Preparing for a career in engineering
Making decisions about your future can be daunting, and for many young people a career seems far off. Yet if you think you might be interested in training to be an engineer when you grow up, it is worth making the right choices now and taking steps to make your future career path easier. Statistics show, for example, that fewer girls are choosing to take A-level Physics, which could be contributing to the imbalance of female and male engineers in the industry. Knowing which subjects to choose to study, or what skills you might need to work on, can stand you in good stead for the future.
Preparing for further education or an apprenticeship
Whether you choose to study engineering in a formal environment such as at college or university, or learn on the job in an apprenticeship, studying certain topics at school and, later, at college, can make your journey easier. Taking challenging academic subjects enables you to learn technical skills as well as how to process and synthesise information. The best subjects to choose are:
– Maths: including geometry, probability, statistics and algebra
– Science: Physics, Biology and Chemistry
– English and languages: to learn communication skills
Some degree and college courses specify which courses their entrants must have studied to be admitted. For example, applicants to Imperial College’s BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering are required to have A-levels in Mathematics and Physics, and the university also recommends studying Biology, Chemistry, Economics and a number of other traditional subjects.
Network Rail’s Engineering Apprenticeship requires applicants to have at least four A*-C GCSEs including Maths and English and an Engineering or Science subject. MI5’s Engineering Apprenticeship requires two A-levels in either Science, Engineering or Maths (STEM) subjects.
Look for opportunities to test out the job
School holidays are a great time to get relevant work experience. There are a number of initiatives and summer schools available to students interested in careers in engineering, in locations across the UK. Many universities and training providers offer open days to learn more about the subjects and programmes they run. School holidays are traditionally a time to relax, and students shouldn’t overload themselves. However, taking a week or a few days now to learn more about what might be in store in the future is time well invested.
Several organisations focus particularly on giving wannabe female engineers an opportunity to try out the industry or learn more about what a career as an engineer entails. Girls considering this as a career path can contact People Like Me and the WISE campaign, for example, among others.
Learn about your passions
Be curious about the world around you and how it works. There is a huge variety of possible careers in the engineering industry – almost everything you use or see in your day to day life has an engineering component. Curious about how your computer or household appliances work? Look into the physical hardware and software systems that make them tick.
When asked what advice they would give to young people thinking about a career in engineering, many female engineers said that the advice they would give is to follow your passion and what you are interested in.
A little time spent planning for the future can put you in a great position weeks and months down the line when it comes to taking next steps in your chosen field. It’s exciting to think about how your life may evolve in future, and testing out careers or learning more about the world around you can be an enjoyable first step towards an exciting future.