9 April 2024

Which Apprenticeship Levels are Right For Me?

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If you’ve decided an apprenticeship is for you, well done! That’s step one officially complete.

Next, you need to decide which level works for you. With so many different apprenticeship levels available, how exactly do you choose the right one?

We’ve put together this guide to help you get your head around the different levels of apprenticeships you can apply for. You never know; you might just discover the perfect one for you…

Apprenticeship Levels Explained

There are six apprenticeship levels, ranging from 2 to 7. Think of every level as a step up from the last, like some sort of career ladder.

Most apprentices fresh out of school and college might start at Levels 2 or 3, but if you’re slightly older with A Levels and some experience under your belt, there are other levels for you to explore too. Let’s get into what these are.

Usually the first stop, a Level 2 apprenticeship is designed for those who are above 16 and aren’t in full-time education. During your apprenticeship, you’ll learn the fundamentals of your chosen industry and get to grips with your role in a full-time job. It’s also very possible to do these without GCSEs (you’ll see why next!)

You’ll work towards a qualification which is equal to five GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (or A* – C). The type of qualification you work towards totally depends on the training provider but will usually be an NVQ Level 2 or a BTEC Diploma.

Once you’re done, you can either move on to Level 3 or straight into full-time work.

Duration: 12 to 18 months

Average Salary: £18,832.

“I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship, it has provided me with many new skills, helped me develop both personally and professionally, and moving into my assessments has been a massive boost in confidence as I have been able to be myself and express myself in ways that I didn’t know I was able to!”

Shift Manager, McDonald’s

Everything you learned in an intermediate apprenticeship is ramped up times three. If you’ve already gained five GCSEs, you can jump straight to an advanced apprenticeship.

An intermediate apprenticeship is equal to two A Levels and will prepare you for a higher apprenticeship (Level 4/5) or straight into a full-time job.

Want to know what it’s like to be an apprentice on an advanced level? Watch this:

Duration: 12 months to two years

Average Salary: £20,676.

Higher apprenticeships are designed for 18-year-olds who’ve completed an advanced apprenticeship, have A Levels or similar.

Think of a higher apprenticeship as the younger sibling to the degree apprenticeship. A Level 4 qualification is equivalent to a Higher National Diploma, and a Level 5 qualification is equivalent to a foundation degree.

Duration: one to four years

Average Salary: £24,636.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my programme. It has given me the opportunity to learn on the job and showcase my learning practically through real work requests for stakeholders. The training from Firebrand has also been effective in growing my knowledge as well as my confidence.”

Data Analyst, Lloyds Banking Group

The big boss of apprenticeships. Degree apprenticeships are just that, a degree.

These are perfect if you’ve done your A Levels and are looking to triple armour your career shield with a degree.

A Level 6 apprenticeship is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, and a Level 7 is a Master’s Degree.

You’ll get all the perks of a university degree with a few years of work experience, which will make you every employer’s dream. The best about it? Your degree is free. No £50,000+ debt for you. 

Duration: Three to six years

Average Salary: £23,655

Watch Eesa’s day in the life of a software engineer degree apprentice.

So, which apprenticeship level should you go for?

That totally depends on where you’re at in your journey. Let’s break it down a little.

If you’re 16 and a school leaver, consider either a Level 2 or 3 apprenticeship.

If you’re 18, a Level 4/5 or Level 6/7 apprenticeship will be your best friend (depending on the qualifications you already have).

Why not take it one step further? We’ve put together a quiz to make it a little easier when deciding which career path to take.