With so many different career paths to go down and different ways to get there, it can be confusing to know which one to choose. Apprenticeships are a great way to get your foot in the door to an industry that you may not have learnt about before, but are wanting to explore further.
Engineering apprenticeships in particular provide you with a set of varied skills, which are applicable to many job roles. This enables you to gain valuable hands-on experience and the opportunity to earn while you learn.
And, with mechanical engineering considered as the foundation of the industry, there are plenty of advantages to be had from doing an apprenticeship in this field.
1. It combines practical with classroom teaching
Learning in a classroom can be incredibly useful, but getting out there and giving yourself the opportunity to learn first-hand gives you a great insight into what the job really entails. It’s almost like a preview of the job before you commit to the industry later.
The combination of practical work and classroom teaching lends variety to the learning process and helps you to develop on your understanding, as you see the things you’ve learnt being put into practice.
Learning these skills from an expert rather than a book also makes the process that bit more relatable and enjoyable!
2. There are always jobs in the industry
With mechanical engineering being a very technical and skilful job, there’s consistent demand within the field. This grants you the freedom and opportunities to travel and explore the world, while doing something you love. That’s not something that can be said for all job roles.
Most importantly, because of this demand, there is the scope for great salary packets too, with the average income for a relatively experienced UK mechanical engineer being around £30,000 per annum, according to PayScale.
With the work these job roles require being quite broad, there’s a wide choice of markets you can expand into — from aerospace to robotics — giving you a lot of prospects for the future.
3. You get to be behind the scenes of big developments
Knowing what the plans are for developments before anybody else is a huge bonus for these apprenticeships. The opportunity to be part of a planning process that can be massively influential will enable you a sense of pride on completion.
This can also make for some impressive conversation in future job interviews or industry meetings, where you can discuss your involvement with certain completed — and hopefully, successful! — projects.
Additionally, being put on a variety of projects, big or small, exposes you to all parts of the profession, making for extremely valuable experience. With so many different projects and things to learn, no day in the job is the same.
4. You’ll get qualifications
Many people choose to take on an apprenticeship because of their lack of qualification in the field, or because college or university isn’t for them. This means that requirements to get on a mechanical apprenticeship are relatively minimal: usually 4–5 GCSEs at grades A*–C with compulsory Maths and English.
On the apprenticeship, you’ll be trained to gain a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 3 and a BTEC level 3 in mechanical engineering. Many apprentices will go on to study for an HNC qualification too — that you may even get funded for by your contracted employer — providing you with the opportunity to develop your skillset and prospects even more while you’re employed.
5. You can establish useful contacts for the future
Spending your working days around trained professionals who are already in a position you want to reach can be a real morale-booster in motivating you to where you want to be.
These people are great to keep in contact with, as they can give you first-hand career advice, invite you to networking events and put you in contact with some of their own industry links to help you secure the position of your dreams.
Apart from these contacts being just that, you can make friends for life with your colleagues, particularly with other apprentices going through the same process as you. And, if you perform well enough, the company you’re an apprentice for may hire you at the end of it!
Ready to do a mechanical engineering apprenticeship?
Being an apprentice is a great opportunity to experience a career in an industry you’ve either never been exposed to or want to learn more about. The benefits are incredibly rewarding. And, with the right training, enthusiasm and passion for the field, you can build towards a very bright future!
About the author: Adam Bytheway is a mechanical technician at Chemoxy, an independent chemical contract manufacturer. Starting as an apprentice with the company in 2014, he was offered a full-time job there in 2016. Here, he discusses the value of having an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering under your belt.