What GCSEs do you need to be an engineer?
The established routes to becoming an engineer are to take an apprenticeship or study for an HNC, HND or university degree. You will require A Levels for university and advanced apprenticeships, but for an intermediate engineering apprenticeship employers will look for GCSEs in English, maths and a science subject.
You should have achieved your GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C).
It really depends on which type of engineer!
There is not one type of engineer, as you may know. Some employers or universities will look for GCSEs in certain relevant subjects, but maths, English and science are the essential ones. If you are applying for a university course in an engineering subject, A Levels will be more important than GCSEs.
Different types of engineers
Civil engineers plan, design and manage large construction projects. These projects could include bridges, buildings, transport links and other major structures. Civil engineers use computer modelling software and data from surveys, tests and maps, and advise contractors on environmental risks.
Electrical engineers design, develop and maintain electrical systems for buildings, transport systems and power distribution networks. Electrical engineers work in and across many industries, such as construction, transport, energy (including renewables), building services and manufacturing.
Materials engineers source, test and assess the materials used in construction. Materials engineers ensure that building foundations and materials are suitable, offering guidance on the best materials to use for a project. This is based on their individual properties, project costs and timeframes.
Chemical engineers develop and convert raw materials into a range of useful products. A chemical engineer changes the chemical, biochemical and physical state of a substance to turn it into something else, such as making plastic from oil.
Which subjects will help you become an engineer?
It depends on what type of engineer you want to be. Most engineering employers will look for A Levels in maths and physics, though. They help budding engineers build their problem-solving skills and gain an understanding of the practical aspects of engineering. So, if you are interested in a career in engineering, taking physics at GCSE is recommended.
Chemical engineering courses or apprenticeships will usually require a GCSE and A Level in chemistry.
If you are lucky enough to attend a school that offers engineering as a GCSE (and there are not many that do), make sure you take that as one of your subjects! This will really impress an employer and show that you already have a basic knowledge and interest in engineering. Schools that offer GCSE engineering often have the flexibility to create their own curriculum. Students will probably learn elements of science, maths, electronics and product design as part of their studies.
Science GCSEs are desirable
There is no doubt about it, GCSEs in science are more or less essential if you want to get into engineering. So, whether it is physics, chemistry, biology or combined science, science GCSEs help students develop key skills and knowledge that can be drawn upon in different engineering careers.
Find out more about engineering careers in construction
Engineering is a hugely important part of the construction industry. Civil engineers, materials engineers and electrical engineers all play major roles in construction projects, and it is a hugely rewarding career. It is well served by apprenticeships, too.
- Find out about engineering jobs with Go Construct
Search Talentview for engineering opportunities
Talentview is a great website to look for engineering jobs and apprenticeship vacancies. You can filter your searches by job role, location and specific apprentice levels.