What Does an Engineering Apprentice Do?

Engineering header

Engineering is a large and very diverse industry - so large in fact that the variety and types of jobs are almost endless. But what does a trade trained Engineer do?

While there are a lot of answers to the question, in order to ensure some accuracy, we’ll focus on Engineering Fabrication (Boilermaker) and Engineering Mechanical (Fitter)

Engineering Fabrication is an enduringly popular trade option for young apprentices. It involves working with metal: grinding, welding and constructing equipment from raw metal plates, steel or pipes. Boilermakers and Sheet Metal workers create and maintain equipment from small items up to the large earth moving machinery. However, this job isn’t just welding and grinding; the complete package for those who decide to try it can be quite challenging. You will also need to be able to read computer drawings, be exact in your attention to detail and you must be able to work to strict timelines in order to meet your production deadlines.

Engineering Mechanical is another popular trade for young apprentices. It is sometimes better known as Fitting Machining or Fitting and Turning, but can also include Diesel Fitting and Air-Con and Refrigeration mechanics. Mechanical engineers also work with raw metal, forming it into different shapes using lathes, mills and other industry equipment. This particular position has boundless opportunity for growth in your career. There are three main areas to follow: maintenance/assembly fitter; fluid power hydraulics and pneumatics, or; CNC machining.  Like fabrication, you will need to be able to read and interpret computer drawings.  Accuracy when measuring is the most important skill in this trade - you could be working in measurements much smaller than millimetres.

Entering the engineering trade is very rewarding, and fascinating to see a drawing developed and produced from the ground up. The level of skill required in this trade is very high, and the precision to detail is so important.

If you’re interested in pursuing a trade career in engineering, you can start by talking to your industrial teachers at school, and participating in metal and engineering subjects there. This will give you a basic skillset and vital knowledge which can help you gain an apprenticeship after school. If you didn’t take these subjects, don’t sweat it! A solid understanding of mathematics, a touch of creativity, spatial awareness and an attention to detail is what you’ll need to be successful. There is a high level of working with formulas and equations, and engineers should have the ability to see ahead to the finished product.

Engineering is an exciting and diverse industry.  We’ve only looked at two engineering streams here, but the options and career prospects are really limitless.  So, if you’re leaning towards an engineering apprenticeship, get out there, talk to your teachers, parents or perhaps another apprentice you may know to see which path you may like to follow and just how exciting engineering can be. 

Published 02 November 2015