IT & Digital Apprenticeships Guide

Don’t fancy spending three more years doing essays, exams and deadlines? Would you rather leap straight into a career in IT or digital marketing?

We are living in the digital age, a time where we struggle to get from A to B without Google Maps. We feel like we’re ‘being social’ because we get 100 likes on an Instagram post. And robots walk among us! Ever heard of the virtual influencer Lil Miquela? If not click here to get clued up!

Did you know?

The average tech salary in the UK is £62,500. For non-tech jobs it is £35,423. Got your attention now? To find out how you can start saving for a Tesla, 209 iPads or 104,166 cans of baked beans keep reading.

Everything you need to know in 1 minute

In a rush? Here is a breakdown of what will be discussed further in this guide.

In this ever-evolving industry, you have a lot of options. Remember that almost all companies need qualified IT professionals in one area or another.

An apprenticeship is a cracking way to ‘earn while you learn’. You don’t have to worry about the mounting debt that comes with university, you can have the best of both worlds. For more information on why you should consider an apprenticeship click here.

Firstly, you need to understand the levels and see which is the correct choice for you. All the different apprenticeships can be quite confusing to wrap your head around. The levels range from 2 to 7 with added responsibility as you progress.

The IT, Computing and Digital Industries

Technology has grown significantly in the last 20 years. We’ve seen the first ever Macintosh, with its measly 9-inch screen, evolve into the magnificent 27-inch iMac. You should also be getting excited for the emerging technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) because robots are going to take over the planet - we’ve called it!

The UK tech sector grows 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy, creating a wide range of roles that didn't even exist just 10 years ago.

The tech industry has exciting times ahead and YOU could be part of it; whether you want to go into cyber security, digital forensics or app development.

IT, digital and computing apprenticeships are a splendid opportunity for you to gain experience and industry-relevant qualifications - all while being paid! Have you ever seen a job description where they don’t ask you for experience? Us neither. That is why apprenticeships can be a great alternative to university.

But how do you get an apprenticeship? Where do you start? Fear not! This guide will give you a clear overview of the different career paths within the IT, digital and computing sectors. Choosing your career is a big deal, and we’re here to make sure you’ve got all the facts.

Did you know?

The Tech Nation Report of 2017 dubbed the UK the “digital capital of Europe”.

Have a look at the apprenticeships in IT and Digital we currently have:

Latest Hot Jobs

Case Study

Ksenia is currently working at one of our top employers Santander as a Digital Apprentice. She’s a prime example of how quickly you can progress in an apprenticeship.

“Since joining the apprenticeship, the area that I have progressed the most in has been my confidence. I used to put limitations on what I could achieve. I no longer have these limitations.”

To see what apprenticeships Santander can offer you click here.

Apprenticeship levels explained

While you are researching different career paths within the IT and digital industry, it is essential that you understand the different levels that available for you. This usually depends on what point you’re at in your career and what qualifications you have earned.

We’ve broken each section down and given you an in-depth overview of each level with an example of a career path. These are your options:

Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2)

This is the first level of the apprenticeship tier (We have no idea what happened to level 1). It is designed for school leavers who want to go straight into work rather than moving on to A-Levels. An intermediate apprenticeship will last between 12-18 months, depending on the employer.

Entry Requirements

Anyone over the age of 16 can complete a level 2 qualification, however most companies prefer you to have at least a basic maths and English GCSE or an equivalent qualification. If you don’t meet these requirements DON’T PANIC. Some companies give you the opportunity to study for these alongside the apprenticeship.

Here’s an example of a level 2 apprenticeship:

ICT Support Technician Apprenticeship

An ICT Support Technician provides support to internal and external customers. We know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, “have you tried turning it off and on again?” won’t become your new mantra.

You’ll use your initiative and get taught how to troubleshoot routine and non-routine problems. The experience you gain from an apprenticeship like this will open the door to the next level.

Typical job roles for this apprenticeship are;

  • IT Help Desk Technician
  • First or Second Line Support
  • Infrastructure Technician
  • Network Support

What qualifications will you gain?

  • Level 2 qualification
  • Knowledge-based qualification

These qualifications are equivalent to 5 GCSE passes, and qualify you for an advanced apprenticeship in IT.

Did you know?

28% of IT professionals hide their career from friends and family to get out of giving free tech support.

Advanced Apprenticeships (Level 3)

Are you ready to jump straight into a level 3 apprenticeship? An advanced apprenticeship is designed for people who have completed their GCSEs and want to start earning straight out of school.

Entry Requirements

This level usually requires a minimum of five GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (A* to C) or a completed intermediate apprenticeship. Advanced apprenticeships usually take around 24 months to complete, with apprentices working 30 hours a week (including study time).

Here’s an example of a level 3 apprenticeship:

Digital Support Technician

More and more organisations are updating their technology to optimise their performance. But, with more technology comes a higher demand for technicians.

If you decide to apply for an apprenticeship as a Digital Support Technician, you’ll need to choose between becoming a Digital Applications Technician or a Digital Service Technician. Let’s break that down:

A Digital Applications Technician focuses on the internal side of an organisation. It is their duty to keep everything running smoothly in the office e.g. fixing laptops and computers.

A Digital Service Technician is essentially the opposite. Their job is to support external customers and clients through different digital channels e.g. ensuring the website is in working order.

What qualifications will you gain?

  • Level 3 qualification (NVQ)
  • Knowledge-based qualification
  • These qualifications are equivalent to two A-levels.

Did you know?

The name Google was created accidentally. A spelling error was made by the original founders who were under the impression they were going for Googol.

Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4/5)

As you move up the ladder, you’ll find that apprenticeships are more and more competitive. Higher apprenticeships are only available to people aged 18 or over, and they must have the relevant experience and qualifications. Keep in mind that these apprenticeships can take up to five years to complete!

Entry Requirements

To apply for a higher apprenticeship you need to have at least two A-Levels or have completed an advanced apprenticeship.

Here’s an example of a level 4/5 apprenticeship:

Data Analyst

How much do you know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was big news in 2018? This scandal made us all aware of how much data there is out there and how important it is to protect it.

Up for the task? Consider a role as a Data Analyst. Data Analysts are responsible for collecting, organising and studying data to provide business insights.

On a Data Analyst apprenticeship, you will develop the following skills:

  • Logical and creative thinking
  • Analytical and problem solving
  • Understanding the range of data protection and legal issues
  • And under supervision, identify, collect and migrate data to/from a range of internal and external systems

What qualifications will you gain?

  • A level 4 (or above) qualification
  • Knowledge-based qualification
  • A higher national diploma or foundation degree

Did you know?

The 30th of November is known as “Computer Security Day”

Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6/7)

Level 6/7 apprenticeships offer a chance for you to get a debt-free degree. You’re getting the best of both worlds: the student lifestyle without having to eat cold baked beans straight from the tin every night.

A degree apprenticeship will typically take around three to six years to complete.

Entry Requirements

These vary between different employers. 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

Here’s an example of a level 6/7 apprenticeship:

Software Developer

Do you dabble in coding? Can you build super cool websites? Ever wanted to create the next app craze like Candy Crush? Well then, a career in software development could be for you.

By the end of the apprenticeship you’ll be equipped to:

  • Write quality code with sound syntax in at least one language
  • Develop effective user interfaces for at least one channel
  • Test code and analyse results to correct any errors

Apply structured techniques to problem solving, debug code and understand the structure of programmes in order to identify and resolve issues

What qualifications will you gain?

A well-deserved degree AND invaluable experience under your belt.

Did you know?

Computer programming is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in tech.

Certain sectors within this industry have spiked in popularity in recent years. Here are a few places you could take your career once you’ve done an apprenticeship:

Cyber Security

If you want to be the next Q from James Bond, this is the apprenticeship for you. It would be your job to protect your organisation from cybercrime.

Once you finish the apprenticeship, you’ll be competent in:

  • Designing, building, optimising, testing and troubleshooting simple and complex networks
  • Identifying vulnerabilities in big data architectures and deployment
  • Building a digital system to a specification
  • Protecting your organisation from cybercriminals

Cyber Security apprenticeships tend to only be found at Level 6 (Degree Apprenticeship). However, you can always start on a lower level apprenticeship and build up your qualifications and experience.

Did you know?

51% of internet traffic is “non-human”. 31% is made up from hacking programs, spammers and malicious phishing.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is a creative career option within the IT industry. This is a career path that has spiked due to the importance of maintaining an online presence for organisations.

Your day-to-day responsibilities would likely be: * Social media upkeep * Content planning / email marketing * Website upkeep * Marketing planning and analytical reporting

Did you know?

The number of global social media users grew by 202 million between April 2018 and April 2019.

Case Study

Still unsure whether an apprenticeship is right for you? Daisy is currently on a digital marketing apprenticeship with one of RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk’s top employers, Softcat. In her first week as an apprentice, Softcat sent Daisy on a bonding retreat in the Lake District with the other apprentices.

“We climbed a mountain, we camped on top of the mountain, I jumped through a waterfall. I conquered my fear of open water and I did that with people from work.”

Daisy’s experience is a great example of the one-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are opened for you as an apprentice. Do you think freshers jump through waterfalls in their spare time? They don’t.

To see what apprenticeships Softcat can offer you click here.

These are just a handful of examples for different routes you can take within the IT and Digital industry. Have a browse through the currently available apprenticeships on the website here.

How much could you earn on an apprenticeship?

IT and Digital apprentices earn an average salary of £19,211 a year. You’ll also get at least 20 days of paid holidays per year (not including bank holidays!).

The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.90 an hour, and this applies to anyone under the age of 19, or those in the first year of an IT apprenticeship. Below is an excellent table with the full rates of National Minimum Wage in the UK.

Age/Current Rate

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

IT Apprenticeships in London

London has been named one of the largest digital tech hubs in Europe. So, where else better to start your career in the tech industry. A hefty number of companies have their headquarters based in London. Therefore, it may be easier to secure an apprenticeship with a larger company.

There are more reasons to move to London than just for your apprenticeship. London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It’s home to the BBC, the West End and Abbey Road. It’s riddled with music venues and comedy clubs. From Shepherds Bush to Stratford, Golders Green to Brixton, you’ll find your tribe here in London.

But don’t worry if you don’t want to make the move to London, here at RateMyApprenticeship we have a tool where you can see apprenticeships in a specific area. Just click apprenticeships near me and set your preferred location.

What IT and technology companies could you work for?

We have a wide range of companies currently advertising IT and digital apprenticeships on RateMyPlacement. We have over 20,000 reviews live here that give a personalised insight into the company. Here are a few that offer apprenticeships in the IT and digital sector:

  • KPMG is an accounting and finance company that offers apprenticeships in software and maintenance development. One of our reviewers said,

“Technical skills [they have learnt] include learning to develop apps on a low-code BPM platform, working with software and application releases, creating documentation for applications and some personal development involving programming using statically and dynamically typed, object-oriented programming languages.” To read the full review click here.

  • The BBC is a company you definitely know. Well, they offer software engineering apprenticeships too! One apprentice said in their review,

“When I joined the BBC, I had no experience whatsoever in web design or development. 3 years in, I am now a self-proficient and skilled front-end developer, with some back-end experience.” To read the full review click here.

  • Capgemini is described as “a global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing services” and offers a variety of IT and digital apprenticeships. You could be a digital analyst, an applications consultant, a cyber security consultant etc.

  • IBM has over 380,000 colleagues worldwide in their business and technology based company. You could be like Oliver Pope-Mostowicz, an IT Architect apprentice. To read Oliver’s time at IBM click here.

Click here to see more of our recommended IT and digital employers and companies.

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