Which apprenticeship level is right for you?

Back to homepage Which apprenticeship level is right for you?

Whether you’re about to finish secondary school and in need of an entry-level position, or you’re in search of an alternative to university, there is an apprenticeship out there for you

Intermediate (level 2)

Intermediate (or level 2) apprenticeships are designed to cover entry-level roles and provide the basic skills and knowledge required to begin a career. If you’re aged 16, they represent the ideal opportunity for you to embark on further training outside of the classroom. Typically over a 12-month period, you’ll work toward obtaining qualifications equivalent to GCSEs at grade C and above, usually in the form of a diploma relevant to the area you’re working in.

Entry requirements will vary from one or more GCSEs to no formal qualifications or experience, and employers are encouraged to make their apprenticeships as accessible as possible, so relevant experience and skills will be considered. Upon completion of an intermediate apprenticeship, you’ll be able to seek advancement at your current employer, undertake an advanced qualification at your current employer or elsewhere, or move into further education at a higher level than when you left school.

Some of the intermediate apprenticeships on offer, across sectors such as agriculture, environmental, animal care, construction, business, administration, vehicles, transport, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, science and hospitality, include:

  • Abattoir worker
  • Adult care worker
  • Animal care and welfare assistant
  • Autocare technician
  • Bicycle mechanic
  • Bricklayer
  • Carpentry and joinery
  • Commercial thermal insulation operative
  • Community activator coach
  • Equine groom
  • Express delivery operative
  • Footwear manufacturer
  • Junior estate agent
  • Maritime caterer
  • Metal recycling general operative
  • Network operations
  • Nuclear operative
  • Optical assistant
  • Passenger transport driver in bus, coach and rail
  • Pest control technician
  • Piling attendant
  • Poultry worker
  • Rail infrastructure operator
  • Recruitment resourcer
  • Scaffolder
  • Science manufacturing process operative
  • Sewing machinist
  • Textile manufacturing operative
  • Trade supplier

Advanced (level 3)

Advanced (or level 3) apprenticeships are the next step on the apprenticeship ladder, offering an alternative to A-levels, with which they’re considered equivalent, and are suitable if you have skills, experience or qualifications in a sector already and are looking to progress. Typically over an 18-month to 24-month period, you’ll delve into technical detail and gain expertise in your chosen sector.

Entry requirements are stricter for advanced apprenticeships, with many often requiring up to five GCSEs at grade C or above, usually including maths and English. At this level and depending on the apprenticeship, you may achieve professional recognition upon completion by the relevant professional organisation or institute.

Some of the advanced apprenticeships on offer, across sectors such as agriculture, environmental, animal care, business, administration, construction, creative, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, science and financial services, include:

  • Boatbuilder
  • Dental laboratory assistant
  • Dental nurse
  • Financial services administrator
  • Food and drink maintenance engineer
  • Gas engineering
  • Gas network craftsperson
  • Installation electrician/maintenance electrician
  • Insurance practitioner
  • Investment operations technician
  • Junior energy manager
  • Junior journalist
  • Laboratory technician
  • Land-based service engineering technician
  • Live event rigger
  • Mortgage adviser
  • Motor vehicle service and maintenance technician
  • Non-destructive testing engineering technician
  • Paralegal
  • Power network craftsperson
  • Public service operational delivery officer
  • Railway engineering design technician
  • Refrigeration air conditioning and heat pump engineering technician
  • Science industry maintenance technician
  • Science manufacturing technician
  • Senior financial services customer adviser
  • Surveying technician
  • Utilities engineering technician
  • Water process technician
  • Workplace pensions administrator/consultant

Higher (level 4, 5, 6 or 7)

Higher or (level 4, 5, 6 or 7) apprenticeships are designed to offer degree-equivalent qualifications and experience while doing the job. They typically take between 12 and 60 months to complete, with a significant proportion of that time spent with a training provider, college or university, to develop knowledge and skills.

Employers offering higher apprenticeships will usually expect some form of previous experience or subject knowledge.

The entry requirements are tough, with five GCSEs at grade C or above and level 3 qualifications such as A-levels tending to be prerequisites to entry. As ever, equivalent experience is acceptable, and higher apprenticeships tend to be the level at which those already in work or leaving higher education such as university will apply, so expect competition to be that much more intense.

Some of the higher apprenticeships on offer, across sectors such as digital, business, administration, construction, creative, engineering, manufacturing, transport, logistics, hospitality, public services, healthcare and science, include:

(Level 4)

  • Actuarial technician
  • Aircraft maintenance certifying engineer
  • Assistant technical director (visual effects)
  • Associate ambulance practitioner
  • Associate project manager
  • Aviation operations manager
  • Commercial procurement and supply
  • Conveyancing technician
  • Cyber intrusion analyst
  • Cyber security technologist
  • Data analyst
  • Dental practice manager
  • Electrical power protection and plant commissioning engineer
  • Financial adviser
  • Healthcare science associate
  • Insurance professional
  • Investment operations specialist
  • Junior 2D artist (visual effects)
  • Junior management consultant
  • Network engineer
  • Nuclear welding inspection technician
  • Paraplanner
  • Professional accounting taxation technician
  • Rail engineering advanced technician
  • Retail manager
  • Road transport engineering manager
  • Senior housing/property management
  • Software developer
  • Software tester
  • Unified communications troubleshooter

(Level 5)

  • Advanced dairy technologist
  • Bespoke tailor and cutter
  • Children, young people and families manager
  • Dental technician
  • Healthcare assistant practitioner
  • HR consultant/partner
  • Laboratory scientist
  • Learning and development consultant/business partner
  • Marine pilot
  • Nuclear technician
  • Nursing associate
  • Rehabilitation worker (visual impairment)
  • Senior metrology technician
  • Technician scientist

(Level 6)

  • Chartered legal executive
  • Licensed conveyancer
  • Relationship manager (banking)
  • Senior compliance/risk specialist
  • Senior insurance professional
  • Teacher

(Level 7)

  • Academic professional
  • Actuary
  • Internal audit professional
  • Senior investment/commercial banking professional
  • Solicitor
  • Systems engineering

Degree apprenticeships

A degree apprenticeship is similar to a higher apprenticeship, but apprentices will also work toward a bachelor’s degree at level 6 or a master’s degree at level 7.

Degree apprenticeships are a popular alternative to the traditional route of obtaining a degree directly from a university, because the employer will cover the cost. Going to university to study a three-year bachelor’s degree as an individual student, for example, will set you back thousands of pounds. Degree apprenticeships are entirely funded by the employer. As an apprentice, you’ll also be paid a salary while you study, and be entitled to holiday.

Where degree apprenticeships and traditional degrees differ is the method of learning. Work placements will often come in the final year of a degree, with studying on campus taking up the majority of your time.

On a degree apprenticeship, you’ll mix learning with working, so you’ll split your time between a training provider, increasingly one of England’s many universities, and an employer, meaning you’ll be able to put your knowledge and skills into immediate practice, and take away those burning questions that you want to pose to your teachers.

Degree apprenticeships are still relatively new, but employers, higher education providers such as universities, and professional bodies are waking up to their potential, with dozens now available in England. They range from digital and technology solutions professional, which will prepare you to work in software, business and systems analysis, cyber security, data analysis, or network infrastructure; to senior leader, an apprenticeship that will arm you with the skills and knowledge necessary to take up a C-suite executive position at a top company.

Some of the degree apprenticeships on offer, across sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, digital, construction, business, healthcare and science, include:

(Level 6—bachelor’s degree)

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Aerospace software development engineer
  • Architectural assistant
  • Building services design engineer
  • Business to business sales professional
  • Chartered surveyor
  • Civil engineer
  • Clinical trials specialist
  • Control/technical support engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Digital and technology solutions professional
  • Digital marketer
  • Electrical/electronic technical support engineer
  • Embedded electronic systems design and development engineer
  • Food and drink advanced engineer
  • Food industry technical professional
  • Geospatial mapping and science
  • Laboratory scientist
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Non-destructive testing engineer
  • Nuclear scientist and nuclear engineer
  • Ordnance, munitions and explosives professional
  • Packaging professional
  • Paramedic
  • Podiatrist
  • Police constable
  • Professional economist
  • Project manager
  • Registered nurse
  • Science industry process/plant engineer
  • Senior/head of facilities management

(Level 7—master’s degree)

  • Advanced clinical practitioner
  • Architect
  • Digital and technology solution specialist
  • Postgraduate engineer
  • Power engineer
  • Process automation engineer
  • Rail and rail systems principal engineer
  • Senior leader