How do you decide which apprenticeship is right for you?

Back to homepage How do you decide which apprenticeship is right for you?

With more than 400 options, you’re spoilt for choice in your search for an apprenticeship

There are more than 400 apprenticeships available in England. But how do you identify an apprenticeship that may interest you and warrant further research? How do you match who you are now with what you want to do with the rest of your life? These are important and complicated questions, but they needn’t be difficult to answer, if you follow this simple three-step plan.

Step 1: What do you enjoy doing?

Your interests and hobbies are the things you enjoy doing most, so they’re a good basis for choosing a career. You’ll spend a good proportion of your adult life in various roles, so they should be doing something that you’re committed to and wish to develop in. Above all, you need to bear in mind that you’ll be spending eight hours per day in an office, giving your weekends because you’re on rota, or spending extended periods of time away from home because your career demands it. Your ideal apprenticeship needs to be something you have a passion for.

A good example is being outdoors. Do you like going for walks? Do you spend a lot of your time in the countryside, or at a public park? If you live for fresh air, you may not enjoy spending your entire working day behind a desk, crunching numbers in a spreadsheet.

The ideal place to start if being outdoors is among your interests is the agriculture, environmental and animal care group of apprenticeships, where you can learn about an environmental conservation apprenticeship, which could see you working on an estate managing the countryside, as a ranger preserving the countryside, or as a dry stone waller, repairing or rebuilding walls or landscape features.

What if video games are your thing? An interest such as this is where apprenticeships offer options, because video games are the result of collaborative effort, involving the skills of artists, designers, writers and many others. Is your interest in playing or creating? Using digital media systems probably lends itself to the digital and ICT group of apprenticeships, where you can learn about software testers, who design and prepare test plans and conduct software testing to ensure that software is fit for purpose. If you’re interest is more creative, then head over to the creative, media and the arts apprenticeships, where you can find out about creative and digital media apprenticeships, which offer routes into animation and interactive media, among others.

Step 2: What were/are your strongest subjects at school?

Your school subjects are important to which apprenticeship you choose, because the former represent the most significant proportion of your life so far, and the latter the most significant yet to come. The subjects you studied at school, particularly those you excelled in, offered you the opportunity to put your interests and hobbies into practice, particularly the skills you gained during the course of your past-time pursuits. Under the tutelage of your teachers, you would’ve been given an academic grounding, allowing you to develop and flourish. Where you ceased to be interested, you can accept that those particular skills in that area weren’t a passion after all, and so wouldn’t be appropriate to pursue as a career.

Where you did excel, however, that’s extremely important to which apprenticeship you choose, because it means you have the academic grounding as well as the basic skills to take it further. If you enjoy being outdoors, particularly while running, and excelled in PE and cross-country running, for example, you’ll see in your development as a person a clear pathway that would be wise to follow. Your next step would be the sport and fitness group of apprenticeships, where you can learn about the sporting excellence apprenticeship and what you’d need to do to become a professional sportsperson.

Of course, not everyone has a clear pathway they can follow. You may have interests that aren’t easily recognisable in your school subjects, or you may not be academically inclined and so didn’t excel in them in the way described above. That’s not a problem. Apprenticeships offer vocational training that can overcome these obstacles, focusing your education on directly applicable subjects, such as specific theory relating to a particular trade or profession. It’s worth bearing in mind that most school subjects and interests teach widely applicable skills. Take English literature: during the course of your education, you’ll learn to interpret texts and understand context, which are two essential skills for almost every job in the world. Be broad-minded during this step, because you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how much you can do when you think about it.

Step 3: What is the apprenticeship like?

When all is said and done, you need to learn what the apprenticeship you take a fancy to is really like. What does the role actually entail? What are the advantages and disadvantages (because every jobs comes with both)? Is it something you can develop a passion for? If you’re going to find and keep a career, you need to know what’s in store and whether it’s something you want to do.

This is why Success Stories highlight particular apprenticeships and show what apprentices who’ve done or are doing them really think. Young people from different backgrounds and across sectors reveal why they chose their apprenticeship, what they’ve gained from it, and what you can do to enjoy the successes they have, and develop their same passions. At this point, it’s also worth speaking to the people around you. Your peers, for example, may be able to tell you why they have chosen a certain apprenticeship and their answer can inform your own. Your teachers and parents, even your GP or the owner of a local business you frequent; they can all inform your decision. It’s just about gathering as much information as you can.