If you’re aged 16–24, your employer and the government will meet the tuition fees of your apprenticeship (including degree apprenticeships). As an employee, you will be paid a salary by your employer. This means you can graduate debt-free.
However, you will need to cover your day-to-day living costs, rent, travel costs, equipment, and materials. What’s more, apprentices are not eligible for student loans.
Salaries and minimum wages for apprentices
As an apprentice, you must receive at least the apprenticeship minimum wage for your first year. After that you must receive at least the minimum wage for your age group:
|Age||Current hourly rate|
|Apprentice minimum wage||£4.30|
|18 – 20||£6.56|
|21 – 22||£8.36|
|23 and over||£8.91|
If you don’t know your hourly rate, use this calculator to make sure you’re getting the minimum.
To really get a feel for what you might earn, take a look at some real apprentice vacancies. Just remember that different levels of apprenticeship pay differently. Remember to factor in the tuition fees for a similar level qualification.
If you’ve only worked a part-time job before, you’ll be happy to know that you can expect holiday pay. And if you earn enough, a pension scheme. Some employers may offer other benefits, such as green travel loans, company equipment such as a phone or car, leisure facilities, or a relocation allowance if you have to move.
You’ll be classed as an employee, rather than a student, so you won’t be entitled to student discounts. But the National Union of Students (NUS) offers an NUS Apprentice Extra Card. Most businesses will treat this as a student ID.
You may also be eligible for discounts on public transport, with many schemes running on a local basis, like the Apprentice Oyster photo card in London – giving apprentices 30% off certain journeys.
What if I have additional needs?
All providers have a support structure in place for students with additional needs. Make sure you talk to your employer and training provider before you start, so that everything you need to succeed is in place from day one.
Here’s a really useful guide to disability support for apprentices from Disability Rights UK that should help you find the right course for your needs.
Apprentices pay income tax in the same way most people do – if you’re earning over £12,570 per year, you’ll have to pay your share. If you earn more than £184 per week (£9,568 per year), you’ll also have to pay National Insurance contributions, charged at 12% of your income. But both are deducted from your earnings before you ever get your hands on the money. So, you won’t notice the loss.
Unlike students, you won’t be exempt from council tax – but if you live in a household of only apprentices and trainees, you can get a 50% discount.
Sign up to Career Finder
If you think an apprenticeship could be right for you, head over to Career Finder and create an account.
You'll be able to:
- search for all apprenticeship roles
- filter by subject area, role type, location, and level of apprenticeship
- shortlist jobs
- sign up for alerts
- keep tabs on applications you've made