Apprenticeship levels UK explained – What are the different levels?

Get information on the different apprenticeship levels in the UK. See what types of apprenticeship are available and who can start one.

What is an apprenticeship and what are the different levels of apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is a paid job where you learn, study and gain practical experience. Completing an apprenticeship gives you the skills and knowledge needed for your role and allows you to progress in your chosen career while working and earning a salary.

How does an apprenticeship work?

When you become an apprentice, you combine practical training with studying. You become an employee with a salary and holiday pay, while reserving at least 20% of your normal working hours for training and study related to your role.

The purpose is to gain job-specific skills and experience. Depending on the level of apprenticeship you are working towards, they take 1 to 5 years to complete.

Levels of apprenticeship explained

Apprenticeships have equivalent levels that follow a similar path to other educational routes, including going to sixth form or college and higher education. Here’s what the different levels of apprenticeship mean and how they relate to other qualifications:

  Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4
Advanced 3 2 A level passes
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Some apprenticeships may also give you an additional qualification, such as a diploma.

What do the different apprenticeship levels mean?

- Level 2 qualifications are intermediate, and the completion of a Level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to GCSE passes at grades 9–4 (A*–C on the old system).
- Level 3 qualifications are advanced, and the completion of a Level 3 apprenticeship is equivalent to A level passes.
- Levels 4, 5, 6, and 7 are higher apprenticeships.
- Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a higher education certificate, higher education diploma or a foundation degree (the first year of a degree).
- Levels 6 and 7 are degree apprenticeships and enable you to gain the equivalent of a bachelor’s or master’s degree while you work.

Who can start an apprenticeship?

You’ll need to be:

• 16 or over
• living in England
• not in full-time education

Can you do an apprenticeship as an adult?

Yes, anyone over 16 can do one. It’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are just for young people. They were previously only for school leavers and under 19s, but there is no upper age limit for apprentices. You can begin an apprenticeship at any age.

Find out about apprenticeships for adults.

What types of apprenticeships are there?

There are apprenticeships in almost every sector and industry. The list below gives you an idea of the different fields open to you.
People decide to do an apprenticeship for many reasons, but a common reason is the chance to work within your chosen role or industry without taking on the debt of higher education and having the freedom to earn money alongside studying.

Types of apprenticeship:

• Accounting and finance
• Agriculture, animals, horticulture and the environment
• Architecture and planning
• Art, performance and design
• Building and construction
• Business and office administration
• Business management
• Engineering
• Information and communication technology
• Law and legal studies
• Marketing and sales
• Media, publishing and information services
• Medicine, dentistry and nursing
• Natural sciences
• Public health, social care and childcare services
• Teaching and lecturing
• Transportation
• Travel, leisure, sport and hospitality

You might think some industries are only accessible to those with a bachelor’s degree, for example law, engineering, or nursing, but apprenticeships make many careers more accessible to people who want to work while learning.

Are you considering an apprenticeship?

If you are aged under 19 and considering an apprenticeship, get free advice on the MyDirections website. Powered by the Careers Advisers at C+K, MyDirections provides young people with the information they need to make decisions about the future.

If you are an adult in England looking for an apprenticeship, you can use the apprenticeship search tool on the website. Are you looking for careers advice? Talk to our team.


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