A Teacher’s Guide to Apprenticeship Levels

Written by Calvin Bowers

If you are a teacher or an education provider, it’s important that you understand apprenticeship levels, and what they can provide your students. This is especially important for those teachers who assist with careers and employment conversations.

Despite their rising popularity, many people still don’t understand the different apprenticeship levels and who can start an apprenticeship. This can lead to apprenticeships not being promoted in schools or discussed as a valuable option for young people.

Here at Employing an Apprentice, we firmly believe that vocational skills-based training should be valued the same way A-levels and university are.


What Teachers Need to Know About Apprenticeship Levels

There are four levels of apprenticeships to understand, each at a different educational level. While lower-level apprenticeships tend to be completed by those 16+ when leaving school, in reality, there are no rules about who can take an apprenticeship and when.

As each employer sets their entry requirements, some employers may not require somebody to have done previous levels before starting a higher apprenticeship level. The only thing to remember is that you can’t do an apprenticeship at a lower level than a qualification you already have if they are in the same field or industry. This is because apprenticeships need to be teaching you substantial new information.


Types of Apprenticeship Levels

We’ve put together a list of the different types of apprenticeship levels along with some key information about each one. 


Intermediate Apprenticeships 

Level: 2

Education equivalent: 5 GCSE’s at pass level

Duration: Typically takes 12-18 months

This is the lowest apprenticeship level and is, therefore, the most popular with school leavers and those starting their careers. Intermediate apprenticeships would be great for any of your students who aren’t keen on studying for their A-Levels but want to continue learning and developing their skills through an educational environment. You can find examples of intermediate apprenticeships on our jobs board.


Advanced Apprenticeships 

Level: 3

Education equivalent: 2 A-Level passes

Duration: Typically takes 15-18 months

Advanced apprenticeships are the level above Intermediate and are still a relatively low level of apprenticeship, which means they are great for somebody at the beginning of their career or somebody leaving education. It’s common to do an advanced apprenticeship after completing an intermediate apprenticeship as a way of boosting qualifications and finding better job opportunities.


Higher Apprenticeships

Level: 4 and 5

Education equivalent/qualification earned: foundation degree, Higher National Diploma, NVQ Level 4

Duration: Typically takes 3 – 5 years

Higher apprenticeships are a much more advanced apprenticeship level, meaning that more employers will be looking for prior knowledge or experience in the field. There is often more competition for higher apprenticeships so candidates who have any relevant experience will stand out from the crowd. They appeal to both young people trying to take the next step in their education and adults who might be re-training or qualifying in their industry.


Degree Apprenticeships 

Level: 6 and 7

Education equivalent/qualification earned: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree.

Duration: Typically taken 3 – 6 years

Degree apprenticeships are the highest level of apprenticeship and are much more specialised than previous levels. They are typically offered in roles that need an advanced level of knowledge, for example, a STEM subject. Degree apprenticeships are a partnership between an employer and a university or higher education institution.

Teachers should encourage students who are interested in university to also consider a degree apprenticeship. They offer a variety of benefits including:

  • Earn while you learn – students get a degree without paying tuition fees. They will also earn a living wage throughout their apprenticeship giving them a financial head start over university graduates.
  • Real-world experience – as apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job experience and classroom learning, apprentices gain valuable work experience throughout their training that university goers don’t.
  • Job offers – a large percentage of apprentices are offered permanent positions with the same employer once their apprenticeship is completed. This means they can go straight into full-time, paid employment and avoid highly competitive graduate schemes.


Advice for Teachers

As a teacher, you play a fundamental role in shaping the future leaders of our society. That’s why it’s of utmost importance that you have as much information as possible when offering guidance to your students.

That’s where we come in! Here at Employing an Apprentice, we’re dedicated to connecting budding apprentices with the top apprenticeship employers in the UK through our apprenticeship jobs board. We work hard to provide up-to-date and detailed information on apprenticeships and apprenticeship standards in the UK. 

Our Teacher Advice Hub is packed with information on everything you need to know about apprenticeships. You can also learn more about: 

By knowing as much as possible about apprenticeships, you and your student can work things out together and ensure they are making the right choices for their future.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Finally, stay up-to-date with all things apprenticeships by signing up for the Employing an Apprentice newsletter below.

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Last Updated: Monday October 16 2023
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