Apprenticeships combine real work with training and study. Being an apprentice isn’t the same as being a college or university student. You won’t just study and gain new knowledge as an apprentice, you’ll be putting what you learn straight into practice. Apprentices don’t have to pay tuition fees either.
What is an apprenticeship?
As an apprentice you’ll:
- train for the workplace
- get hands-on experience
- earn a salary and get the same rights as employees, including sick leave and holiday pay
- spend at least 20% of your working hours training or studying
- undertake ongoing assessments, including an end-point assessment
It can take between one and six years to complete an apprenticeship, depending on:
- the apprenticeship you choose
- your apprenticeship level
- your previous experience
If an apprentice needs to take a break from their learning, it could take them longer to complete their apprenticeship.
Who can be an apprentice?
You can apply for an apprenticeship if you’re:
- 16 or older
- not in full-time education
- live in England
What are the different apprenticeship levels?
There are four apprenticeship levels and each one has an equivalent education level:
These apprenticeships provide basic knowledge and skills for specific jobs and are equal to GCSEs.
These apprenticeships offer more specialised knowledge and skills and are equal to A levels.
Levels 4 to 7
These apprenticeships focus on higher-level professional skills and can be equal to a foundation degree, a Higher National Certificate (HNC), or a Higher National Diploma (HND).
Levels 6 to 7
These apprenticeships lead to either a full bachelor's or master's degree. Some apprenticeships require certain qualifications, for example GCSE English and maths. You may be given extra training to meet these qualifications. You may also have to meet academic requirements to apply for a higher or degree apprenticeship.
When you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent education level. For example, if you complete a level 3 apprenticeship, you’ll achieve the equivalent of an A level.
What will I earn as an apprentice?
Apprentices are entitled to minimum rates of pay. What you earn depends on:
- the apprenticeship you’re doing
- your employer
- your role
- your age
- what year of an apprenticeship you’re in
Apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage rate for apprentices if they’re aged:
- 16 to 18
- 19 or older and in the first year of their apprenticeship
If you’re 19 or older and have completed the first year of an apprenticeship, you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for your age.
Apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary
Apprentices aged 16 to 24 who are in care or are care leavers could be entitled to a £3,000 bursary. Read more about the apprenticeships care leavers’ bursary.