What is an apprenticeship?

It's a real job, with real training, meaning you can earn while you learn and gain a nationally recognised qualification.

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16 living in England, there are different entry requirements depending on the sector and job. Over 56,000 learners started a higher or degree apprenticeship in England over the last year. There are 28,000 + online for you to apply for in industries such as aerospace, accountancy, construction and creative media. Apprenticeships can last from a year up to five years. How long your apprenticeship lasts will depend on your age, previous skills and experience, as well as the specific framework / standard you are following.

There is a minimum wage for apprentices which you are guaranteed but many employers pay more than this dependant on the sector, region and apprenticeship level. More details on salaries and entry criteria in specific apprenticeship occupations can be found at ‘Find an apprenticeship’. You'll be expected to work at least 30 hours a week, and you'll get at least 20 paid holiday days a year in addition to bank holidays. Costs of your training and qualifications are fully covered meaning no tuition fees for degree-level qualifications.

Apprentices are also entitled to an NUS card through the National Union of Students. This gets you the same discounts as any university or college student from a large number of shops and websites. Some areas also have other benefits for apprentices or those seeking an apprenticeship, such as travel discount cards and help towards travel costs for interviews.

What levels are there?

There are various levels of apprenticeship to apply for depending on current skills and qualifications. Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels: 

Apprenticeship levels chart

Where can you do an apprenticeship?

More than 240,000 workplaces employ an apprentice including the likes of Rolls-Royce, BBC, ASOS, ITV, Barclays, Airbus, IBM and Google, as well as thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. Apprenticeships are not limited to just London and big cities either. You can find apprenticeship vacancies in every region, town and city in England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own apprenticeship services).

What are the benefits of studying an apprenticeship?

  • Earn as you learn: no student loan!
  • Receive relevant training and learn job-specific skills
  • Alternative to university: higher and degree apprenticeships provide a different route to a degree from traditional university study
  • Better career prospects: you'll improve your career prospects, becoming more employable because you have experience of work.
  • Higher earnings: higher apprentices could earn up to £150,000 more on average over their lifetime compared to those with Level 3 vocational qualifications.
  • Job satisfaction: 89% of apprentices say they are satisfied with their apprenticeship.
  • Paid holiday: get at least 20 paid holiday days a year, plus bank holidays.
  • How does apprenticeship training work?

Apprenticeships include training via an official training provider. This could take place off-site, in your work place or online. Increasingly universities are getting involved in degree and higher apprenticeships, running and awarding qualifications up to Bachelor's and Master's degree level to apprentices. This makes apprenticeships a realistic alternative to university for the wanting to study for a degree. 

Apprenticeship videos

What are your options? Video by the National Apprenticeship Service.

How to apply for apprenticeships. Video by the National Apprenticeship Service.