Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Industry Qualifications HND Degree MEng Qualifications Explained 2: HNC, HND, Foundation Degree, BSc, BEng, PgCert, PgDip and MEng Student Placements Industrial Placements Career Management for Engineers
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HNCs and HNDs are vocational qualifications, based on the practical skills required to undertake a particular job. As such, they are highly regarded by industrial employers. HNCs typically can be completed in 1 year and HNDs over 2 years, if studied fulltime. Part time and distance learning options are also available where the duration is longer.
The content of the qualification is detailed and often practical in nature. Subjects that can be undertaken vary widely and they are available from a extensive number of colleges and universities.
To successfully obtain the qualification, you must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding through practical work, projects, assignments and examinations. It is possible to convert HNCs and HNDs to Degrees with additional study. To find out more, contact local colleges, universities or see the UCAS contact details provided further on in this section.
Foundation Degrees, like other degrees are university level qualifications. They are vocational, yet combine academic study to nationally recognised standards. Foundation Degrees are tailored to a specific subject area. Many are available in numerous fields of engineering and technology. Typically they will involve time spent in the workplace developing the practical technical skills that matter to employers.
Foundation Degrees have been developed by employers from a particular industry sector, together with universities and colleges. Although they are a qualification in their own right, it is possible to undertake further study and work towards a full honours degree. They normally run for 2 years and can be studied flexibly. UCAS provide further details, as do local colleges and universities.
Undergraduate Degree - BEng(Honours) and BSc(Honours)
(BEng - Bachelor of Engineering and BSc – Bachelor of Science)
These are academic qualifications typically lasting 3 or 4 years. They are the benchmark of higher education and are often, but not always, undertaken at university. Technical subjects are studied in depth, to ensure a strong theoretical grounding. Many middle or senior positions (analytical engineering, as opposed to technician-based roles) within larger technical organisations will insist on a degree as the entry benchmark. When recruiting, businesses often request a degree in a related engineering discipline.
Sandwich degrees are also popular with employers, as graduates can demonstrate the application of their skills in the workplace. These are often 4 year courses where the third year is spent working full-time in a related job. ‘Thick’ and ‘thin’ sandwich degrees are available where the time spent working in industry may vary. The experience is invaluable and often puts the graduate at a distinct advantage. More below...
Undergraduate degrees entitle you to use the letters BSc, BEng or BA after your name. It’s worth noting the letters – known as post-nominals - should only be used in a professional context. As the number of employees with degrees has gone up, higher-end employers are increasingly looking at the final grade (1st, 2:1 or 2:2), the degree content/technical modules, final year projects, as well as where the qualification was studied.
A vast array of degrees in technical and engineering subjects are available. Whilst formal full time study remains the most popular form of learning, there are a number of more flexible options, such as part time study, distance and online learning. See UCAS, the Open University, as well as local universities and colleges for further details.
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
The Open University
Degree Industrial Placements / Engineering Internships: Advice for Students and Small Businesses
Ideas to narrow the gap between engineering degrees and the needs of industry. Help combat the skills shortage for SMEs with quality graduates...
Students who have undertaken engineering degrees with industrial placements – or engineering internships - are what employers want. They demonstrate graduates possess work experience to complement their theoretical knowledge. The hands on practical know-how demonstrates young engineers can be productive and contribute from day one. Find out more including...
Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas – PgCert and PgDip
These academic programmes are studied at the postgraduate, i.e. Masters level, yet run for a shorter duration than formal Masters Degrees. Postgraduate Certificates are generally shorter than Diplomas. They are offered in a broad range of typically specialist subjects. Their shorter duration requires less long term commitment, making them a flexible development option.
It is often possible to extend a PgCert, to a PgDip and onto a full Master’s Degree. Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas are available in a variety of technical and engineering disciplines from various colleges and universities.
Integrated Master’s Degree – MEng
The Integrated Master’s Degree is an academic qualification normally lasting 4 years, where 3 years are taught at undergraduate level, whilst the 4th is studied to postgraduate standards. Sandwich Integrated Masters Degrees are also available, lasting 5 years. Integrated Masters qualifications are defined as undergraduate courses, albeit the highest engineering award attainable at this level.
As such, they are the normal minimum academic qualification for those pursuing Chartered Engineer status with the Engineering Council UK (although there are alternative routes). MEng programmes are usually found in engineering or science disciplines. Students can and sometimes do opt for MEng programmes rather than other undergraduate degrees. Although not as widely available as undergraduate degrees, Integrated MEng degrees are available from a broad range of universities and colleges.
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Have you had an inspirational coach, mentor or manager? Knowing what you know now, what’s the single most effective piece of advice you’d give to a young engineer coming through now?