Higher apprenticeships are available in England at levels 4 and 5.
  • Level 4 apprenticeships are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree, or a Higher National Certificate (HNC).
  • Level 5 apprenticeships are equivalent to a foundation degree, or a Higher National Diploma (HND).

If you want to gain further qualifications, you can go on to complete a degree apprenticeship – the equivalent to an undergraduate or master’s degree.

Meet Sheona, a Level 4 sales apprentice at Coca-Cola Europacific partners.

What are the entry requirements for a higher apprenticeship?

To be eligible for a higher apprenticeship, you need to be:

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

An apprenticeship is a real job, so you’ll also need to meet any other criteria set out by the employer. Entry requirements are different depending on the employer and the industry you’re going into.

If you don’t already have GCSEs in English and maths, you generally need to take Functional Skills as part of the apprenticeship, which is an alternative to GCSEs.

Some employers may be looking for people who have taken relevant subjects or apprenticeships. For example, a lab-based apprenticeship may require a science A level.

To find out what level might suit you, look at current apprenticeship vacancies and their entry requirements. You’ll then be able to decide if you might be more suitable for a different level.

Eshan – apprentice, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

I’d say having a behind the scenes view of how it all works has been most beneficial to my development. I enjoy the theory and study element, but it’s seeing everything as it’s applied in my day job that really makes the theory sink in.

Marley – apprentice, Exclaimer

I think enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are the most important things if you’re thinking about an apprenticeship. If you come into work every day keen and with an open mind, you’ll learn so much more than you’re expecting.

How do higher apprenticeships work?

An apprenticeship is like a job, but with an added element of study. You’ll spend most of your time doing on-the-job training, and the rest studying with your college or training provider. 

At the end of the apprenticeship, you’ll have an assessment to check you can confidently perform your role. If you pass, you’ll be awarded your apprenticeship. The assessment is nothing to worry about, you’ll have been building up to it throughout your time at the apprenticeship.

£19,319*
The average salary of an apprentice.
*Glassdoor
90%
Percentage of apprentices who stay in employment after their apprenticeship.
*Gov.uk
2 – 5
Average number of years it takes to complete a higher apprenticeship.
Pros of an apprenticeship
  • You’re an employee and get paid a salary, a holiday allowance, and sick pay.
  • You’ll gain professional experience in your chosen career and put what you learn into practice daily.
  • You won’t have to pay any study costs, as they’re co-funded by your employer and the Government.
  • Many apprentices end up staying with the same company they did the apprenticeship with after qualifying.
Cons of an apprenticeship
  • It’s a real job! You’ll have to get to work on time and do what’s expected of you.
  • Learning and studying on the job can be tough. Your employer will support you, but you’ll need to take responsibility.
  • With an apprenticeship, life is very different to going to uni. While there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people, it won’t be like going to uni.
  • You’ll get paid, but like any other job, you’ll be paying tax and national insurance. You’ll need to learn to live on a budget.

Find out more about apprenticeship industries

Higher apprenticeships are available in a range of industries, from marketing and sales, to engineering, business management and more.

Explore industries

How do I apply for a higher apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is like a job, so you apply directly through the employer. You’ll need to submit a CV and answer some questions about yourself. If you get through the first stage, you’ll be invited to an interview and may have to complete an assessment centre. You might find this guidance useful:

You can search for higher apprenticeships using our Career Finder tool.