Electronic engineering is an exciting and fast-paced career. Among other things, you may work in telecommunications, manufacturing, aerospace, or robots.
As an electronics engineer apprentice, you will help design, develop, and test components, devices, systems, and equipment that use electricity as a power source. These components include capacitors, diodes, resistors, and transistors.
You might be involved at any project stage, from the first brief for a concept through the design and development stage, prototype testing, and final manufacturing and deployment of a new product or system.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- assess new developments or innovations
- prepare technical plans using computer-aided engineering and design software
- estimate manufacturing and labour costs, and project timescales
- co-ordinate the work of technicians and craftspeople
- test prototypes and analyse data
- make sure projects meet safety regulations
- plan and oversee inspection and maintenance.
- Starting salaries for apprentice electronics engineers are around £21,000 to £22,000.
- With experience and working at an incorporated engineer level, you could earn £28,000 to £40,000.
- As a senior engineer you can expect a salary of between £40,000 and £65,000, with chartered engineers earning a salary at the top end of this scale.
Hours of work can vary, but a 42 to 44 hour week is typical. The commercial pressures associated with electronic design mean that extra hours during evenings and weekends may be required at busy times to meet deadlines.
You could work in a workshop, in a laboratory, in a factory or in an office.
Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice electronics engineer include:
- Level 6 Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 36 months to complete.
On an electronics engineer apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- maths knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- analytical thinking skills
- design skills and knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently.
You could find employment in a range of industries, including:
- the electrical and electronics industry
- other engineering industries
- non-electrical organisations
- utility companies
- research establishments
- the public sector, including the Civil Service, local authorities, hospitals and educational institutions
- government departments like the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Your organisation often provides in-service training, and short courses for specialised needs may be offered. However, it is important to study what your employer offers since you may need to seek out opportunities on your own.
Many employers want their staff to become incorporated (IEng) or chartered (CEng) engineers. The Engineering Council awards these internationally recognised certificates, and attaining them boosts your work opportunities and earning potential.
You must be a member of a professional organisation, such as the IET, and demonstrate a certain level of expertise and professional participation. Engineering Council – Professional Registration has further information.
You will be expected to seek ongoing professional growth throughout your career (CPD). If you are an IET member, you must commit to maintaining your skills and knowledge by completing at least 30 hours of CPD each year.
CPD activities include training courses, work experience, academic research, volunteering, attending events, and self-study. You may get help from the IET with activity monitoring and reporting.
Most engineering careers lead to senior management positions controlling more personnel and/or larger projects and budgets. Therefore, getting professional status as an incorporated (IEng) or chartered (CEng) engineer is becoming more important to develop in the field.
If you have CEng status, you can apply for EUR ING status with the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI). This grants you formal professional recognition in other European countries, enabling you to work there. Engineering Council – European Engineer registration has further information.
As a professionally qualified engineer, you might move to senior management or work in other areas of the organisation, including marketing, recruitment, sales, and training.