Career Options

Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4/5)

Designed for those over 18 or those who have completed advanced and intermediate apprenticeships, this is where we turn up the heat. You essentially become an apprenticeship veteran, working for 30 hours a week, spending time developing everything learned previously while adding a new set of skills.

Higher Apprenticeships

When a higher apprentice walks into the room, everybody stops talking. For a moment or two, there is a breathless silence.

A person claps, then another, and soon enough, the crowd goes absolutely bananas. The entire room is applauding, cheering and stamping their feet. They demand autographs, selfies and a speech.

It’s like when Gryffindor win the House Cup, at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Well, RateMyApprenticeship is here to explain. We have a thing for apprenticeships. You could say, we are the Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry of the apprenticeship market. Experts. Real enthusiasts.

You must have so many questions… Who are these higher apprentices? What is a higher apprenticeship? Where can I find vacancies? Does my cat even know my name?

Read on for all the answers: an enthusiast’s guide to higher apprenticeships.

What is a higher apprenticeship

What is a higher Apprenticeship?

A higher apprenticeship, also called level 4 or 5 apprenticeships, are the level above advanced (level 3) and intermediate (level 2) apprenticeships. Higher apprentices work for a company, receiving on-the-job training while the study towards a qualification on the side.

If you complete a higher apprenticeship, you will be awarded with a level 4 (or above) competence qualification, and a knowledge based qualification – a higher national diploma or foundation degree.

Higher apprenticeships are designed for students who are aged 18 or over. If you’ve just finished your GCSEs, an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship are the schemes to be looking at.

Once you have completed an advanced apprenticeship, you will be eligible to apply for a higher apprenticeship. Likewise, if you finish a higher apprenticeship, it can lead onto a degree apprenticeship or a university degree. There are so many pathways – it’s like the New Forest.

The entry requirements for higher apprenticeships can vary. However, most employers require applicants to have a minimum of two A-levels, or an advanced apprenticeship under their belt.

"There are currently 75 higher and degree apprenticeships available, with more in development, including foundation degrees, HNDs and full honours degrees. These include job roles ranging from legal services to banking and engineering" (Skills Funding Agency, 2016)

Higher apprenticeships are designed to train a candidate for a particular job, or for a specific role within a company. The majority of higher apprenticeships have a permanent job waiting at the end. If the company doesn’t employ you after the apprenticeship, or you decide to move on, you will still be a highly employable candidate.

Employers will fight like walruses over you. If that sounds cool, and you haven’t already, have a look at the vacancies we have for higher apprenticeships. (If you have already looked, look again).

Latest Hot Jobs

Higher apprenticeships vacancies →

How do higher apprenticeships work?

Higher apprenticeships are organised in the same fashion as other types of apprenticeships. You will work full-time for a company, with regular day releases for you to study and attend classes with your training provider. It is combination of work and study.

Each higher apprenticeship will be structured slightly differently. Some companies will send you off to study with the training provider for one day in each week, others could organise a two-week study break intermittently throughout the year.

As a higher apprentice, you will be expected to work for a minimum of thirty hours a week, for a minimum of thirty weeks in a year. The length of your apprenticeship will depend on your employer, but higher apprenticeships can last anywhere between one and four years. The video below explains further how a higher apprenticeship is organised. See if you can count how many clichés are used... not many videos have ‘the sky is the limit’ and ‘the world is your oyster’ in them. It’s impressive.

Thought about your cover letter?

If you’re feeling dangerous, and you’ve decided that you’re going to apply for a higher apprenticeship, you are going to need an apprenticeship cover letter. Writing a cover letter can be tricky so we’ve put together A Guide to Writing an Apprenticeship Cover Letter. In six steps, you’ll have a cover letter that will have employers dancing in the street.

The best higher apprenticeships

Now you know, higher apprenticeships are the best thing that has happened since the invention of the sandwich.

With that in mind, how do you about finding the best higher apprenticeships. How do you find the higher level apprenticeship that best suits your skills and your career aspirations?

"A study by ICM Research reveals that employers in England rate qualified higher apprentices as 25 per cent more employable than those who took an alternative route into work." (National Apprenticeship Service, 2015)

RateMyApprenticeship is a great to place start. We know things about apprenticeships. Lots of things. We also have over five thousand reviews of different apprenticeship schemes, written by the apprentices themselves.

There are reviews of apprenticeships in a variety of industries, with some of the UK’s top employers. The reviews delve into how different programmes were structured, salary information and the opportunities outside of work.

Here is an extract from one of our reviews, a Software Engineering higher apprenticeship at Capgemini...

Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:

I am currently a software engineer for the Welsh Government, my role covers a vast range of technologies, including writing Java for screens, rules and letters. I manage all my own tasks using Jira and will take it upon myself to work through all the tasks I have prioritised. There are daily meetings to update your team on the progress and discuss any problems you've encountered.

Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?

As stated above, there is a vast range of work to do; I've developed my knowledge in Java significantly since joining the project, these skills will be essential throughout my career and I wouldn't have been able to learn this anywhere near as quickly and efficiently. Each day is faced with new challenges to learn from and add to your skill set.

How well organised/structured is your programme?

The structure of the programme has been very good, the training and support provided has been very good. The study time allowance was very helpful when learning new skills. The meetings arranged were professional and structured well.

What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Capgemini?

There is a lot of teamwork involved when working on a project, you must be able to work efficiently and effectively in a team and have good communication skills; the desire to work alone would be a big negative. You must be honest at all times to ensure everyone is understanding of each situation. The experiences I have had from the moment I have started will never be forgotten as they were very enjoyable.

"89% of apprentices are satisfied with their apprenticeship." (Skills Funding Agency, 2016)

If you’re applying for a higher apprenticeship, these reviews can help you find the perfect programme. You could compare the reviews to CompareTheMarket, but without the meerkats.

Imagine the situation: you have applied, and been accepted onto a marine engineering apprenticeship. When you heard that your application was successful, you went absolutely bananas. It’s the most excited you’ve been since you saw a man on the train who looked like Robert Downey Jnr.

But when you arrive on the first morning of your marine engineering higher apprenticeship, you get are greeted with a nasty surprise. The laboratory that you assumed you would be working in is actually a fishmonger. Your main responsibility is to restock the cod.

As you look down at the large tuna, and its cold, lifeless eyes stare back, you’ve realise that you made a terrible mistake.

If you had read reviews of this higher apprenticeship, you might have been able to avoid this disaster. The reviews are an opportunity for you have a look inside apprenticeships in a range of industries. Don’t miss out!

Read our reviews of higher apprenticeships. The link below will magic you there.

Apprenticeship reviews →

Higher Apprenticeship Vacancies

Higher apprenticeships vacancies

When you hear the word apprenticeship, often the first thought that comes to mind is a skinny teenager in overalls, with an oily rag and a clipboard.

Apprenticeships are associated with trades, such as plumbing and construction. They are generally perceived as less prestigious than a university degree. A university degree is also seen as the only pathway to white collar careers, like accounting and architecture.

This could not be further from the truth! Some of the UK’s top employers are hiring higher apprentices, in all manner of industries. Did you know that most MP’s offices hire apprentices? The video below reveals secrets about the higher apprenticeship with the BBC...

Due to the efforts of the National Apprenticeship Service, employers and RateMyApprenticeship, the perceptions of apprenticeships are changing. A recent survey carried out by the NCFE, discovered that 91% of parents no longer believe that Apprenticeships lead to low paid, low skilled jobs.

There has never been a better time to do a higher apprenticeship. Check out the vacancies we have on our jobs board, (click on higher apprenticeship vacancies).

Higher apprenticeship vacancies →

Higher apprenticeship case study

Below is a case study of a higher apprenticeship with McEwan Wallace Chartered Accountants and BPP. Meet Rebecca – she is enchanted with her apprenticeship.

Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Hulse gained three As in her A-levels, including maths, and was accepted into her top five university choices. However, she decided to take the Apprenticeship route to fast-forward her career.

“I’m employed as an apprentice and tax assistant at McEwan Wallace Chartered Accountants, studying towards becoming a Chartered Tax Advisor,” says Rebecca.

By beginning training straight from leaving sixth form, I already have a minimum of a three-year head start over my graduate competitors. In addition to this, the professional services aspect to my Apprenticeship means that I have a multi-dimensional qualification. I not only possess the knowledge of a tax technician, but I am also able to translate this in many different ways to maximise my career potential.

For me, BPP couldn’t be a better provider for my Higher Apprenticeship. I can structure my revision around my own commitments and workload to ensure that everything is completed to the highest standard. My tutors are only ever an email or phone call away to help me with any queries, and my work-based assessor provides continued support and guidance at our frequent meetings.

All in all I feel incredibly lucky to be able to train in such a fantastic environment, and I would recommend Apprenticeships to anyone with the commitment and drive to succeed in a top professional career.”

Rebecca is thrilled, absolutely thrilled with her decision to do a higher apprenticeship. It could be you. You could be a higher apprentice, and take your first steps towards world domination.

Have you written your CV yet?

If you are going to apply for a higher apprenticeship, you are going to need to a CV. Check out our blog: Apprenticeship CV: Your Guide & Template, it has everything you need for writing a CV that is tailored for an apprenticeships application. If you follow the guide, employers will be like paper in your hand, they’ll be under your command.

Higher apprenticeship salary

Higher apprenticeship salary

Did we mention that higher apprentices receive a crazy salary? By crazy, we don’t mean £100 million a year. That would be a bit too crazy. Imagine the situation… you’re about to sneeze, so you pull your handkerchief out of your pocket, and £10,000 falls out. They would think you’re a bank robber. Or an ivory salesman.

Each higher apprenticeship programme will pay a different salary. Your wage will depend on...

  • The company your apprenticeship is with
  • The type of apprenticeship
  • Your age (the table below gives the current rates)
  • Location (higher apprentices in London are paid more due to high living/travel costs)

This table shows the current rates for the National Minimum Wage*. You can visit for the full lowdown on apprenticeship pay and holidays.

Age Current Rate
25 and over £8.21
21 - 24 £7.70
18 - 20 £6.15
Under 18 £4.35
Apprentice £3.90

The salaries for the higher level apprenticeship vacancies on RateMyApprenticeship start around £18,000, and can rise to £28-29,000 on completion.

Salary information is usually listed in the job vacancy. So have a peek at the information provided on the vacancy page to see how much different companies pay their higher apprentices.

You can also use the reviews on RateMyApprenticeship to find salary information. If you focus on reviews of a similar course to what you are applying for, or reviews of the same company, it should give you an idea of how much mozzarella to expect.

Higher apprenticeships in London

There is frightening number of opportunities to do a higher apprenticeship in London. The capital is a one of the world’s chief centres for business. Some of the world’s largest international companies have offices in old London town.

Click here to see our vacancies for higher apprenticeships in London.

Higher apprenticeships in the UK

While there is a concentration of higher apprenticeships in London, there are opportunities across the UK. Wherever you live, you’re probably only a spear throw away from a higher level apprenticeship.

You can use RateMyApprenticeship to search for jobs in specific locations. If you filter your search, you can target a region or industry, to see what higher apprenticeship vacancies are close by. Follow the link below and start filtering some searches.

Higher apprenticeships UK →

Why should I do a higher apprenticeship?

Why should you do a higher apprenticeship? Well, if the previous 2225 words hadn’t convinced you, here are TEN reasons why YOU should apply for a higher apprenticeship, (using RateMyApprenticeship).

  1. If you complete a higher apprenticeship, you will gain marvellous qualifications! Higher apprentices are revered like the American mountain lion.

  2. A higher apprenticeship is an opportunity work alongside experienced professionals.

  3. Higher apprentices earn while they learn. They can earn a smashing salary, without the burdens of loans, fees and student debt.

  4. You will be trained for a specific role within a profession. Higher apprentices are highly employable, with all the skills and knowledge required to start a job immediately.

  5. A higher apprenticeship will impart practical work skills. No matter which path you take after your apprenticeship, you will have those skills forever.

  6. Higher apprenticeships are a charming combination of work and study. You will receive on-the-job training, as well as relevant qualifications.

  7. Once you have finished your higher apprenticeship, you will be eligible for a university degree, or a degree apprenticeship. If you’re thought higher apprenticeships were snazzy, give our degree apprenticeships page a read. (It’s also snazzy).

  8. Higher apprenticeships are available in surprising array of industries. There are apprenticeships for 1, 500 different job roles, covering more than 170 industries.

  9. Most higher apprentices stay with their employer after the programme ends. 71% of apprentices stay with the same employer post-apprenticeship.

  10. A higher apprenticeship is strong first step onto the career ladder. You will have the practical work skills, specialist knowledge and the qualifications that will have employers sending you baskets of mini-muffins.

Brilliantly simple, simply brilliant. Higher apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for you to start a career. Be brave, and apply.

View jobs →

For more advice on higher apprenticeships and job opportunities sent straight to your inbox, sign up with RateMyApprenticeship.

Register now →

Recruiting? See how we can help you