Should you be considering an apprenticeship?

Published: 16 Sep 2015

Are you finishing school next year? Or maybe you’ve finished already? It’s time to start thinking about options! If it’s an engineering career that you’re looking for, then you’ve made a great choice. You’ll have a career that offers you variety, challenge, responsibility and often the chance to be creative. It can also give you the opportunity to travel the world and be a part of projects that make a real difference. Engineers are vital to the UK economy, yet there’s a shortage of qualified employees and as a result, you’ll be a well-paid, highly sought after professional.

Female apprentice

However, as you may be aware, there are many routes into engineering to consider. You can go into university and study an engineering degree subject, which has its benefits. However, you can also take another route by becoming an apprentice.

This has a number of advantages over doing a degree at university. A major incentive is the lack of tuition fees and student loans. While there are relatively generous repayment terms, UK students now face an average debt of £35-£40,000 upon graduating, with tuition fees standing at £9,000 a year in most English and Welsh universities. It’s also worth remembering that you’ll need A-levels before going to university, and it’ll be five years before you really start earning. You can become an apprentice at 16 with your GCSE’s, and you’ll get paid to learn.

As an apprentice, you’re entitled to at least £2.73 an hour at 16-18, however many companies are willing to pay much more. This will increase to the national minimum wage once you’re 19. The average weekly pay for an apprentice is around £170, and you also get paid holidays. Meanwhile, you’ll be accumulating hands-on work experience, being trained by experienced engineers, whilst attaining qualifications which can lead to high level NVQ’s or a foundation degree. Becoming an apprentice doesn’t mean you’ll never get an undergraduate degree either. Many employers can sponsor you to do one later as part of your development, and you can take higher apprenticeship courses.

By 21, when most university students graduate, you’ll have finished your apprenticeship, which take 2-4 years, you’ll be 5 years ahead of graduates in terms of work experience and career development,  and you’ll be debt-free and earning a decent wage. Research shows that apprentices earn, on average, over £100,000 more throughout their lifetime than other employees. You’ll also have many transferable skills if you decide to take your career in a new direction and work in a different sector!

As you can see, there’s a lot of good reasons to consider doing an apprenticeship for a route into a rewarding career. While others are still in a classroom, you could be assembling circuit-boards, repairing engines, putting together fighter-jets or building a monument to stand the test of time. The possibilities are endless. There’s never been a better time to get into engineering! To see some of the jobs you can apply to as a qualified engineer, visit us at For more information about apprenticeships, go to

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