Everything you need to know about apprenticeships in Northern Ireland.

Taking an apprenticeship in Northern Ireland

Unlike at school, college or on a traditional degree course, an apprenticeship means most of your learning will be through on-the-job training in your place of work. An apprenticeship might be a good option if you like the idea of hands-on learning as well as some classroom-based study.

To be considered for an apprenticeship in Northern Ireland, you must:

  • already be in employment, or about to take up paid employment, in Northern Ireland
  • be working a minimum of 21 hours per week on a permanent contract
  • meet all the entry requirements of your chosen apprenticeship: for some, there are minimum entry requirements, such as GCSEs, and some higher level apprenticeship professions have entry requirements.

Wondering what an apprenticeship is like?

Hear from Evan about what his day-to-day life is like as a degree apprentice at Dawson, an engineering firm in Northern Ireland.

What apprenticeships are available in Northern Ireland?

There are three levels of apprenticeship available in Northern Ireland. They are:

There are currently around 170 Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships, and over 45 higher level apprenticeships to choose from. See how they compare with other qualifications.

Discover which apprenticeship might suit you

Interested in an apprenticeship but not sure what you want to do? Get to know the different industries offering apprenticeships, from marketing to architecture and business management to engineering.

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Entry requirements for apprenticeships in Northern Ireland

You start with the level of apprenticeship that best matches your existing qualifications and experience.

You can either progress from Level 2 to Level 3, or go straight in at Level 3 – depending on your ability and qualifications. It usually takes up to two years to complete one level, and up to four years to finish the two levels – depending on their complexity, and your ability.

Level     Entry requirements
Level 2 – generally considered to be equivalent to five GCSE passes. You need to be over 16 years old, and show you have the ability to complete the programme.
Level 3 – generally considered to be equivalent to two A level passes. Some industries may want you who have three or more GCSEs, but other employers don't specify any formal qualifications. Some may ask for previous experience in the industry.

Higher – equivalent to an HNC, a foundation degree, or the first year of an undergraduate degree.

Entry requirements can include at least five GCSEs grades A – C (9 – 4 on the new grading system), and Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, NVQ/SVQ Level 3, or a BTEC National. Some will expect or require applicants to have subjects related to the particular apprenticeship.

Check apprenticeship vacancies to see if there are any specific subjects and/or grades you need to have.

Max, apprentice at IBM

When I was searching for apprenticeships, I had no idea what to look for so I’d definitely recommend doing lots of research to find out more. You can research the different opportunities out there and see what sparks your interest. I’d also say don’t put all your eggs in one basket and apply for a few to give yourself the best chance.”

Finding a training provider

Once you’re in employment, and have agreed with your employer that you can become an apprentice, contact a local training provider. They will check your eligibility, and register your interest in training when it’s available. Your training provider will then meet with you and your employer to discuss your apprenticeship and training needs, and develop and agree a training plan.

Discover employers offering apprenticeships

Liking the sound of an apprenticeship but not sure where to begin looking? Get to know leading brands and the range of apprenticeships they offer. Everything from finance to engineering, and data analysis to project management.

Explore employers 

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