How to become an engineer in the UK?

Posted 23 February 2021

Thinking about becoming an engineer? With a variety of benefits and rewards, engineering offers a lifelong career with a range of paths to choose from. You’ll need good grades, problem-solving skills and determination to become an engineer in the UK, as well as the right kind of degree. Find out what else will help you to succeed in your journey to becoming an engineer.

What do engineers do?

What you’ll do as an engineer depends on what type of engineering you want to specialise in. But generally, engineers solve problems using science, math and technology. They improve everything around us, from travel and communication to structures and healthcare. 

Types of engineering

There are four main types of engineering - mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical. At Kingston University London you can study:

  • Mechanical engineering - From society’s largest constructions such as cars, space stations and buildings to the smallest nanotechnology, mechanical engineers build the world as we know it.
  • Civil engineering - From bridges and dams to power plants and water systems, civil engineers plan, design and oversee the construction and maintenance of structures and infrastructures. 

Other types of engineering

Within the four main types of engineering sits a multitude of sub-disciplines, which give you a wide range of career paths to choose from. For example, within mechanical engineering, you could be an aerospace engineer or an aviation engineer, and within civil engineering, you could pursue a career as a building surveyor. 

What type of engineer should you be?

What type of engineering you should choose largely relies on your skills and interests, so you should explore each area in-depth. You may have a strong interest in cars and aircraft, in which case you could lean towards becoming a mechanical engineer to leave your options open, or specialise in aviation or aerospace engineering if that’s the path you want to follow. 

There is no ‘‘best’’ type of engineer, it’s all down to what you’re interested in and what you’d like to do in the future.

What qualifications do you need to become an engineer in the UK?

To become an engineer in the UK, you’ll need to gain certain academic qualifications and some on-the-job training. 

A-levels

To study a degree in engineering, you will need to have good A Level qualifications in subjects such as Maths and a physical science such as Physics or Chemistry. 

Additionally, you could study an International Foundation Year in Science, Engineering and Computing which will prepare you for a variety of engineering degrees at Kingston University, London

Engineering degrees

One of the most common routes to becoming an engineer in the UK is to study an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. You could study one of the main types of engineering such as mechanical engineering or civil and infrastructure engineering, or if you know exactly what career path you want to pursue, you could study a degree such as aviation or aerospace engineering. 

Engineering degrees typically take three years, and by studying in the UK you can graduate with a globally recognised qualification. 

You could also study for a Masters degree in engineering once you complete your undergraduate degree. This will allow you to further specialise in a specific area of engineering and gain unique knowledge and skills. 

Professional qualifications

You don't necessarily need to join a professional body to get your first engineering graduate job. Professional bodies such as the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) provide you with access to networking opportunities and training events, but membership is required if you want to be assessed for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) in the UK. Further professional qualifications can typically be earned while in employment. 

How long does it take to become an engineer in the UK?

An engineering degree usually takes three to four years, depending on the type of degree you study and where you study - BEng degrees at Kingston University London last three years. However, you could study an MEng degree option that dives deeper into specific topics and lasts four years or you can even add a sandwich year (a year working in the industry) which will take the degree duration to five years. Once you graduate you can apply for graduate engineering jobs or a place on an engineering graduate scheme, which typically last around two years and lead to permanent roles. 

How to study engineering abroad in the UK?

If you want to become an engineer in the UK, you can start your journey by studying an engineering degree at a British university. Kingston University London International Study Centre offers international students preparation courses that will give you a supportive introduction to an undergraduate degree in engineering at Kingston University, London. The International Foundation Year in Science, Engineering and Computing will help you prepare for university, helping you transition to student life and helping you achieve the requirements needed to study engineering at Kingston University, London. 

Why study engineering in the UK?

Thousands of international students choose to study engineering in the UK - here are a few reasons why:

  • High-quality education - with world-class facilities and a reputation for academic excellence, you can be assured you’ll receive one of the best educations in the world.
  • Globally recognised degree - your degree will be respected by companies internationally. 
  • Learn in English - studying engineering in the UK means you will have the opportunity to quickly advance your English language skills.
  • Career prospects - engineers of all kinds are in high demand in the UK, creating a range of career opportunities for driven international students. With a post-study work visa, you can start your engineering career straight after university. 

Why study engineering at Kingston University, London?

Once you complete the International Foundation Year in Science, Engineering and Computing, you can advance to an undergraduate engineering degree at Kingston University, London, where you’ll benefit from:

  • Practical learning - hands-on education to help you acquire the right skills and knowledge to succeed.
  • World-class facilities - put theory into practice using industry-standard laboratories and equipment and gain crucial experience.
  • Industry links - the University promotes strong industrial involvement across their engineering degrees.
Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.