Navigating the apprenticeship pathway: a guide for engineering students

Choosing an apprenticeship can be a pivotal step in an engineering student’s career, offering hands-on experience, valuable insights into industry practices, and a direct pathway to employment.

However, with numerous options available across sectors such as electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering, making an informed decision requires careful consideration of various factors.

This guide from Student Circuit aims to assist engineering students in the UK and beyond in selecting an apprenticeship that aligns with their career aspirations and educational background.

Understand your career goals

Before embarking on an apprenticeship, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your long-term career objectives. Consider what aspects of engineering excite you the most and the type of projects you envision yourself working on. Whether your interest lies in pioneering renewable energy solutions, developing cutting-edge electronic devices, or designing sustainable infrastructure, your career goals should guide your choice of apprenticeship.

Research the field

Industry sector: engineering encompasses a broad range of sectors, each with its unique challenges and opportunities. Research the sectors that align with your interests and career goals. For instance, if you are passionate about combating climate change, an apprenticeship in renewable energy engineering might be the most suitable.

Company reputation and values: investigate the companies offering apprenticeships. Look for organisations with a strong commitment to training and development, as well as a corporate culture that resonates with your values.

Apprenticeship level: apprenticeships in engineering can range from Level 2 (equivalent to GCSEs) to Level 7 (equivalent to a master’s degree). Select a level that matches your current qualifications and where you see your education taking you in the future.

Consider the practicalities

Location: the location of the apprenticeship can significantly affect your daily life and finances. Consider whether you are willing to relocate or if you prefer to find a position closer to home.

Duration and structure: apprenticeships vary in length, from one year to five years, depending on the level and complexity of the programme. Understand the structure of the apprenticeship, including the balance between on-the-job training and classroom learning.

Financial aspects: while apprentices earn a salary, the amount can vary widely between sectors and companies. Research the typical wages for your chosen field and level and consider how this will support your living expenses and long-term financial goals.

Application process

Preparation is key: tailor your application to highlight the skills and experiences that make you a suitable candidate for the apprenticeship. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the field and your commitment to learning and professional development.

Assessment and interviews: many apprenticeship programmes involve assessments and interviews as part of the selection process. Prepare thoroughly by researching the company and practising your interview skills. Be ready to discuss your understanding of the engineering sector, your career goals, and how the apprenticeship will help you achieve them.

Recommended programmes

Here are some details of leading companies who are offering apprenticeship programmes:


Siemens offers a variety of apprenticeship programmes across several engineering disciplines, including electrical, mechanical, and digital technologies. Its Advanced Apprenticeship in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, for instance, provides apprentices with the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects in automation, energy management, and smart infrastructure. Siemens is known for its commitment to professional development, offering apprentices a chance to gain hands-on experience while working towards nationally recognised qualifications.


Dyson, a company renowned for its innovative consumer electronics, runs an Engineering Apprenticeship Programme that allows participants to work alongside experienced engineers on projects ranging from robotics to connected products. This four-year programme combines on-the-job training with part-time study at the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, leading to a Bachelor of Engineering degree. Dyson apprentices are integral to the teams and work on real projects, contributing to the development of new technologies and products.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems, a leading defence, security, and aerospace company, offers apprenticeships in electronic engineering that cater to those interested in contributing to national security and defence projects. Its Electronic Systems division provides apprentices with the chance to work on sophisticated technology, such as avionics, surveillance systems, and electronic warfare. The apprenticeship programmes at BAE Systems are designed to equip individuals with a deep understanding of electronic engineering principles, practical skills, and the experience needed to excel in their careers.


Rolls-Royce, while primarily known for its aerospace and defence sectors, also offers apprenticeships in electrical and electronic engineering, applicable to its marine and power systems divisions. The programmes provide an immersive learning experience, allowing apprentices to contribute to projects that power some of the world’s most important aircraft, ships, and energy infrastructure. Rolls-Royce is committed to developing the next generation of engineers and offers apprenticeships that lead to recognised qualifications and a pathway to professional engineering status.


ARM, a semiconductor and software design company, offers apprenticeships that give insights into the world of microprocessor design and software development. The apprentices work on projects that have a real impact on the digital world, from smartphones to autonomous vehicles. ARM’s apprenticeship programme is an excellent opportunity for those interested in the cutting-edge of electronics and computing, offering a blend of technical training and practical experience.


Choosing the right apprenticeship is a significant decision that can shape your career in engineering. By thoroughly researching your options, considering the practicalities, and seeking guidance, you can select an apprenticeship that not only aligns with your career goals but also provides a solid foundation for professional growth. Remember, an apprenticeship is not just a job; it is an investment in your future, offering the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to succeed in the dynamic field of engineering.