If you’re torn between going to university and starting work a degree apprenticeship may be for you. Degree apprenticeships combine the best of both worlds, you work full time and study for a degree that your employer and the government pay for.
What are degree apprenticeships?
Degree apprenticeships provide an alternative route to university and allow apprentices to gain a degree alongside working full time, they take between 3 and 6 years to complete. If you’re stuck choosing between an apprenticeship and going to university they may be for you as they combine the best of both worlds.
There are two levels of degree apprenticeships:
- A Level 6 apprenticeship qualifies you with a full Bachelor’s degree
- A Level 7 apprenticeship qualifies you with a Masters degree
How do they work?
Apprentices work full time throughout the year for at least 30 hours a week for 30 weeks, with at least 20 days paid holiday and bank holidays off. Time is split between working for their employer and doing university work. Apprenticeships must spend at least 20% of their time studying, this could be through studying at university one day a week, online learning, blended learning, or a block of days each month.
Throughout the program apprentices will juggle university work and exams with working full time. At the end of the program apprentices complete an assessment which tests academic learning and knowledge learnt through on-the-job training. Apprentices are awarded a degree by a university, this is the equivalent of a degree undertaken through a full-time undergraduate route.
The cost of studying is co-funded by the employer and the government, meaning apprentices leave their apprenticeship debt free with a degree!
How much can you earn?
Salary varies depending on the company, sector, location, and the age of the apprenticeship. The UK Apprentice minimum wage for apprentices is £4.15 an hour, with some companies paying more than double that amount, for example the BBC’s Mechanical Engineering apprentices have a starting salary of £18,810 a year - that’s more than some graduate starting salaries!
Degree level apprentices tend to get paid more than other apprentices and have the added benefit of leaving their apprenticeship with a degree without the debt - this is incredible, especially considering that the average student graduates with debt of over £50,000!
What areas can you do the degree in?
Degree apprenticeships are available in a wide range of different industries and you could see yourself working for large companies such as the BBC, Sky, McDonalds, Unilever or working at smaller regional companies.
- Business management and administration
- Childcare and education
- Creative and design
- Engineering and manufacturing
- Health and science
- Legal, finance, and accounting
- Protective services (e.g. police services)
- Public relations
What university do you get the degree from?
The university you graduate from depends on the sector you’re working in and which degree apprenticeship you’re completing, you can’t choose the university. You can undertake your degree with Russell Group, red brick, and modern universities. Quite often you won’t be studying at the actual university due to distance, with classes being held online or at an institution close to where you work, but the degree will be awarded by the university.
Who can do them?
Degree apprenticeships tend to be targeted at 18-19-year-old school leavers or lower level apprentices who are moving up to the next level of apprenticeship. If you already have a degree you can enrol onto some degree apprenticeships, as long as your degree is in a different field to the one you’re applying to. See below for information about entry requirements – one key thing employers look for is a genuine desire to learn!
What are the entry requirements?
Degree apprenticeships are highly competitive with demand outweighing supply. The majority of employers will ask for formal qualifications including at least 5 GCSEs (A*-C or 9-4), or Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications including BTECs. Often employers will expect applicants to have qualifications relevant to the apprenticeship already. Employers will be looking for students with the top grades and a passion for the subject.
Where can you find out more information?
Head on over to the Gov UK website to find out more about degree apprenticeships. You can use Apprenticeship Finder's search tool to search for apprenticeship vacancies to get a better idea of what types of apprenticeships you can apply for. You can also read articles written by apprentices on Apprenticeship Finder’s blog, and on Rate My Apprenticeship.