Aerospace engineering apprenticeships (Plus how to apply)

Updated 31 August 2023

Aerospace engineering apprenticeships offer students an opportunity to combine working and studying while earning a salary. Students learn the theoretical aspects of aerospace engineering and receive practical hands-on training from experienced professionals during their apprenticeships. If you prefer taking a vocational route to gain your aerospace engineering qualification, it's important to understand how aerospace engineering apprenticeships work. In this article, we discuss how aerospace engineering works, the training, levels of the apprenticeship and how to apply for this apprenticeship.

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How do aerospace engineering apprenticeships work?

Aerospace engineering apprenticeships integrate studies and practical on the job training to help students obtain nationally recognised certifications. This means that when you choose to go for an apprenticeship in aerospace engineering, you can work, learn and earn at the same time. The employer of an aerospace engineering apprentice often determines the schedule and organisation of the apprenticeship programme. They usually divide your time between attending to your studies at the training centre or college and working at the workplace.

At the training centres, you learn the academic aspect of the aerospace engineering field. At the workplace, you learn the practical skills necessary to become an aerospace engineer. The programme allows you to work the majority of the week and attend school once or twice a week or attend school fully for a specific period and later work several weeks or months at the workplace. Companies regard apprentices as employees. Hence you have an entitlement to pay and benefits like other employees.

How much do aerospace engineering apprentices earn?

An apprentice works for at least 30 hours a week and receives an apprentice wage. This wage differs depending on your age and how far you are into your apprenticeship. Depending on a number of factors, you may receive the National Minimum Wage. Below are the hourly wages of an apprentice and their ages:

  • apprentices aged under 19 receive wages of £4.30

  • apprentices aged 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship receive wages of £4.30

  • apprentices aged 19-20 and past the first year of their apprenticeship receive wages equivalent to the National Minimum Wage of £6.56

  • apprentices aged 21-22 and past the first year of their apprenticeship receive wages equivalent to the National Minimum Wage of £8.36

  • apprentices aged 23 and above and past the first year of their apprenticeship receive wages equivalent to the National Minimum Wage of £8.91

Apprenticeship salaries differ from employer to employer as some companies may choose to pay higher than the National Minimum or Living Wage. Where the salary is of paramount importance to you, you may wish to check the salary information before applying to the company. You also have an entitlement to at least 20 days of paid holiday each year and bank holidays.

Read more: How Much Do Aerospace Engineers Make? (With Job Info)

Training for apprenticeships

The responsibility of aerospace engineers is to design and test products for the aeronautical and space industries. This task requires sufficient training and knowledge to execute. The apprenticeship scheme requires your employer to structure the programme to enable you to receive adequate training. This is why 20% of your normal working hours are spent on training, as per your employment letter or apprenticeship agreement. Depending on which level of apprenticeship you're pursuing, the training can last between three to six years and may take place online, at the training centre or college and in the workplace.

Levels of apprenticeship in aerospace engineering

Out of the four different levels of apprenticeships, two apply to aerospace engineering. Below are two levels of apprenticeship for aerospace engineers:

Higher apprenticeship

The higher apprenticeship offers students an opportunity to study at a college or university while working with an approved apprenticeship training provider. At the end of the programme, you earn Level 4 and 5 qualifications which are equivalent to National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), Higher National Diplomas (HND) or foundation degree. With this qualification, you can move forward to earn a postgraduate degree level or Level 7 apprenticeship. The entry requirement is five GCSEs grade 9-4 or A-C, including Maths and English. The average time students complete a higher apprenticeship is between three to five years.

Some of the courses you may offer in your Level 4 and Level 5 higher apprenticeship in aerospace engineering include:

  • aerospace thermofluids

  • aerospace engineering

  • solid mechanics, materials and manufacturing

  • dynamics modelling and simulation

  • aerospace systems design

  • fundamental aero-propulsion

  • structural mechanics

  • engineering research

  • fundamental aerodynamics

  • flight

Read more: Higher Apprenticeships: Everything You Need to Know

Degree apprenticeship

The degree apprenticeship is also known as Level 6 or 7 apprenticeships and is the highest level of apprenticeship for aerospace engineering. It takes between three to six years to complete depending on your choice of course. Students who complete this programme earn a Bachelors or Masters degree in aerospace engineering. The university and the employer usually develop the curriculum of this programme to ensure that the apprentice learns all that's necessary to award them a degree.

The entry requirement for a degree apprenticeship varies from employer to employer. But most employers require their students to have level 3 qualifications like an advanced apprenticeship, A-Levels, BTEC or NVQ. Some of the courses you may study in your Level 6 and Level 7 apprenticeships in aerospace engineering include:

  • aerostructures

  • digital manufacturing in aerospace

  • engineering project

  • further aerodynamics

  • composite engineering

  • further aero-propulsion

  • aerospace group design project

  • professionalism for engineers

  • integrated electromechanical systems

Related: Four Different Types of Apprenticeships (With FAQs)

How to apply for an apprenticeship

Aerospace engineering apprenticeship can be quite competitive, especially when you desire to work with some of the best industries available. Use your application to make yourself stand out from other candidates. Below are five steps to applying for an aerospace engineering apprenticeship:

1. Do your research

Apprenticeship standards and requirements differ from employer to employer. It's good practice to begin your apprenticeship journey by first researching the programme. You can use the employer's website to find out the job roles, apprenticeship standards and what your employer expects from you. Some companies may not display apprenticeship opportunities, so consider reaching out to preferred companies to ask whether there is a vacancy for an apprenticeship. Even when information for an opportunity is available online, it's always worth reaching out to the company via phone calls or emails to gather more information about the apprenticeship programme.

2. Adapt your CV and cover letter

Your CV can make a lasting impression on your potential employers even before they get to meet you during the interview stage. Ensure your CV is professional and reflects your skills, academic experiences, interests and hobbies. Use language that's simple, sentences that are clear and fonts that make your CV reader-friendly. It can be tempting to use the same application for all companies, but try to tailor your cover letter to the particular company you're applying to. Most recruiters are able to generic cover letters or applications, which ends up reducing your chances of getting the apprenticeship.

Related: How To Write an Apprenticeship Cover Letter (With Examples)

3. Include all relevant information

It's essential for your application to contain all information about you, including your contact detail, interests, skills and hobbies. Try to limit this to just the relevant information that's relevant to your aerospace engineering apprenticeship. For instance, if you have a good knowledge of maths and science, include this with details on the specific areas or projects you have worked on in the past. Doing so helps to convince the recruiter that you understand the job description and that you're the most suitable candidate for the position.

4. Be realistic and sell yourself

Many aerospace engineering apprenticeship vacancies require that candidates have certain skills and experiences. Be honest and realistic, and try not to apply for positions that are outside your skill set. But when you do apply, endeavour to sell yourself to your potential employer. Use your application to reveal your strengths and what makes you unique. Mention skills that you possess that are relevant to the position. Explain your interest in the position and what you can contribute to the company using your experiences and skills.

5. Proofread your application

Aerospace engineering apprenticeship vacancies attract numerous applications from individuals. So ensure that your application is comprehensive and well-written. This includes paying attention to details and making sure your sentences are simple, correct and intentional. Check for grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. Try not to miss out on important information about yourself, such as your interests, hobbies or contact details. If possible, request the assistance of a third party when proofreading your application. This helps you to see mistakes you may not have seen before.

Jobs open to aerospace engineering apprentices

With the qualifications and certificates obtained from the two levels of apprenticeship applicable to aerospace engineering, students can work in a variety of aerospace engineering fields. Some of the jobs or roles you can get with your higher apprenticeship (Level 4 and 5) qualification include:

  • propulsion technician

  • aircraft maintenance certifying engineer

  • air traffic controller

  • automation and controls engineering technician

  • electronic systems principal engineer

Some of the jobs in aerospace engineering open to an apprentice with a degree apprenticeship (Level 6) qualification include:

  • aerospace software development engineer

  • aerospace engineer

  • electrical/electronic technical support engineer

  • product design and development engineer

  • control/technical support engineer (degree)

  • systems engineer

  • embedded electronic systems design and development engineer (degree)

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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