Skip to main content
  1. Home
  2. Apprentices
  3. How do they work?
  4. Becoming an apprentice
Apprentices

Becoming an apprentice

To become an apprentice, you must:

  • be 16 or over

  • not already be in full-time education

  • live in England

You can start an apprenticeship whether you’re starting your career, want a change or you're upskilling in your current job. You can have a previous qualification like a degree and still start an apprenticeship.

If you don’t live in England, check out apprenticeship options in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

As an apprentice you’ll:

  • learn and train for a specific job

  • get paid and receive holiday leave 

  • get hands-on experience in a real job

  • study for at least 20% of your working hours - usually at a college, university or with a training provider 

  • complete assessments during and at the end of your apprenticeship

  • be on a career path with lots of future potential

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a real job where you learn, gain experience and get paid. You’re an employee with a contract of employment and holiday leave. By the end of an apprenticeship, you'll have the right skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career.

It can take between one and 6 years to complete an apprenticeship depending on which one you choose, what level it is and your previous experience. It’s funded from contributions made by the government and your employer.

Levels of an apprenticeship

Each apprenticeship has a level and an equivalent education level. You can start an apprenticeship at any level. 

Depending on the level, some apprenticeships may:

  • require previous qualifications such as an English or maths GCSE

  • give extra training in the English or maths skills needed so you’re at the right level

At the end of 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.

LevelEquivalent education level
Intermediate2GCSE
Advanced3A level
Higher4,5,6 and 7Foundation degree and above
Degree6 and 7Bachelor’s or master’s degree

If you think you need more skills and work experience before starting an apprenticeship, you can find a traineeship instead.

Browse apprenticeships before you apply

Browse now

Get free help and support

Call 0800 0150 400 or email nationalhelpdesk@apprenticeships.gov.uk

BETA: This is a new service - your feedback will help us to improve it.