Get ready to make the leap into engineering
By now you should be across the wide variety of roles in this profession. So it's time to sharpen the focus on your goal and how you'll get there.
Being prepared to study at university and making the right choices are two important final steps in reaching your career goals. From the hints and tips below, create a To Do list, add these tasks into your Career Action Plan, implement your plan and then you'll be ready to make the leap.
Preparing to study at university
Dealing with your special requirements
Study pathways are not always smooth. There may be problems or barriers which you will have to overcome. There are many people you can talk to about any issues you have while studying (including counsellors, academics and administration staff).
Universities are well equipped for dealing with the special requirements of students. You can rest assured that whatever the nature of your personal disability or disorder, the university you choose will be able to support you through an existing program or even tailor a new one to suit you!
Applying to university
Pre-requisites for an engineering course are usually having completed English and Maths Methods in VCE with a study score in the mid 20’s range. Having completed Specialist Maths will likely put you at a slight advantage over some of your classmates in first year but it is not required, given everyone will quickly be brought up to speed. Other VCE subjects that may help you ease into your first year of engineering at university are Physics, IT (Software Development) and any technical subjects that relate to your engineering area of interest (e.g. Electronics, Mechanical, etc.).
Don’t be afraid to explore interests outside of the science and technology areas during VCE. It’s perhaps not obvious but the most successful engineers have diverse talents and have interests and skills across a range of disciplines. Business Management, Legal Studies and Accounting are all subjects that will give you insights into worlds that are more closely linked to engineering than you may have first thought.
Direct entry into engineering from VCE isn’t the only way to get into an engineering course. If for whatever reason you’re unable to meet the pre-requisites during year 12 then don’t panic! There are multiple pathways into an engineering course for people who really want to do it. The What if...? section below outlines a few of the more common problems faced by people wanting to pursue a career in engineering, and suggestions to overcome these hurdles.
Making the right choices
It's time to do some serious research to narrow down the university courses and pathways that best suit your needs and preferences. Our LEAP Partner universities websites all have a special LEAP landing page with shortcuts to their courses, entry pathways, scholarships & financial assistance, student support services and more...
You may not be certain of your exact career goal yet but don't worry, universities and courses usually offer flexibility to change direction. It’s also important to remember that any decision you make about your course and career is not final. While it is worth carefully considering your choices and trying to make the best decision for your pathway, you can make changes in the future if you realise that there's a better option for you.
Things to consider when choosing a course
- What does the course cover? Engineering disciplines are highly diverse and you may want to focus in on a certain field of that discipline in your final years of the course.
- What core and elective subjects are available?
- What specialisations are taught in later years at each university? Not all courses offer all specialisations in years 2 and 3, so if you want to study in a particular area, make sure the choice is available in the course you choose.
- If you've already decided on a specific area of engineering, if it will get you the right qualifications or professional accreditation in that area.
- If you have decided on a specialised career, check the course outcomes to see if the course you are choosing will get you the accreditations required?
- If your preferred career requires more than one specialisation, which course combines these or lets you study more than one specialisation as a second major?
- Does the university have graduate work placement schemes or student industry experience opportunities? This could really help in securing employment later and even obtaining your compulsory work experience.
- Are most of the people completing the course finding employment?
- What flexibility is available to transfer from one course or discipline to another, in case you find you're not enjoying your first choice?
Can you combine an engineering degree with another degree, such as architecture, design, commerce, law or science?
A double degree:
- will broaden your expertise, add to your engineering knowledge, set you apart from other graduates and give you more flexible employment options;
- is usually completed in a shorter time and at less total cost than studying for two consecutive single degrees.
- If travel or living away from home are a problem, what distance study options are available, for example online learning.
- University is more than just the study – universities are great social environments where you can make lifelong friends, so when looking at universities also consider the added extras like societies and clubs.
- You can also expand your horizons by studying abroad for a semester in many university courses. If that appeals, check what is possible in the courses you are considering.
Making the most of Open Day
University Open Days are a great opportunity for you to get a feel for a university. As well as getting to know the campus, you have the chance to meet current students, find out more about the courses you are interested in and learn about any clubs and societies at the university.
Go along with a list prepared questions. Try to talk to the faculty staff who actually teach the course you're interested in and the students currently undertaking it.
To make the most of Open Days, download the Open Day Hints and Checklist [PDF 100kb] and consider the following:
- Plan well ahead. Decide which Open Days to attend, based on the Universities you are seriously considering as a preference.
- Remember it might be a weekend commitment. Consider your travel times and any accommodation needs, to maximise your time at the event.
- As well as the questions in our Open Day Hints and Checklist, write a list of your own questions to ask on the day.
Final checklist, then it’s time to apply
Tick off these last few items and you'll be ready to leap into uni:
- when choosing a course, think about how you’ll get to the campus;
- if you need different learning options, to fit study in with work, does it offer these;
- is there flexibility to change courses or disciplines if you change your mind;
- with a wide range of courses on offer, different ATARs will apply to different courses. If you don’t think you'll get the ATAR you need for your first choice, look for other courses that may be available with a lower ATAR. Transferring back to your preferred course later on, if you are doing well, may be possible;
- when offered a place in a course, make sure you follow the right steps to accept your offer and follow the university enrolment steps, which should be outlined to you with your offer.
Study pathways are not always smooth. There may be problems or barriers which you will have to overcome. There are many people you can talk to about any issues you have while studying (including counsellors, academics and administration staff). These are some common barriers that students experience:
...I complete the prerequisite subjects but my ATAR score isn’t high enough for the course I want?
- Check the middle-band entry consideration for your course as it may enable you to get in. Alternatively, you could begin a similar degree with a lower ATAR at the same university, or a different one, and look to transfer into your desired degree later on.
...I complete VCE and get the ATAR for my preferred course, but I did not complete the pre-requisite VCE subjects?
- Most universities will allow you to take a bridging subject or might offer you a competency exam. Contact the university you wish to apply for, to find out what they recommend.
...I’m interested in studying at uni but I haven’t got the marks and am unsure if I could even handle the material?
- Some universities allow for “single subject study” where you can study a single subject from a course. Then depending on your results you can potentially be offered a spot in the full course.
...I find that the course or university I chose isn't for me?
- Once you are in the university system, it is often possible to transfer from one course or university to another. Speak to an academic advisor about your transfer options and what credits you may get for relevant subjects already completed.
...I didn’t finish Year 12 but am now really interested in studying for a degree?
- Some universities have “tertiary enabling programs” which allow entry into tertiary study. Alternatively, you could study a diploma course at TAFE and use this as a stepping stone to get into university.
...I'm doing a diploma course but decide I really want to get a degree ?
- If you do well enough in your subjects, it’s possible that you could transfer from the diploma to the bachelor degree course. You may even get credits for relevant subjects completed. You will need to talk to someone in the future students area of the university offering the degree course you want to do, to see what your options are.
LEAP Partner Universities - from here, you can follow links to our partner universities' LEAP landing pages, for direct access to info about each university, their courses, scholarships, student support services, pathways options and other useful information.
Engineers Australia (Vic. Division) - heaps of info about the profession. Check out the sections For Students and What is Engineering?
IEEE - Victorian Section – Largest Organisation for Advancement of Technology
Students - Beyond School has lots relevant information about the world of work, work experience, career planning, pathways and development, and occupations for secondary school students. (Victorian Government site)
Study Assist helps school students and their families understand what support they are eligible for if pursuing higher education, based on a range of study options available to them. (Australian Government site)
My Future has a guide to career development, to education beyond Year 12, videos by professionals and interactive career quizzes. My Future also has a new myfuture forum, a tool allowing you to talk to people working in a range of industries. (Australian Government site)
Bullseye posters - School subjects you like and jobs they can lead to. (Australian Government site)
Job Outlook is a careers and labour market research information site to help individuals decide on their future career. (Australian Government site)
My Skills - Online information about vocational education and training options. (Australian Government site)
Good Universities Guide - Online careers guide.