There are numerous different types and levels of apprenticeship, covering over 500 different varieties. Each apprenticeship has been given a specific level, which corresponds to the standard of knowledge, skills and behaviours you develop during the apprenticeship.
Entry Requirements and Disqualifications
In order to apply for an apprenticeship, you cannot have a qualification in the field which is of the same level or higher to the qualification you would receive from the apprenticeship.
You don’t have to have any corresponding qualifications within the field you are applying to. This means that you could go straight into doing a level 6 or 7 apprenticeship, if the training provider believes it is the right apprenticeship for you.
However, each apprenticeship does have specific criteria to meet in order for you to be eligible, such as grades, which are set by the training provider.
The times shown may change if you have to spend more time completing the apprenticeship. If you have not acquired Level 2 English, maths and digital qualifications, you will have to acquire them as part of the apprenticeship, which will extend the time it will take to complete.
Types of Apprenticeship
Also known as Level 2 Apprenticeships, intermediate apprenticeships are the lowest level in terms of academic attainment but are the most popular type of apprenticeships in the UK. They are the equivalent of 5 GCSEs at A – C grade, or 9 to 4 on the new scale.
The reason for their enduring popularity is that they offer an excellent foundation for entering a new career and a level 2 qualification can be achieved without having to be at school or college on a full-time basis.
Level 2 (Intermediate) apprentices are working full-time and gaining experience in their chosen area and 20% of that time will be spent at a training centre, a local college or learning remotely for the “off the job” portion of the apprenticeship.
At Level 2, the focus will be on training you to work to your full potential in an entry-level position in the job. It is unlikely that there will be a focus on increasing your responsibilities at this stage but you will learn key skills that will help with employability in the future.
A successful intermediate apprenticeship will allow you to take on an advanced apprenticeship in the future.
Level 3 or advanced apprenticeships are the next level up and are the equivalent of 2 good A-Level passes, a Btec or Level 3 NVQ, and are a brilliant opportunity for school or college leavers to get some experience in their chosen field as well as study for a relevant qualification.
Not everyone wants to go to University and this is an excellent alternative to sitting in dry lectures from boring old tutors in perpetually too-hot lecture theatres. As with the Level 2 apprenticeship, this is also a full-time working role with 20% of time spent with a training provider or college learning the academic side of things.
Your apprenticeship at this level will reflect the more advanced level and you will be slowly assigned more responsibilities within the company that you are working with. Your confidence will increase along with your success at taking on more responsibility and knowing that there is also always support there if you need it. Think of it like being on a bike with stabilisers, you are safe to figure out the balance you need to achieve forward momentum without having to worry about “falling off”.
Higher apprenticeships range from Level 4 to Level 7 and the easiest way to explain the different levels is that education in the UK goes from Level 1 to Level 8, with Level 1 being low GCSE grades and 8 being a PhD, which is the highest level that a University can bestow.
Level 4 is the next educational level up from A Levels and Scottish Highers in the hierarchy of education and is above a Btec or Level 3 NVQ.
Regardless of the level of the higher apprenticeship, they will all take the same basic format but the difficulty of the academic work will scale depending on the level that you have chosen to pursue. If you are doing level 7, this is equivalent to University Master’s Degree level, which is the level above an Undergraduate Degree.
What makes this type of apprenticeship a real advantage is that you are potentially getting a top tier educational qualification for considerably less money than full-time study and are actually getting paid while studying. Unlike full-time education, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees so you will avoid the crippling student debt that many are saddled with and are still paying off years later.
On top of this, you will have relevant experience in your chosen field and may have been pursuing your career for five years by this point, making connections and friends who will help smooth your future progression.
Degree apprenticeships are Level 6, so they are Undergraduate Degree level and you will qualify with a degree at the end of your apprenticeship of exactly the same level as other people who instead choose to attend University and do full-time undergraduate courses.
The benefit in doing a degree apprenticeship is that not only will you not have to pay any tuition fees but you will have been earning both money and experience all the while. This gives you an immediate advantage over people who took the more travelled path of going to university full-time and puts you ahead of inexperienced new graduates on the career ladder.
Under each type of apprenticeship explained in this guide, there is an example from each of the 15 sectors that offer apprenticeships. If there is no example for a sector under that heading, it is because that sector does not yet offer an apprenticeship at that level.
Through discussions with key members in each industry, known as Trailblazers, new apprenticeship standards are continuously being created. Make sure to keep checking for any new apprenticeship standards in the field of your interest, as there may be our dream course coming soon. You can explore hundreds of opportunities with our Apprenticeship Standards Search Tool.