Apprenticeship Levels in the UK

Apprenticeship Levels

A guide to understanding apprenticeship levels and which apprenticeships are right for you to become an apprentice.

Understanding Apprenticeship Levels in the UK

Apprenticeships have long been a cornerstone of vocational education in the United Kingdom. They offer a unique opportunity for individuals to gain valuable skills and knowledge while earning a wage. One crucial aspect of the apprenticeship system in the UK is the concept of "Apprenticeship Levels." In this comprehensive guide, we will explore these levels, their significance, and how they shape the future of apprenticeships in the UK.


Table of Contents

What Are Apprenticeship Levels?

Understanding the Different Levels

2.1 Intermediate Apprenticeships

2.2 Advanced Apprenticeships

2.3 Higher Apprenticeships

2.4 Degree Apprenticeships

Why Are Apprenticeship Levels Important?

FAQs about Apprenticeship Levels


What Are Apprenticeship Levels?

Apprenticeship Levels in the UK refer to the different stages of apprenticeship programs. They are designed to accommodate individuals with varying levels of education, skills, and career aspirations. The UK offers a range of apprenticeship levels, allowing people to enter at a suitable stage based on their qualifications and goals.


Apprenticeship Levels

Understanding the Different Levels


Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate Apprenticeships are the entry-level apprenticeships. They are equivalent to five GCSE passes and provide a foundation of practical skills and knowledge. These apprenticeships typically last for a minimum of 12 months and cover a wide range of industries.


Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships are one step up from intermediate. They are equivalent to two A-level passes and offer more in-depth training and knowledge. The duration of an advanced apprenticeship is usually between 18 to 24 months, depending on the industry.


Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships are designed for individuals who want to pursue a more specialised career path. They are equivalent to a foundation degree and provide a higher level of training and education. These apprenticeships can take anywhere from 18 months to 5 years to complete.


Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships are the highest level of apprenticeships available in the UK. They offer the opportunity to earn a full bachelor's or master's degree while working and earning a wage. The duration varies but is typically three to six years.



Why Are Apprenticeship Levels Important?

Apprenticeship Levels play a crucial role in ensuring that apprenticeships are accessible to a broad spectrum of people. They recognise that individuals have different educational backgrounds and career aspirations. Here's why these levels are important:


1) Inclusivity: By offering various levels, apprenticeships are inclusive and accessible to individuals with different educational backgrounds.

2) Skills Progression: They provide a clear path for skill development and career progression, encouraging individuals to continue their education and training.

3) Employer Needs: Different industries have varying requirements. Apprenticeship levels allow employers to find candidates with the right skills and qualifications.



Choosing the Right Apprenticeship Level

Selecting the appropriate apprenticeship level is crucial for both applicants and employers. It's essential to consider factors such as your current qualifications, career goals, and the industry you want to work in. Seeking guidance from careers advisors or apprenticeship providers can be immensely helpful in making this decision.



Apprenticeship vs. Traditional Education

Apprenticeships offer a unique alternative to traditional education. They combine practical training with academic learning, making them a valuable option for those who prefer hands-on experience. Moreover, apprentices can earn a wage while learning, avoiding the burden of student loans that often come with university education.



The Role of Employers

Employers play a pivotal role in the success of apprenticeships. They provide the training, support, and work experience that apprentices need to thrive. Engaging with apprenticeships can be an excellent way for employers to develop a skilled workforce tailored to their industry's specific needs.



The Future of Apprenticeships in the UK

The future of apprenticeships in the UK looks promising. The government continues to invest in apprenticeship programs to address skill shortages across various sectors. Innovations like degree apprenticeships and digital learning platforms are making apprenticeships even more accessible.


However, there are challenges to overcome, such as increasing awareness about apprenticeships and ensuring that employers from all sectors actively participate in apprenticeship programs. The ongoing collaboration between government, educational institutions, and businesses will be essential to overcome these challenges and strengthen the apprenticeship system.



Apprenticeship Levels in the UK provide a flexible and inclusive pathway to gaining valuable skills, qualifications, and work experience. Whether you're just starting your career or looking to up-skill, there is likely an apprenticeship level that suits your needs. 


The apprenticeship system is a dynamic and vital part of the UK's educational landscape, offering a bright future for both individuals and industries. Embracing apprenticeships can open doors to a world of opportunities and help build a skilled workforce ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apprenticeship Levels

How can I apply for Apprenticeships at different Levels?

To apply, search for apprenticeship vacancies on government websites or through apprenticeship portals like ours. Submit your application online, and follow the specific instructions for each vacancy.

Are there any financial considerations for different Apprenticeship Levels?

Apprenticeships are funded differently at each level. Generally, higher-level apprenticeships tend to offer higher wages, but it's essential to check with your employer and the government for details.

How long does it take to complete each Apprenticeship Level?

The duration varies depending on the level and the specific apprenticeship. Typically, Level 2 may take 1-2 years, while Level 7 can take up to 6 years.

Are there age restrictions for different Apprenticeship Levels?

There are generally no age restrictions for Apprenticeship Levels in the UK. Anyone can apply, whether you're a school leaver or looking to change careers.

What is the highest Apprenticeship Level in the UK?

Level 7 Apprenticeships are the highest level available and are equivalent to a master's degree. They're tailored for professionals who wish to reach the pinnacle of their careers.

Register as an apprentice.

Register to become an apprentice on the UK's leading website for apprenticeships.

By setting up an apprentice profile and creating an apprenticeship alert you'll be one step closer to becoming an apprentice. 


Apprenticeship Levels Explained

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate Apprenticeships are your entry level into the world of apprenticeships more commonly known as a Level 2 Apprenticeship. Level 2 apprenticeships offer an excellent route into further education post 16, as an alternative to staying on at school, whilst receiving on the job training and studying towards a nationally recognised qualification.

During your intermediate apprenticeship you will study part-time with a college or a training provider, 20% of your training, towards an NVQ Level 2 and knowledge based qualification such as a BTEC, together these qualifications are the equivalent to 5 GCSE's grades 9 - 4 (A* - C on the old grading system). You will also receive a Level 2 Functional Skills in Maths and English if you don't already have them.

An Intermediate Apprenticeship is great for learning work related skills as apposed to being given more responsibility. This level of training will make you work ready and train you in the hands on skills required to undertake the responsibility of the task and give you the employability skills you need to be successful.

Qualifying Criteria

There is no formal qualifying criteria for a Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship however some employers may ask for a minimum of 2 GCSE's to be able to join their apprenticeship programme.


Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships

Advanced Apprenticeships or commonly known as Level 3 Apprenticeships are the equivalent to doing 2 A-Levels and are the next level from an intermediate apprenticeship. Level 3 apprenticeships are great for you to start once you have completed your GCSE's and have attained the correct grades to be able to start at this level.

Starting at the advanced level even if you already have A-levels enables you to gain on the training, of which some employers prefer you to have before starting a Higher or Degree apprenticeship.

Just like an intermediate apprenticeship you will be required to spend at least 20% of your time studying with a college or training provider to be able to achieve the qualifications. On completion of you r apprenticeship you will achieve the equivalent of 2 A-Levels in the form of an NVQ Level 3 and a knowledge based qualifications such as a BTEC diploma.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship many employers ask for a minimum of 5 GCSE's which must include Maths and English, this is why an intermediate apprenticeships gives you these qualifications on completion. Although an advanced apprenticeships is the equivalent of 2 A-Levels some employers may add A-Levels as their requirement at this level also.

Find companies advertising advanced apprenticeship jobs on our website.

Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships are your Levels 4 and 5 qualifications and enable you to study towards a HNC or HND respectively whilst at Level 5 you can also attain a foundation degree which is great if you want to continue in your studies towards a bachelors degree.

During your higher apprenticeship training you will be required to studying part-time with a training provider, college or university which along with your on the job training will enable you to train towards a Level 4 or 5 NVQ and BTEC diploma along with their respective HNC or HND qualification. Higher apprenticeships can take up to four years to complete.

As a higher apprentice you will be given a lot more responsibility which may include managing people or teams or even responsible for managing projects. You will be supported by your employer along side your mentors and tutors making sure to advise and guide you along the way during your apprenticeship programme.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a higher apprenticeship you will need to have achieved and completed at least a Level 3 Apprenticeship or have 5 GCSE's grades 9-4 which must include Maths and English and 2 A-Levels.

Find companies advertising higher apprenticeship jobs on our website.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships were introduced in September 2015 and have been receive with open arms both by employers and apprentices alike. Also known as Level 6 or 7 apprenticeships the degree level apprenticeship enables you to study towards a Bachelors or Masters degree.

You can start a degree apprenticeships straight after your advanced apprenticeship level or alternatively if you want to gain more on the job training before the Level 6 programme you can overlap from a higher apprenticeship programme. Many employers are now partnering with leading universities across the country to offer degree level apprenticeships to help advance your learning opportunities.

Just like studying at university a degree level apprenticeship takes between 3 to 6 years to complete you will achieve this by on the job training with your employer and training provider and then part-time study at the designated university for your apprenticeship course.

Qualifying Criteria

To qualifying for a degree apprenticeship you will need to have at least Level 3 qualifications of 2 A-Levels, NVQ and BTEC or have completely the advanced apprenticeship. Level 6 and 7 are also a natural progression from a higher apprenticeship.

Find companies advertising degree apprenticeship jobs on our website.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a form of further education which offers on the job training for you to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst studying part-time with an apprenticeship training provider, college or university through workshops or classroom training.

Apprenticeship training has to be delivered by a registered apprenticeship training provider which can also be an employer-provider, where the employer you are training through are on the register of training providers to be able to deliver their own training requirements. If an employer acts as an employer-provider they will usually employ a number of people such as Apprenticeship Assessors, Mentors and Managers to support you through your apprenticeship programme.

During your apprenticeship you will receive a salary and all the other benefits permanent employees receive. An apprenticeship job is only for a specified time as stipulated at the beginning of your apprenticeship training which can last anything from 12 months to 5 years.

To find our more about apprenticeships please refer to our What is an Apprenticeship? guide.

Why should you start an apprenticeship?

If you are considering your post 16 options you probably wouldn't have considered an apprenticeship a few years ago and would be struggling or worrying what to do when you leave school. It is a legal requirement for you to now stay in some form of further education until the age of 18 and you now have three options A-Levels, College or an Apprenticeship.

You can start an apprenticeship at the age of 16 through the Intermediate or Advanced level apprenticeship programmes across many industry sectors from Construction, Technology or even Marketing. There are no entry requirements for the intermediate apprenticeship, however you will need at least 5 GCSE's at grade 4 (previously C grade) or above to qualify for the advanced apprenticeship. On completion of the intermediate you will gain the qualifying criteria for a level 3.

The best reason for starting an apprenticeship is on completion of each level you will receive a nationally recognised qualification from an NVQ all the way up to a degree level apprenticeship such as a Bachelors or Masters.


How can you become an apprentice?

There are a number of ways to become an apprentice so we thought we would list them for you:

  • Register with websites like ourselves, there are others available.
  • Apprenticeship Job Fairs are great for meeting employers and training providers.
  • Contact training providers in your area, a simple Google search "Training providers near me" will give you the information you need.
  • Contact your local colleges or universities or visit their websites to see if they offer apprenticeship training.
  • UCAS promote apprenticeship opportunities on their website on behalf of employers.

and finally......

  • Do some research on apprenticeships and find a topic or industry that you would like to start an apprenticeship in and then research local companies in those sectors and visit their websites to see if they offer apprenticeship training and apply directly with them.