Banking: Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeships, Degree Apprenticeships and School Leaver Programmes

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Did you know, a man once robbed two banks with his face painted in lemon juice? He knew lemon juice made invisible ink, and thought it would render his face invisible on camera. It’s a true story.

Perhaps you also didn’t know, some of the UK’s foremost banks offer apprenticeships. Young people have a pathway into a career in banking straight after they leave school. Barclays, RBS and J.P. Morgan (to name but a few) are all offering opportunities to school leavers.

And that could be you. Skip university and start a career 16 or 18.

So read on to find out how apprenticeships in banking work, what schemes are available, how much you can get paid and why more and more of your peers are choosing the apprenticeship path.

What are Banking Apprenticeships?

Banking apprenticeships are a wonderful opportunity for young people between the ages of 16-24 to get into the banking industry. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with academic training to prepare a candidate for a specific role within a company, or in the wider industry.

A banking apprenticeship is a real job. An apprentice is employed to do real work, and acquire skills, qualifications and a wage for the duration of their scheme.

University is no longer the only route into the banking sector. In fact, some higher level and degree apprentices are funded to work towards a degree while they work for a company.

So if you’re sitting at home eating Hula Hoops, watching niche European detective dramas (but nonetheless dreaming about a career in banking), consider doing an apprenticeship. Really consider it.

In a hurry? Skip ahead to:


Types of Banking Apprenticeships

Here is a list of all the banking apprenticeships that are currently available in the UK. There are 15 different apprenticeships in total, and have been divided by tier.

Keep reading for overviews of each tier, which includes the entry requirements, the qualifications you could gain and how to choose the correct level scheme.

Level 2 (Intermediate)

  • Credit Controller/Collector
  • Financial Services Customer Adviser
  • Investment Operations Administrator

Level 3 (Advanced)

  • Advanced Credit Controller
  • Compliance/Risk Officer
  • Financial Services Administrator
  • Investment Operations Technician
  • Mortgage Adviser
  • Senior Financial Services Customer Adviser

Level 4/5 (Higher)

  • Actuarial Technician
  • Financial Adviser
  • Investment Operations Specialist

Level 6/7 (Degree Level)

  • Financial Services Professional
  • Banking Relationship Manager
  • Senior Compliance/Risk Specialist
the bank of england

There are also some banking apprenticeships that, like Toy Story 4, are still in development...

  • Payroll Administrator (Level 3) - Employers involved in creating this apprenticeship include Card Factory, Hotel Chocolat, University of Westminster & Harrods.
  • Professional Economist (Level 6)
  • Actuary (Level 7) - Employers involved in creating this apprenticeship include Aon Hewitt, Grant Thornton, KPMG & PwC.
  • Senior Investment/Commercial Banking Professional (Level 7) - Employers involved in creating this apprenticeship include Barclays, Santander, J.P. Morgan & RBS.

How do apprenticeships in banking work?

Banking apprentices work for a bank (unsurprisingly) or a company in the banking sector on a full-time basis, and study towards professional qualifications on the side.

The structure of apprenticeships vary and depend on the bank that the apprentice is working for. All banking apprentices, however, spend the majority of their time at work, in the office, doing real work while they receive on-the-job training. When they are not at work, the apprentice will be studying at college or an external training facility. Some of the big banks (the real bigguns, the humpback whale-sized organisations) even have teaching facilities on-site.

The division of work and study periods will be arranged around block or single day releases. For example, (imagine you’re a banking apprentice for, say, Lloyds Banking Group), you might spend Monday to Thursday at work, and have Friday off to attend college. One day of every week will be dedicated to studying or attending classes.

On the other hand, you might spend a number of consecutive weeks at work, and have regular week-long block releases to attend college and study for exams. It all really depends on the company you are working for. Whilst the structure of banking apprenticeships varies from scheme to scheme, the ratio of work:study is generally the same. An apprentice will spend 80% of their time at work, and the other 20% studying towards qualifications.

Banking apprentices are paid for both work and study periods too. It’s a fairytale.


Careers in banking: What are the benefits?

Working Abroad

The banking industry operates all over the world. Literally everywhere. HSBC has branches in over 70 countries. There are even banks on the Moon. A career in banking will offer you countless opportunities to live and work abroad. It is a global industry, with junior and senior positions available across the continents if you have aspirations to travel.

Salary and Benefits

The banking sector offers among the highest salaries for apprentices and graduates. Over 500 reviews of banking apprenticeships were submitted on RateMyApprenticeship last year, and the average salary from the reviewed schemes was a mind-altering £18,937! Banks also offer a wide range of other benefits, including health insurance, gym membership, subsidised travel, company shares and bonuses. Think of Abba’s song Money, Money, Money. Scroll down to find out more about the salary available.

Fast-paced, Challenging Career

A career in banking is - as the subheading suggests - a fast-paced and challenging career. Picture the adrenaline of making high-value deals and screaming ‘SELL, SELL, SELL’ on the trading floor. It may not all be as dramatic as screaming strange things down the phone, but the banking sector is highly competitive; the challenges faced by apprentices, graduates and senior professionals on a day to day basis makes it a highly-stimulating occupation.

Long-term Career Prospects

A career in banking offers young people long-term career prospects. Having a well-known bank or financial institution on your CV is catnip to employers. If you decide to change job or move to another company in your later career, employers will fight over you like a band of starving cats. The application process for banking jobs is rigorous and competitive, so even if you decide to pursue a career in a completely different industry, your experience will be beheld with high regard.

banking career benefits

Banking apprenticeships salary

Banking apprentices are a paid a salary for the duration of their scheme. You’ll also get at least 20 days of paid holidays per year, not including bank holidays!

The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.50 an hour, and this applies to anyone under the age of 19, or those in the first year of a banking apprenticeship. Below is a handsome table with the full rates of National Minimum Wage in the UK.

Age Current Rate
25 and over £7.50
21 - 24 £7.05
18 - 20 £5.60
Under 18 £4.05
Apprentice £3.50


Over 600 reviews of banking apprenticeships were submitted on RateMyApprenticeship last year. Each review is written by a former or current apprentice, and provide frightfully useful insight into what it is like to work for some of the UK’s biggest banks, including Barclays, RBS and Lloyds Banking Group.

The reviews also reveal how much each apprentice was paid. From said reviews, the average salary for an apprenticeship in banking last year was a mammoth £18,937. £18,937! Imagine what you could do with that sort of loot...

Be sure to read some of the reviews of banking apprenticeships, they’re a real treat. The button below will take you there.

Banking Apprenticeship Reviews →


Intermediate Apprenticeships in Banking (Level 2)

Intermediate apprenticeships are the first rung on the banking apprenticeship ladder. They are entry-level schemes, designed for 16-24 year olds with basic qualifications and work experience. Think of it as a foundation level course, an introduction to the industry and a great first step into a career in banking.

An intermediate apprenticeship will last between 12-18 months, depending on the employer, and includes a salary and professional work placement. In case you were wondering, the average salary of a level 2 apprentice in banking was £16,825 in 2016/2017.

Entry Requirements

There are a number of different pathways into an intermediate apprenticeship in banking. Most employers primarily look for two or more GCSEs, including passes in English and Maths. Some employers, however, accept candidates without qualifications in these core subjects if they have relevant work experience. In this case, the candidate might be asked to complete a basic literacy and numeracy test.

"But I have zero qualifications and nada experience!"

This isn’t a problem either. A traineeship will qualify you for a level 2 apprenticeship if, like the poor fellow above, you have zero qualifications and no experience. Traineeships are short, flexible education programmes for young people who, for whatever reason, finished school without the skills or qualifications required to get a job or apprenticeship.

They focus on three main elements: work preparation training, a work placement, and Maths and English tutelage. The three amigos. A traineeship can even include help with writing a CV and cover letter and interview preparation.

Barclays Case Study: Meet Nat

Meet Nat. Nat (which rhymes with cat and hat) was an intermediate apprentice, or as they call them at Barclays, a foundation apprentice.

"I completed my Foundation Apprenticeship first of all, but I knew I didn’t want to stop upskilling myself. I saw how much I’d grown as a person on the Foundation programme, and how the Higher Apprenticeship would help me grow into the woman I knew I could be.
"I’m now studying for a BA (Hons) in Business Management and Leadership, and I’ve got a brilliant support network around me. Barclays helped me transition from Foundation to Higher."
Barclays, Apprenticeships, Nat’s Story


What qualifications will you gain?

Intermediate apprentices in banking work towards...

  • Level 2 Competence Qualification
  • Knowledge-based qualification

These qualifications are equivalent to 5 GCSE passes, and qualify you for an advanced apprenticeship in banking. An intermediate apprenticeship is a great preparation for higher level schemes, and, as Nat’s story demonstrates, a first step along the pathway to a successful career in the banking sector.

Check out our extended Guide to Intermediate Apprenticeships if you’re considering applying for an entry-level position in the banking industry.

The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) have revealed that there was an average of 20 applications per vacancy for banking and finance apprenticeships in 2017/18. Use our CV template and read our cover letter advice to ensure your application bedazzles employers. ISE Annual Report, 2017

Advanced Apprenticeships in Banking (Level 3)

Advanced apprenticeships in banking are also called level 3 apprenticeships, and the qualifications on offer are equivalent to two A levels. These schemes are designed for career-conscious young people who want to start a career immediately after leaving school and college.

You can apply for an advanced apprenticeship in banking after your GCSEs. They are typically 18-24 months in length, which will provide you with significant insight into the workings of a particular company, and significant professional work experience.

"So what do advanced banking apprentices actually get up to on a day to day basis?"

That’s a fantastic question, Melanie. Below is an extract from the apprenticeship standard for a Level 3 Financial Services Administrator:

What apprentices will learn

  • Structure of the financial services market
  • Financial services regulatory framework
  • System and process required to perform as a financial service administrator
  • Ethics and key principles of sound financial advice
  • Purpose and content of financial services products

Typical activities that may be carried out

  • Providing general office administrative support. This may include filing/scanning/photocopying, processing premium payments, answering the telephone etc.
  • Maintain customer policy records through the customer management system and associated IT solutions
  • Communicate all information necessary to ensure customers are fully aware that their needs have been met and contract certainty achieved
  • Manage instalment and credit provisions for customers
  • Ensuring that formal complaints and potential formal complaints are referred immediately to the appropriate person
  • Ensuring that all compliance procedures are adhered to on a day to day basis. Ensure customer files are complete in accordance with procedures.
  • Manage new and existing claims and complete any claims analysis
You can click here to read the full standard, and visit the Institute For Apprenticeships to read the entire collection of apprenticeship standards for banking. Read them all, just for the merriment of it.


Entry Requirements

Employers set individual criteria for their apprenticeship schemes, so the entry requirements can vary. That being said, the general requirements for level 3 schemes are as follows...

  • 5 GCSEs (including passes in English and Maths)
  • Or a completed intermediate apprenticeship

It’s also a good idea to check the specific information in job vacancies employer’s websites to see if you qualify for a role.

What qualifications will you gain?

  • Level 3 Competence qualifications
  • Knowledge based qualification

The qualifications listed above may seem a bit vague (don’t send us an angry email), however, there is a crazy-range of professional qualifications that banking apprentices can complete during their programme.

The competence and knowledge-based qualifications that advanced apprentices work towards can be in any area of banking - investments, financial administration, mortgages, customer service… (there are more).

For a more in-depth overview of how advanced apprenticeships work and why you simply have to apply, read our Guide to Advanced Apprenticeships.


advanced banking apprenticeships

Higher apprenticeships in banking (Level 4/5)

Higher apprenticeships in banking are designed for 18 year olds, and are a natural next-step for aspiring bankers after A levels or a lower-tier apprenticeship. These schemes can last between 3-4 years, at the end of which, the apprentice will be in a brilliant position - years of work experience, professional qualification and no gargantuan student debt to worry about.

Entry Requirements

As mentioned (at least three times previously), the entry requirements for higher apprenticeships in banking vary. However, a requirement for all level 4/5 schemes is that candidates must be aged 18 or above.

The minimum entry requirements for banking apprenticeships are:

  • 2 A levels (in relevant subjects)
  • Or a completed advanced apprenticeship
Watch this short video. Really, watch it. Xavier (a good-natured chap with fine taste in ties) is a Lloyds Banking Group Apprentice, and explains why he chose the apprenticeship path.

You can read his case study here.


What qualifications will you gain?

  • Level 4 Competence qualification
  • Knowledge-based qualification - this could include a finance-based Higher National Diploma (HND), a foundation degree or a full undergraduate degree

Higher apprentices in banking work towards thrilling professional qualifications. The qualifications apprentices work towards vary between each scheme, and depend on the role/occupation that the apprenticeship is designed for.

Just say, for example, you were a higher apprentice in the role of a financial adviser; you would work towards qualifications with the following professional bodies:

  • Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment: Investment Advice Diploma (ACSI)
  • Chartered Insurance Institute: Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning (DipPFS)
  • The London Institute of Banking Finance: Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA)

Employers go absolutely crackers for candidates with accreditations like these. The aces that complete higher apprenticeships in this area can work in roles such as a Financial Services Administrator, Mortgage Adviser or Paraplanner.

For more advice on applying for a level 4/5 apprenticeship, read our Guide to Higher Apprenticeships.

Banking Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6/7)

If somebody told you it was possible to get a tuition-free banking degree, to earn a cracking salary and get three years of industry experience (all at the same time), you’d probably say something like: "Alan, you’ve gone completely mad. Alan, stop fibbing."

The thing is, Alan hasn’t gone completely mad. Alan is not fibbing. A degree apprenticeship is an extraordinary opportunity for you to get a full bachelors degree, and follow the same career track as a graduate without having to pay tuition fees.

Banks and other financial institutions have partnered with universities to offer school and college leavers an alternative to the traditional university degree. Banking degree apprentices work for a company and study towards a degree simultaneously. It’s a full-time job, but there is a degree waiting at the end, not monstrous student debts.

The banking degree apprenticeship currently available is in financial services, and focuses on the role of a banking relationship manager. There are opportunities to specialise in the following areas:

  • Commercial/Business Banking
  • Investment Banking
  • Investment Management
  • Operations
  • Pensions
  • Retail Banking
  • Workplace Pensions

This (rather fantastic) degree apprenticeship in banking is 4 years in length, and has been designed to prepare a school or college leaver for a management position. If you were to apply, (you would be a clown not to), you will develop the following skills:

Customer Understanding - Gain a wide understanding of the sector in which their customers and their businesses operate; along with excellent customer services practices.

Delivering Commercial Results - Support, develop and deliver an account plan that meets a) customer needs and b) internal goals; applying financial analysis techniques to the relevant area of the bank.

Developing Customer Relationships - Build ‘trusted adviser’ relationships with customers (that are ethically sound) to form long-term partnerships.

Ethical Standards - Have a full understanding of the ethical standards that the organisation and the industry requires.

Financial Analysis - Understand data/financial analysis and planning and modelling tools.

Identifying and Meeting Customer Needs - Work closely with customers to identify their business challenges, providing innovative and flexible solutions that help them meet their goals.

Managing Governance and Risk - Apply the organisation’s risk and governance frameworks to ensure internal and external activities comply with regulations.

Market Awareness - Gain understanding of local markets, e.g. demographics, economics and competition.

Product Knowledge - Have an in-depth knowledge of the range of financial services products/services available, including pricing.

The information above was obtained from the government’s Financial Services Apprenticeship Standard... Click here for the full story.

Companies Offering Degree Apprenticeships in Banking

Top question. Below is a list of the companies and higher education institutions that offer this marvellous banking degree apprenticeship:

  • Barclays
  • J.P. Morgan
  • BBP
  • The London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF)

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for degree apprenticeships vary as employers may have individual criteria. However, the minimum requirements employers usually look for are:

  • Two or more A levels (in relevant subjects)
  • Or equivalent UCAS points
  • Or an existing level 3 qualification (advanced apprenticeship)
  • Relevant or prior experience may be considered as an alternative
  • GCSEs in English and Maths are usually a prerequisite
  • Candidates must be aged 18 or above
For more exciting commentary on debt-free degrees, read our Guide to Degree Apprenticeships.


london banking apprenticeships


Banking Apprenticeships in London

Are you looking for a banking apprenticeship in London? There are a crazy number of opportunities for young folk who are interested in a career in the banking sector.

London is the world’s financial hub and most international banks have a presence in the capital. Below is a list of the companies that employ banking and finance apprentices in London:

  • RBS
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • M&G Investments
  • Hendersons Global Investors
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Santander
  • Nomura
  • Barclays
  • HSBC

The highest concentration of banking apprenticeships are in the City of London, however, there are opportunities across the UK. Banks are setting up apprenticeship schemes and employing young people in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and in Scotland.

Are there any banks near you? Check to see if they are employing apprentices. If not, find out if they offer any other opportunities for work experience. Any work experience is a great addition to your CV, and will leave you in a marvellous position when you apply for a job in the banking industry in the future.

Banking apprenticeships near me →


Investment banking apprenticeships

Investment banking apprenticeships are a fantastic way to kickstart a career in a challenging and high-rewarding industry. There are currently three schemes available:

  • Investment Operations Administrator (Level 2)
  • Investment Operations Technician (Level 3)
  • Investment Operations Specialist (Level 4)

The level 2 and level 3 apprenticeships are suitable for school leavers after they finish their GCSEs, and the level 4 scheme is a natural next step for a student after their A levels. An apprenticeship is a real and direct pathway for young people at 16 or 18 to get into the investment banking industry. You would be a lunatic not to give it serious thought.


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