Find out more about higher apprenticeships and the industries they are offered in.

Higher apprenticeships provide an opportunity to gain Level 4 qualifications or above, with most apprentices gaining an NVQ Level 4, HND, or foundation degree. Some offer the opportunity to progress to Level 7 (which is postgraduate degree level).

A higher apprenticeship can take from one to five years to complete, and involve part-time study at a college, university, or training provider.  

According to government figures, 90% of apprentices in England stayed on in employment after completing their qualification; 71% with the same employer. 

Entry requirements can include at least five GCSEs grades A* – C (9 – 4 on the new grading system), including English and maths subjects, and Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, NVQs, or a BTEC.  Some employers will  expect or require applicants to have studied subjects relevant to the apprenticeship.

Competition for higher apprenticeships can be tough — partly because there are often only a limited number of vacancies, but also because school/college leavers and adults already in employment can apply for them. Employers may also be considering applications from existing employees, for the career progression opportunities they can offer.

FInd an apprenticeship

How do they work?

Apprentices will complete an assessment at the end of the programme, which tests both academic learning and occupational competence developed through on-the-job training.

The programme can be structured in one of two ways:

  1. Employers, training providers, and professional bodies come together to co-design a fully-integrated course specifically for apprentices, which delivers and tests both academic learning and on-the-job training. This may be the preferred approach for many sectors, as the learning is seamless and it doesn't require a separate assessment of occupational competence.
  2. Alternatively, sectors may wish to use existing programmes to deliver the academic knowledge requirements of that profession. They would then combine this with additional training to meet the full apprenticeship training requirements, and have a separate test of full occupational competence at the end of the programme.

What are the benefits of higher apprenticeships?

  • Apprentices are employed and paid a wage throughout the course.
  • Apprentices will gain a head start in their chosen profession.
  • Training costs are co-funded by the government and the employer.

How are apprentices recruited?

Apprenticeships are jobs and so employers are ultimately responsible for recruitment. Both employers and training providers will need to be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. It is likely that some employers and training providers will therefore do recruitment jointly.

As with other apprenticeships, employers may choose to advertise vacancies on the 'Find an apprenticeship' website.

Meet Bradley

Bradley progressed from an intermediate apprenticeship to a higher apprenticeship in engineering. He is studying with Dudley College and employed by KUKA Systems.

What's available?

Higher apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries and job roles – there are over 40 higher apprenticeship frameworks, including in these industries:

  • construction, planning and the built environment
  • agriculture, horticulture and animal care
  • arts, media and publishing
  • business, administration and law
  • engineering and manufacturing technologies
  • education and training
  • information and communication technology
  • science and mathematics
  • retail and commercial enterprise
  • health, public services and care

See our summary of sectors offering apprenticeships. To get an idea of what Level 4 apprenticeships are available, take a look at the  government's A-Z list of apprenticeships. You can find out more on the GOV.UK website.

Interested in an apprenticeship?

Register for smart alerts and we’ll keep you posted on the latest opportunities.

Sign up now