Engineering A Levels vs Btec

RajaStyle
RajaStyle Posts: 353
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edited 14 October 2023 at 5:05PM in Employment, jobseeking & training
Hi

Not sure if this is the right place but... 


I want to do engineering because maths and physics are my strong points but not sure which type of engineering I would enjoy most at the moment.

Question is what would be best way forward 3 A levels or a btec in engineering and what would be best option next a good uni for degree or do an apprenticeship.

Also if Btec engineering does it include enough maths to help with your career or do you need to do more maths later? 

Thoughts and tips appreciated 
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  • Marcon
    Marcon Posts: 10,016
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    RajaStyle said:


    Question is what would be best way forward 3 A levels or a btec in engineering and what would be best option next a good uni for degree or do an apprenticeship.


    You don't say how old you are. Being realistic, what options are open to you on a practical level? Where would you actually take your A levels or btec - as a full time school pupil, or at a local college geared to more mature students as well as teenagers? Unless there are good courses within easy access of where you're living, that might actually make the decision for you.

    Same thing applies to the choice between uni/apprenticeship. Have you researched both of these properly and fully, especially how you'd cope with the financial considerations?
    Googling on your question might have been both quicker and easier, if you're only after simple facts rather than opinions!  
  • RajaStyle
    RajaStyle Posts: 353
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    edited 14 October 2023 at 5:21PM
    Fyi - I helped my daughter ask this question who is 16 years old, some people have told her a levels at 6th sixth form and some btec at college, some have said uni after some apprenticeship.  Engineering is a new area for us, so thought it might help asking the helpful people on here
  • Kat78MFW
    Kat78MFW Posts: 258
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    My daughter is a year older and wants to be an engineer. She is undecided between mechanical and electrical and robotic engineering so has applied for university courses with a common first year or general engineering. All the universities we have been to require 3 Alevels including Maths and Physics. 

    It's worth finding out about taster days at local unis - my daughter has been on a couple of these and found them helpful. Good luck to your daughter - it's brilliant to see more girls going into engineering now.
    MFW since March 2019Mortgage-free 30th June 2023 My diary https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/5974849/six-years-and-counting#latest
  • My son did A levels Maths/Physics and then went on to do an apprenticeship.

    At the end of that, the company funded a degree which he passed. He did mention that it was hard as it was essentially a full time degree whilst holding down a full time job. 

    For him it was def a win-win scenario.

    He gained the all important time served experience,got a degree and has zero student debt.

    Its not for everyone though as it is incredibly hard work and 100% relies on the support of a good company 
  • RajaStyle
    RajaStyle Posts: 353
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    edited 15 October 2023 at 12:12PM
    DavidT67 said:
    A University Bachelors course in engineering will want a good A level in Maths,  a Foundation degree for the majority of universities will still want good A level maths.
    Even if you obtain a BTec extended National Diploma in Engineering with three Distinctions, this doesn't sidestep the A level Maths requirement for the majority of university courses. 
    This applies to Degree apprenticeships and Integrated degrees also.
    So if they want the university route, A levels are the entry point, unless they enter as a mature student having completed an 'Access to HE Diploma in Engineering'  which is equivalent to three science A levels.
    A Further education Btec may help with obtaining a non degree apprenticeship or junior position, but it will severely limit their options compared to completing a higher education degree.
    So if she wanted to do a degree apprenticeship rather than a normal uni degree, Maths A level should still be a requirement?

    We just thought btec engineering would give her a feel early on as to which type of engineering she would like to pursue so would be a good way forward to help her decide her career path.

    Would it be more beneficial doing btec engineering with a maths A level which would be like doing 4 A levels? Might be a bit heavy though

    If she did 3 A levels instead would a uni degree later give her a feel for all types of engineering to help her decide as they seem specialist in the area so you should know you want to do. 

    Thoughts appreciated
  • I agree with all that DavidT67 has said on this thread.

    Going for the 3 A levels is the prime aim in the first instance. After 12/18 months into A Level Course both the
    O/P's daughter and her 3 teachers will have a better idea of what grades might be expected ( and the grades will be very important). Also, the Sixth Form is a wonderful education in itself as well as giving time for a pupil to think over what they want to do in the future rather than ( in this case) fix them to engineering too soon-----pre-16 year olds can often see a different career pathway during the 2 years of 6th Form. Good luck for the future to the young lady in question. 
  • DavidT67
    DavidT67 Posts: 379
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    edited 16 October 2023 at 8:42AM
    RajaStyle said:
    So if she wanted to do a degree apprenticeship rather than a normal uni degree, Maths A level should still be a requirement?

    We just thought btec engineering would give her a feel early on as to which type of engineering she would like to pursue so would be a good way forward to help her decide her career path.

    Would it be more beneficial doing btec engineering with a maths A level which would be like doing 4 A levels? Might be a bit heavy though

    If she did 3 A levels instead would a uni degree later give her a feel for all types of engineering to help her decide as they seem specialist in the area so you should know you want to do. 

    Thoughts appreciated
    Degree Apprenticeship is effectively working and studying concurrently, so potentially even tougher than just studying.  And yes the strong maths grade is still required for 90% of universities. 
    University engineering course have a more open theoretical and academic focus, 'build me a drone' whereas FE courses focus more on the practical 'Here's an instruction set for a drone, put it together'. 
    If pursuing the BTec route with an eye on University choose the course carefully, you need an Extended National Diploma with gives three Pass/Merit/Distinction grades, not just two.  And they'll need the three distinctions for the widest choice of Uni, plus there's still that pesky strong A level maths grade requirement. It's certainly doable to take A maths alongside a BTec.
    A lot of universities will have a general engineering first year, or modular course structure, with the opportunity to change focus for years two, three and four; this is where the open days and department tours are valuable.
    NB I'm a BEng in Aero, brother's a MEng, CEng and FIMEng in Mech, son's are both studying Eng, one BEng Elec, the other BTec Mech and looking to start a BEng Mech via a Foundation year.

  • Just one point for David please----you haven't addressed my point about a 6th Form leading to A Levels after 2 years and the opportunity that gives a pupil to look further afield and have a chance to move away from Engineering altogether. I see your family obviously have a built-in vocation for the engineering way of life. But others, like the pre-16 year old in question may not be surrounded by family who are engineers and may not have decided to devote her life at this early stage to engineering----in which case she may wish to think of keeping options open whilst in the 6th form for 2 years to A levels. She may decide to become a Maths or Physics teacher. At that age my career options changed quite a lot as I found out more about the A Level subjects I started taking.
  • DavidT67
    DavidT67 Posts: 379
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    Yes, taking three or four A levels will give you more academic options, than a single FE course in a particular vocational subject area.  Assuming they are comfortable with the workload, as A levels are more demanding than GCSEs / O levels, and in comparison a FE BTec course will be less hours and a lighter workload.

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