An introduction to apprenticeships

Apprenticeships equal paid real-life work experience paired with a bank of transferable skills and qualifications that can help you develop a successful career.

Apprentices at work What is an apprenticeship like?

An apprenticeship is in essence a full-time job with training. Basically, you’ll work alongside experienced members of staff to learn the skills needed for your chosen career.

As well as learning on the job, you’ll go to a college or training provider, usually on a day-release basis, to study towards a nationally recognised qualification, such as an NVQ. This gives you the perfect mix of theory and practical learning.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

Different types of apprenticeships take different amounts of time to complete, depending on the level, sector and employer. Typically, an apprenticeship takes between one and four years to complete.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

There are lots of great reasons to do an apprenticeship including:

  • Money - you’ll be working for an employer and earning a salary while you learn. Salaries vary, but apprentices earn an average of £170 per week;
  • Other perks - you’ll get paid holidays too, plus the same benefits as other employees, which might include pension contributions, a subsidised canteen, access to leisure facilities, etc;
  • Qualifications - as you work through your apprenticeship you’ll gain nationally recognised qualifications;
  • Training - with an apprenticeship under your belt, employers will know that you’ve got the skills and training needed to do the job and they’ll be more likely to hire you.

Apprenticeship levels

There are four levels of apprenticeships:

Intermediate level apprenticeship

In a Level 2 apprenticeship, the qualifications you receive are equivalent to five GCSEs at grades A-C.

Advanced level apprenticeship

A Level 3 apprenticeship is considered equivalent to gaining two A levels.

Higher apprenticeship

Higher apprenticeships come in Levels 4-7, leading to a foundation level degree or above.

Degree apprenticeship

Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships lead to either a bachelor’s or master’s degree.


To start an apprenticeship you must be 16 or over and not in full-time education, but keep in mind you can still apply to join a scheme while you are still at school.


With thanks to The Apprenticeship Guide

Updated August 2016