Level 4/5 Apprenticeships (Higher)

Impress colleagues with your technical and artistic prowess. Shine bright like a diamond with a higher apprenticeship.

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.

So - have you completed an advanced or intermediate apprenticeship? Searching for the next step after your A-Levels? Are you looking to start your dream career? Or unsure whether university is the right path for you?

We understand it can be quite a minefield trying to get your head around all the different options available, so we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide to help you decide if level 4 apprenticeships are the right step for you.

Apply for Level 4/5 Apprenticeships (Higher)

What is a higher apprenticeship?

Higher apprenticeships (AKA level 4 or 5 apprenticeships) are designed for 18-year-olds looking to gain on-the-job training, nationally-recognised qualifications and a head start in their career.

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. But whilst apprenticeships used to be associated with trades like plumbing and construction, these days that could not be further from the truth.

Many of the UK’s best companies are hiring higher apprentices, in all sorts of industries. Did you know, for example, that most MP’s offices take on apprentices? That’s because apprenticeships are hot. Heatwave hot.

Higher apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, including:

  • Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care

  • Arts, Media and Publishing

  • Business, Administration and Law

  • Construction, Property and Surveying

  • Education and Childcare

  • Engineering and Manufacturing

  • Hair and Beauty

  • Health, Public Services and Care

  • Information and Communication Technology

  • Leisure, Travel and Tourism

What qualifications do I need to apply?

The entry requirements for level 4/5 apprenticeships vary from scheme to scheme, but are generally:

  • You must have completed an advanced apprenticeship

  • Have passed a BTEC

  • Have a level 3 NVQ/SVQ qualification

  • Have two passes at A-Level (C or above) - and sometimes in specific subjects

Be mindful that some companies will also ask for five or more GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C).

What is a level 4 apprenticeship equivalent to?

Level 4 apprenticeships are equivalent to a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or the first year of an undergraduate degree you'd typically undertake at a university. Level 5 apprenticeships, on the other hand, are equivalent to a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a foundation degree.

"Higher apprentices could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime compared to those with level 3 vocational qualifications."(National Apprenticeship Evaluation Survey)

How long is a level 4 apprenticeship?

As a level 4 apprentice, you’ll be expected to work for a minimum of thirty hours a week, thirty weeks per year. The length of your apprenticeship will depend on your employer, but higher apprenticeships can last anywhere between 1-4 years.

For example, a higher business apprenticeship at GE Aviation will take you four years to complete, while the laboratory science (chemistry) apprenticeship at GSK will last approximately three years.

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Considering an apprenticeship but not sure which one’s right for you? Watch this video:

Is a higher apprenticeship worth it?

Absolutely! There are infinite reasons to choose a higher apprenticeship when you leave school or college. Here’s just THREE of them...

1. Earn while you learn

As a higher apprentice, you’ll get paid a full-time wage. This means you won’t have to take out student loans or work an additional part-time job to support yourself during your studies.

Your income depends on a variety of factors such as your age, your employer, your location and apprenticeship level.

For instance, if you’re living in London, you’ll be paid more due to the high cost of living in the capital. At the very least, you’ll be paid in line with the National Minimum Wage.

While the majority of employers will pay their apprentices more, upon completion of a higher apprenticeship, you can expect to earn a graduate’s salary of up to £30,000 per year.

2. Become highly employable

After finishing your programme, your options will be limitless. As higher apprentices are trained for a specific role within a profession, they’re highly employable and have all the skills and knowledge required to start a job immediately.

3. Give yourself options

Should you choose to continue your studies, you can always apply for a degree apprenticeship. Or attend university full-time. Whichever takes your fancy.

How do level 4 apprenticeships work?

Higher apprenticeships are organised in the same way as other apprenticeships. You’ll work full-time for a company, with regular day releases so you can study and attend classes with your training provider. It’s a combination of work and study.

Apprenticeships are a brilliant opportunity for you to get stuck into the inner workings of a business and meet like-minded apprentices and professionals. Not only will you make new friends, you’ll also get the chance to make a real difference in your chosen industry.

Read level 4/5 apprenticeship reviews →

Higher apprenticeships in London

As the international hub for business, London is home to some of the world’s most renowned corporations and, as such, has plenty of higher apprenticeships to offer.

Whether you’d like to work for Lloyds Banking Group or Transport for London, the options in this city are endless.

Living in London will expose you to a completely new way of life. It’ll enhance your cultural horizons, enrich your taste buds through its cosmopolitan cuisine, and entertain you with its string of award-winning West-End shows.

Search for higher apprenticeships in London →

How to apply for a level 4/5 apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have become even more popular since Covid-19, with 75% of young people now considering doing one to future-proof their career. Do your best to prepare and you’ve got as good a chance as anyone else.

RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk is a great place to start. We have over 40,000 reviews of different apprenticeship schemes, written by apprentices themselves.

So if you want to maximise your chances of success and bag yourself that dream role, follow our top application tips in these blogs:

So... what are you waiting for?

Apply for an apprenticeship now →

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