Apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn. Here we explain how this works and how you can find out more.
What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to combine working with studying. This means you can develop career related skills, get a formal qualification and earn money.
There are different levels of apprenticeship qualifications. These range from functional skills and GCSEs to degree apprenticeships.
The Prospects website has information on different apprenticeship levels.
Higher, degree and graduate apprenticeships
A higher apprenticeship involves you working while also studying for a higher education qualification. This is called a graduate apprenticeship in Scotland and a higher level apprenticeship in Northern Ireland.
A degree apprenticeship is a type of higher apprenticeship where you’re employed while studying specifically for a degree or for degree-level qualifications.
Apprenticeships vary across the UK. See How to find out more and apply for degree apprenticeships.
How it works
Work and study together will be the same hours as having a full-time job. Each apprenticeship is different and how you learn will be decided by your employer. This will include learning from colleagues, training at work and spending time at university or college.
It takes between two and six years to complete a higher, graduate or degree apprenticeship. This depends on the type of apprenticeship, what country you’re in, the sector you’ve chosen and the needs of your employer.
What you will need
To apply for an apprenticeship at this level, you may need a level 3 qualification. This could be a lower level apprenticeship or A-level, BTEC, NVQ or equivalent qualifications.
You may be able to get in with different qualifications if you have a lot of experience in the sector you’ve chosen.
The apprenticeship job description will have information on what you need and the skills an employer is looking for.
What you’re entitled to
As an apprentice you will have a contract of employment. The amount you’ll earn will depend on what kind of apprenticeship you’re doing.
You’ll be entitled to paid holidays and bank holidays.
You may be entitled to additional financial support depending on your circumstances. See our section called How will I pay for it?.
The benefits of a higher, graduate or degree apprenticeship are:
- you earn while you learn
- your fees are paid by your employer and/or the government
- your learning is directly related to your chosen career
- you’ll have good opportunities for career progression
- you’ll be developing practical and transferable skills.
Things to consider
Apprenticeships are a great way of being able to earn while you learn. They offer a skills based route into higher education and mean you don’t have to take out loans. But they are not an easy option.
Higher apprenticeships, including higher level, graduate and degree apprenticeships, can be hard to find. There are more every year but there aren’t yet many opportunities and they can be very competitive.
Working and studying at the same time can be difficult and you will be expected to achieve in both. It’s a good idea to look carefully at the details and decide whether it will suit you.
If you have a disability and are considering a higher or degree apprenticeship, you may find this guidance from the Disabled Students’ Commission useful.
How to find out more and apply
You can read about how to become an apprentice in England on the GOV.UK website. You can also find and apply for an apprenticeship.
The nidirect website has information on apprenticeships. You can also search for vacancies.
Apprenticeships in Scotland are delivered by Skills Development Scotland. You can find a vacancy on their website.
Careers Wales has information about apprenticeships in Wales and how to apply.