Maths exam paper

In whatever branch of engineering you want to work, having A-levels in mathematics and science (preferably physics) are often essential requirements. The subject requires numerate people with excellent technical minds, who are problem solvers and quick thinkers. Here we explain more of the specific A-level requirements for different types of engineering.  

What are the essential A-levels for engineering?

If you want to study engineering at university or take an engineering apprenticeship, you are going to need to have some A-levels. Maths and a Science subject are almost certainly asked for as required subjects, and the pass grades are high – normally at least C grades, but often B, A and A*, depending on the course and the university. Apprenticeship entry requirements might not always be so high as universities, as employers may look at other factors such as work experience.  

More specific A-levels for different types of engineering

Civil engineering A-levels 

The main routes to becoming a Civil Engineer are through a four-year university course or a three-year apprenticeship. Both will require you to have A-levels. Universities will ask for at least three grade C passes, with two of the subjects being Maths and a Science. Sometimes the university will specify Physics as the science subject, but other institutions may be happy with Chemistry, Biology or another science discipline. Some universities will have higher grade requirements. Oxford or Cambridge, for example, often ask for three grade As.  

Setting-out engineer 

A setting-out engineer (also known as a site engineer) marks sites above and below ground using precision surveying equipment, ensuring that construction work takes place in the right positions. It is a technical career and requires you to have A-levels in at least Mathematics and Physics. Employers usually ask for applicants to have a degree in an engineering subject or an HNC/HND.  

What A levels do you need to become a structural engineer? 

Again, if you want to go into structural engineering you will need to have at least two A-levels, in Maths and a Science subject, to start a Structural Engineering degree course. In Scotland, universities will ask for four Highers, including Maths. Heriot-Watt University’s BEng in Structural Engineering requires applicants to have two A grades and two B grades in their Highers.  

Mechanical engineering A-level requirements 

Degree courses in mechanical engineering in England will ask for three A-Level passes, with two of the passes being A or A* in Maths/Further Maths and Physics. Some universities will look favourably at applicants with an A grade in Chemistry. Computer Science is another popular subject. In Scotland, four Highers are needed, with some universities asking for AABB as the minimum pass grades.  

Two professional people at a whiteboard
Engineers need to be problem solvers with technical minds

What A-levels do you need to become a geotechnical engineer? 

Geotechnical engineers analyse soil, rock, groundwater and other earth materials to determine if they can be used in construction projects. The subject requires a good technical mind, so Maths is an essential A-Level to have. A science subject (preferably Physics), and Design or Art may also be useful, as sketching geological structures could form part of your work. 

A-levels to study to get a career in chemical engineering 

Chemical engineering is another demanding subject, and competition for places on chemical engineering degree courses is high. In England, students will normally need to have passes at grade B in Maths, Chemistry and Physics. Some universities will ask for three grade A or A* passes. In Scotland, similar Highers subjects will be required, and the grades can range from four Bs to four As and one B.  

What A-levels do you need to be an electrical engineer? 

Electrical engineering also requires applicants for degrees and apprenticeships to have A-level passes in Maths and either Physics or Chemistry. A third subject could be Computing, Computer Science or even Electronics, if your school offers this A-level.  

What A-levels do you need for environmental engineering? 

Environmental engineers optimise the use of natural resources, and seek to protect the environment by reducing waste and pollution, especially from construction projects. Again the subjects you will need to study at A-level are Maths and Sciences. Universities differ in what their entry requirements are, but applicants for degree courses in environmental engineering will be expected to have at least 96 UCAS points (three grade Cs) as the minimum. In Scotland, you might need three Highers at grade A and one at grade B for Civil & Environmental engineering courses.  

Options for when you’ve completed your A-levels

So it should be fairly clear that if you’re thinking of going into engineering as a career, taking A-levels in Maths and Science subjects are a very good starting point. What are the next steps after you’ve got those all-important A-level grades?   

Engineering apprenticeships 

If you want to go straight into work after your A-levels, then an engineering apprenticeship would be an ideal choice. You will be learning from other engineers from day one, working on real engineering jobs and getting hands-on experience.  

Studying engineering at university 

An engineering degree is one of the most highly regarded qualifications you can achieve. Some employers will also offer degree apprenticeships in engineering, which pay you a salary while you combine working with studying for a degree at university. The degree apprenticeship course will take longer but you won’t have to pay tuition fees.  

Graduate engineering opportunities 

Once you have an engineering degree, many opportunities will be available to you, in a wide range of branches of engineering – mechanical, civil, electrical, nuclear or design engineering, for example.  

Search for an engineering role on Talentview

Engineers are always in high demand, and with the right A-levels you will be in a great position to apply for university courses or apprenticeships. One of the best places to search for engineering apprenticeships is on Talentview