The 4 Types of Apprenticeships

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There are now apprenticeships on offer in more industries than you could possibly dream of. If you pop your head into a school corridor, you will see your peers high-fiving and dancing around triumphantly; never before have school and college leavers had so many different options available to them after they finish school.

However, the quantity and variety of schemes creates a small problem. A problem most school leavers will encounter.

‘How do I decide which level, and which type of apprenticeship to apply for?’

Choosing your ‘next step’ after school or college can be a delicate and difficult decision.

So if you’re considering applying for an apprenticeship, keep reading for a simple and helpful guide to the different levels and types of apprenticeships which you can apply for today.

We will begin with an overview of the different levels of apprenticeship, to clarify which schemes suit your age and education. Thereafter, we will move onto the different types of apprenticeships, in terms of industry, and the careers which they lead to.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Modern apprenticeships are school leaver schemes which have been designed for 16-18 year olds. They are different to traditional apprenticeships, which were associated with trade industries like plumbing and carpentry. The modern apprenticeship covers a wide-range of industries, including accounting, banking, law and IT. Apprenticeships combine full-time work in an industry, with studying for nationally certified qualifications. Apprentices benefit from on-the-job training, and the academic training which is needed to gain the relevant qualifications. These schemes offer a pathway for school leavers towards higher education, or a means of fast-tracking a career. All apprentices are also paid a salary for the duration of their scheme.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth overview of how apprenticeships work, and how you can apply for a scheme, check out our Guide to Apprenticeships

Levels of Apprenticeships

Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeships

The intermediate apprenticeship is the first level of the modern apprenticeship. These schemes are aimed at 16 year olds, and can last anywhere between 12-18 months.  

Entry Requirements

For level two apprenticeships, employers look for applicants with two or more GCSEs (A*-C). There are some employers who accept applicants without the sufficient grades, if they have relevant work experience, or have shown a passion for the scheme. Furthermore, traineeships have been developed as an alternative route into level two apprenticeships. Traineeships are designed for students who have left school without the skills or qualifications they need to apply for an apprenticeship. These schemes focus on improving a student’s numeracy and literacy skills, and can last up to six months.  

What Qualifications Will I Receive?

Intermediate apprentices work towards…
  • a Level 2 Competence Qualification
  • a knowledge based qualification (such as a National Vocational Qualification or a BTEC)
(These qualifications equate to 5 GCSE passes, and will make you eligible for an advanced apprenticeship!)

Advanced (Level 3) Apprenticeships

Advanced apprenticeships, also called level 3 apprenticeships, are the next level of apprenticeship available to school and college leavers. Advanced level apprenticeships last between 12-18 months, in which the apprentice receives on-the-job training from an employer, and works for widely-respected qualifications on the side.  

Entry Requirements

Employers look for applicants with 5 GCSEs (A*-C), or an intermediate apprenticeship in a relevant field.  

What Qualifications Will I Receive?

On top of 12-18 months of cracking work experience, and a salary, advanced apprentices receive…
  • a Level 3 Competence Qualification
  • and a knowledge based qualification
These qualifications are equivalent to 2 A levels, and will qualify you for a higher apprenticeship!

Types of Apprenticeships

Higher (Level 4/5) Apprenticeships

Higher apprenticeships, also referred to as level 4 or level 5 apprenticeships, are designed for school leavers aged 18 or above. These programmes focus on imparting management-based skills, as well as the practical skills which are required to work in a particular field. These types of apprenticeships can last anywhere between three to four years. The academic modules are usually spent in a further or higher education institution; the rest of a higher apprentice’s time is spent working for a company.  

Entry Requirements

All applicants for higher apprenticeships must 18 years old or older. Employers look for candidates with two or more A levels, or an advanced level apprenticeship.   What Qualifications Will I Receive?  If you complete a higher apprenticeship, you will be awarded with…
  • Level 4 Competence Qualification
  • knowledge based certificate – such as a higher national diploma, a foundation degree or undergraduate degree.

Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6/7)

Degree apprenticeships are the newest type of apprenticeship, introduced in March 2015. These programmes have been created through a collaboration between universities and the Tech Partnership. Degree apprenticeships are similar in structure to lower level apprenticeships. An apprentice will work on a full-time basis for a company, and study part-time at university on the side. At the end of the apprenticeship, they will be awarded with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These schemes can last anywhere between three to five years, and apprentices are paid a salary for the duration. Degree apprenticeships are also tuition-free!   “Degree Apprenticeships will give people a great head start, combining a full degree with the real practical skills gained in work and the financial security of a regular pay packet. They will bring the world of business and the world of education closer together, and let us build the high-level technical skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

David Cameron, Government rolls-out flagship Degree Apprenticeships

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for degree apprenticeships are dependent on the employer and university that organises the programme. There are schemes which look for applicants with two or more relevant A levels (A*-B), or a set amount of UCAS points. It’s wise to check employers’ websites for the specific grades or UCAS points you need to qualify for these types of apprenticeships. Employers are also accepting applicants with advanced or higher level apprenticeships.   What Qualifications Will I Receive? Degree apprentices are awarded with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.


Check out our detailed guides to the different apprenticeship levels… Intermediate Apprenticeships Advanced Apprenticeships Higher Apprenticeships  Degree Apprenticeships

Types of Apprenticeships

The are a wide-range of different types of apprenticeships on offer. If you sit in class, and dream about a career in finance, business, or IT, an apprenticeship is a means of fast-tracking into an entry-level role in one of those industries.
“With over 1500 job roles in over 170 industries, there is an apprenticeship for everyone” Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Apprenticeships in Spotlight at Skills Show
Below is a short overview of some of the apprenticeships which are available in different industries…  

Business Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships in business administration and business management are available at intermediate, advanced and higher level. These schemes are designed to train an apprentice to play an important support role within a business. Intermediate apprenticeships in this field prepare school leaver’s for a role as a receptionist, secretary or a similar junior position. An advanced apprenticeship leans more towards a role as a personal assistant or team leader. Higher level schemes train apprentices for a position like a marketing executive, or a business development executive. These types of apprenticeships will cover topics such as project management, strategic management, strategic marketing, contract law and principles of business. If you are not offered a permanent position at the end of a business apprenticeship, you will still have the qualifications, the skills and the knowledge for an array of jobs in the business industry. View business apprenticeships →

In this short video, business administration apprentices share their experiences of working for Unilever.

IT Apprenticeships

An IT apprenticeship can fast-track a school or college leaver to a job role such as a website or network technician, a data administrator, digital assistant or an IT clerk. These schemes combine off and on-the-job training, to ensure an apprentice has the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the IT industry. A digital and technology solutions degree apprenticeship leads to a Bachelor’s degree in IT Management and Business. Degree apprenticeships in the IT industry are offered by some of the UK’s top employers, such as GSK, BT, Network Rail and Fujitsu. These types of apprenticeships could focus on any of the following areas of study:
  • Maintaining online systems
  • Testing new application
  • Writing new software and code
  • Presenting ideas for system improvements
  • Delivering training for new users and clients
  • Developing user requirements
View IT apprenticeships →

Finance Apprenticeships

There is an array of finance related apprenticeships available at intermediate, advanced, higher, and even degree level. Whether it’s investment or insurance, accounting or taxation, there are apprenticeships on offer to help take your first steps towards a career in finance. These types of apprenticeships are designed by the UK’s leading financial institutions. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy have developed new apprenticeship frameworks. These frameworks have been developed to increase the opportunities for employers to train school leavers in technical and professional roles within financial services. If you were to do one of these types of apprenticeships, you would have the valuable opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals from the finance industry. They would act as mentors, supporting you through the apprenticeship, to ensure you finish the scheme ready to enter the world of finance. Below is a list of some of the roles you might be asked to perform during a finance apprenticeship…
  • Contacting customers across various channels to deepen relationships
  • Promoting new digital services to encourage new and existing clients to use these channels
  • Resolving customer queries and complaints
  • Dealing with customers, and matching them with suitable products and services (e.g. loans, credit cards, type of bank account)
Check out our Industry Guides for more advice on different types of apprenticeships.
There is an incredible range of different types of apprenticeships on offer. Start an application today, there are deadlines fast approaching! Visit our jobs page… View jobs → For more advice, reviews and apprenticeship vacancies delivered directly to your inbox, sign up with RateMyApprenticeship. It’s free! Register here →