What Subjects are Needed to Become a Mechanical Engineer

Requirements to study Mechanical Engineering in South Africa


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On this page, we explore what is needed to become a Mechanical Engineer, including which grade 10 high school subjects marks/ results are needed or required to study Mechanical Engineering in South African Universities and Colleges? We also look at what APS Score is required for Mechanical Engineering Degree and Diploma courses. You should know that every learning institution, internationally or locally, will have its own set of requirements for Mechanical Engineering studies.

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what high school subjects are needed to become a mechanical engineer in South Africa

In South Africa, to lay the groundwork for a career in mechanical engineering, specific high school subjects are needed to become a Mechanical Engineer are:

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  1. Mathematics: A strong background in Mathematics is crucial for entering the field of mechanical engineering, as the subject is foundational for various engineering concepts. Higher-grade Maths is usually required for university admission.
  2. Physical Science: This subject, comprising Physics and Chemistry, is essential because it equips you with a basic understanding of how materials behave and interact, as well as the laws of motion and energy.
  3. English or First Language: Good communication skills are vital in any profession, including engineering. A strong grasp of English will help you in report writing, presenting, and understanding technical documentation.
  4. Information Technology or Computer Applications Technology (CAT): As engineering is increasingly reliant on computer-aided design (CAD) and other software, basic computer skills are a significant advantage.
  5. Additional Mathematics or Advanced Programmes Mathematics (if available): These subjects could give you an edge by providing a more in-depth understanding of mathematical principles used in engineering.
  6. Technical Drawing or Engineering Graphics and Design: While not always a requirement, these subjects can provide useful skills in visualizing and drafting engineering projects.

It’s crucial to check the specific admission requirements of the university you are interested in, as these subjects and grades can differ between institutions. Typically, a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with university exemption and good marks in Mathematics and Physical Science will make you eligible for a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering at a South African university.

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What to Study To Become a Mechanical Engineer in South Africa

To become a mechanical engineer, there are several study options available that vary in terms of duration, depth of study, and career outcomes. Here are some pathways you might consider:

What to Study To Become a Mechanical Engineer in South Africa
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Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering

The most straightforward route is to enroll in a four-year Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering or Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering at a recognized university. This program covers the fundamentals of mechanical design, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, material science, and other relevant topics. Upon completion, you’ll be considered an engineer-in-training and can proceed to gain practical experience.

Diploma in Mechanical Engineering

Some technical universities and colleges offer diploma courses in mechanical engineering. These programs are generally three years long and cover many of the same subjects as a bachelor’s degree but in less depth. Diploma holders often work as engineering technicians and can complete further studies to become fully qualified engineers.

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Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology

A Bachelor of Engineering Technology is another option and is generally more applied than a traditional engineering degree. Graduates of engineering technology programs can work as mechanical engineering technologists or technicians but may have a more limited scope of work compared to those with a traditional engineering degree.

5-year Integrated Master’s Program

Some universities offer a 5-year program that integrates bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This option is designed for students who are sure they want to specialize further in mechanical engineering. It can provide an advantage in job placements and career advancement.

Postgraduate Studies

After completing a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a Master of Science or Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering for more specialized knowledge. Doctoral studies (Ph.D.) in mechanical engineering allow for a focus on research and academia.

Online and Distance Learning

Online courses can be a flexible option for gaining the qualifications you need, although you will still require practical experience to become fully qualified. Many recognized universities offer online versions of their mechanical engineering programs.

Engineering Apprenticeships

While less common for mechanical engineers, apprenticeships are another path into the industry. Typically offered by employers, they combine work experience with academic study. Apprenticeships are more common in trades and vocational careers but are increasingly being used in engineering sectors as well.

Professional Certifications and Licenses

After completing your education and gaining some work experience, it’s often advisable or required to get professionally certified. In South Africa, the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) is responsible for the accreditation of engineering qualifications and the certification of engineers.

Selecting the right study option will depend on your career goals, academic background, and personal circumstances. Always check specific entry requirements and consult with educational advisors to make the best decision for your future.

What Mechanical Engineering Career is all about

Mechanical engineers develop and build engines that produce power from steam, petrol, nuclear fuels, and other sources of energy. They also develop and build a wide variety of machines that use power, including heating and ventilation equipment; cars; machine tools; and industrial-processing equipment.

What is the APS Score marks/ results for Mechanical Engineering

In order for you to get accepted at a University in South Africa, or (Colleges that use APS scores) for a qualification in Mechanical Engineering, you should possess a National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) with an APS score of between 26 -42. APS score is determined by the Grade 12 marks or results. It is also good to know that Universities and Colleges may use your Grade 11 marks if you applied before your matric results came out.

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The minimum requirements for a candidate to obtain a Grade 12 National Senior Certificate?

The minimum requirements are:

  • Achieve 40% in three subjects, one of which is an official language at Home Language level and 30% in three subjects.
  • Provide full evidence in the SBA component in the subjects offered

Correct Subject Choice is Important

When it comes to subject choices, every learner should ensure that their subject choice (from Grade 10 already) will lead them in pursuing the careers they want.

The subject choice at the end of Grade 9, or Grade 10 according to The Department of Education, could determine the field of study learners can follow once they complete school. In other words, if learners do not select the correct combination of subjects, they could find themselves unable to enter into certain higher or further education programmes. So when making this important subject choice, learners should consider their options for when they complete school and select accordingly.

How much does it cost to study Mechanical Engineering?

Although every learning institution will have its own fees structure and costing, studying Mechanical Engineering courses can range from R15 000 to R60 000 per annum. It is always advisable for learners to contact the institution they want to learn at in order to confirm the study fees amounts for the year.

Training and Courses to becoming a Mechanical Engineering in South Africa

To become a Professional Engineer, it is necessary to attend a university to take the four-year degree of Bachelor of Science in Engineering in the discipline of Mechanical Engineering. This is followed by a three year training period of postgraduate employment in industry after which the young engineer can apply for registration as a Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa. Those wishing to study Mechanical Engineering at a university should in general, be in possession of a school-leaving certificate with matriculation exemption with above-average marks in mathematics and physical science at higher grade.

Watch: Mechanical Engineering at UKZN


The following universities offer degrees in Mechanical Engineering

Training – Universities of Technology

The Professional Engineering Technician

For those students who prefer a more practical orientated training, the schools of mechanical engineering at the various universities of technology offer courses structured on a basis of four semesters attendance at the university of technology followed by two semesters of experiential training leading to a National Diploma: Engineering: Mechanical. After a three-year (minimum) post-qualification employment period, the candidate may apply for registration as a Professional Engineering Technician with the Engineering Council of South Africa.

The Professional Engineering Technologist

After obtaining a National Diploma, the graduate may continue his studies for a further one-year to complete the B-Tech Degree. After a three-year (minimum) post qualification employment period, the trainee may apply for registration as a Professional Engineering Technologist with the Engineering Council of South Africa. Subjects studied are similar to those of university study, however, emphasis is less theoretical and more on the application of technology.

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Those wishing to study at a university of technology require a senior certificate or equivalent with above average passes in mathematics and physical science. However, other conditions of entrance can apply and prospective students not having these qualifications should apply to the university of technology of their choice for further details.The following universities of technology offer courses in Mechanical Engineering:




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