A-Levels vs Apprenticeships: What Should You Choose?

Written by Calvin Bowers

One of the first times young people will make a choice about their career is after GCSEs. At first, it may feel daunting to decide which path you want to take, but don’t worry; there is plenty of guidance out there to help you make the right choice. It’s important to remember that each choice you make is just a small step in your career, and most people will pursue many different jobs and avenues throughout their life.

Previously, people saw A-Levels as the default option if you wanted to continue learning after GCSE’s, but we know that A-Levels aren’t right for everybody. If you want to continue developing your skills and knowledge, but aren’t suited to the traditional classroom environment, then you could consider taking an apprenticeship instead. Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages, and A-Levels might be right for one student but not for another.

One of the simplest ways to begin thinking about apprenticeships vs A-Levels is to think about which subjects interest you the most. And which subjects, skills, and ideas do you want to continue developing beyond school and college.

In this article, we will talk through A-Levels vs Apprenticeships to help students decide which one is right for them. Here at Employing an Apprentice, we believe in empowering young people with all the information they need so they feel confident enough to decide their future.

The Benefits of Apprenticeships 

Let’s start with apprenticeships. Have a read of the list below to find out some of the benefits of doing an apprenticeship after you finish school:

  • Apprenticeships enable students to develop their practical skills through work experience, as well as learning the knowledge of a subject.
  • Students can get a foot in a company’s door by training on the job, leading to full-time work further down the line.
  • Apprenticeships are a way to earn a wage even while still studying and learning.
  • Apprenticeships are an excellent option for vocational subjects that can’t be taught in the classroom.
  • There are different apprenticeship levels which makes it easy to progress through the relevant qualifications, even up to degree level.
  • Apprenticeships can help to develop independence and confidence by giving you responsibility from day one.

The Benefits of A-Levels  

On the other hand, some students may be better suited to studying more academic subjects through A-Levels. Here are some of the benefits of studying A-Levels:

  • Students gain an in-depth knowledge of a subject
  • Studying A-Levels develops your general academic skills such as critical thinking, reading and writing, revising data and much more
  • A-Levels prepare students to study subjects at university by developing their ability to think and learn independently
  • They enable students to keep their options open by studying a handful of options
  • Students are supported by the school or college environment and can spend their lessons with other young people.

How to Decide What to Choose

Once you have weighed up the benefits of A-Levels and apprenticeships, it’s time to work out which is best for you and your career. We have come up with three factors to consider to help you decide.


The first thing to consider is whether you have any long-term goals and, if you do, which route can best help you to achieve them. For example, you may have a dream job in mind that needs a particular qualification—research whether A-Levels or an apprenticeship would best help you to achieve this. Or maybe you have a goal outside of work, such as moving away from home, then university and A-Levels might be the correct route for you.


While it is maybe a little early to start thinking about money and financial goals, it can help to work out what is best for you in the short term. One of the most significant differences between A-Levels and apprenticeships is that you are earning a wage on an apprenticeship. If having your own money as soon as possible is essential to you, consider doing an apprenticeship.

Learning Preferences

Finally, you need to think about how you learn best and what style of learning you enjoy. If you prefer practical, hands-on training, then technical education may suit you better. Alternatively, if you enjoy reading and writing and learning through listening to others, then the traditional classroom learning style may be better for you.

To find apprenticeship opportunities near you, have a look at our jobs board.

Does Doing an Apprenticeship Cost Less Than Going to University? 2022-03-11T16:21:03+00:00

Yes, apprenticeships are a more cost-effective route than university. If you choose to go to university, you will get government loans to cover the cost of your tuition fees and your living costs, but as these are loans, you will have to pay it back over time. Further, many students choose to work alongside their university degree to help cover the day to day costs of living at university.

Alternatively, apprentices earn a wage from day one of their apprenticeships, like anyone in a traditional job. You also don’t have to pay anything towards your training cost, even if it’s a degree apprenticeship. For more information, visit our guides to apprenticeship costs and university costs.

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Last Updated: Thursday August 4 2022
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