What are the different levels of apprenticeships?

As an employer, it’s likely you’re aware of the different types of apprenticeship programmes available to learners. There are many different apprenticeship levels, each equivalent to either GCSEs, A Levels, or university degrees.

All levels and all programmes are subject to eligibility and funding requirements. To make sure candidates are able to achieve the apprenticeship (and that it’s a suitable level) their roles and responsibilities will be assessed in line with the programme.

Lifetime has skills scans for every programme. It means that before we start the enrolment process, we identify whether a candidate covers enough activity in their role to be able to effectively undertake that programme level – and achieve it.

In terms of entry requirements, it completely depends on the provider you use and your own preferences as an employer. There may be specific criteria for candidates to be accepted on a programme, such as formal qualifications, particularly for higher level apprenticeships.

Different types of Apprenticeships Levels

The different apprenticeship qualification levels span from level two to level seven (seven being the highest). These are categorised as Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree apprenticeships. Here’s a breakdown of all the different levels.

What is an intermediate apprenticeship?

Intermediate level apprenticeships are entry-level apprenticeships. These programmes allow learners to get their foot in the door and start working towards their future careers. Intermediate apprenticeship programmes can nurture employees’ skills and improve retention rates.

What is an advanced apprenticeship?

Advanced apprenticeships can last up to two years, depending on the programme. They are the equivalent of two A Level passes, and in some cases, might require some previous qualifications to enrol on the programme. Apprenticeships can be completed by both school or college leavers and are a stepping stone to higher apprenticeships.

What is a higher apprenticeship?

Depending on the level, higher apprenticeships are the equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree or a foundation degree. During these programmes, learners continue their education while expanding their skills and gaining work experience (but without building up student debt). Find out more about higher apprenticeships here.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are the highest level of apprenticeship programmes. Although equivalent to Bachelor's and Master’s degrees, on apprenticeships, learners work towards a degree that is fully paid for. They’ll earn a salary, build specialised skill sets and gain industry experience over the three to six years it takes to complete the apprenticeship, depending on the course level.

Apprenticeship Levels Explained

The different levels of apprenticeships start from Level 2 and go up to Level 7, all split across the categories listed above. Apprenticeship programmes can take between two to five years to complete, depending on the course.

What is a Level 2 apprenticeship?

A Level 2 apprenticeship is an intermediate apprenticeship. There are no formal apprenticeship entry requirements for Level 2 apprenticeships, and they’re also a great steppingstone for starting a higher apprenticeship later on. Although a completely different type of learning, these apprenticeships are normally agreed as the equivalent to GCSE standard.

What is a Level 3 apprenticeship?

Next up is Level 3, the advanced apprenticeship level and is often the natural next step for learners who have completed Level 2. Like all other levels, learners completing this apprenticeship will gain an accredited qualification, as well as plenty of hands-on work experience.

It’s generally considered as the equivalent is two A Level passes and entry requirements and industry experience levels will depend on the employer.

What is a Level 4 apprenticeship?

Level 4 apprenticeships are the first of the higher apprenticeships and are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree. Although it’s a higher level, just like all other programmes, learners need to have the right roles and responsibilities to be accepted onto apprenticeships.

What is a Level 5 apprenticeship?

The second level of higher apprenticeships is the Level 5, equivalent to a foundation degree. As it’s a higher level, it’s not unusual to see some more specific requirements from employers.

Due to the programme’s level, most candidates might need to showcase a level of competency before they are accepted onto the course. They’ll also need to complete a skills scan to identify that their current role and responsibilities are high enough to undertake the apprenticeship.

What is a Level 6 apprenticeship?

First of the degree apprenticeships is the Level 6, which is equivalent is a bachelor’s degree and is mostly provided by universities. Entry requirements for a degree apprenticeship vary, but there may be some specific requirements, such as GCSEs and Level 3 qualifications (like an advanced apprenticeship, A Levels, BTEC or NVQ).

However, if a candidate has experience in the industry, some training providers or employers may ask for fewer qualifications.

What is a Level 7 apprenticeship?

The Level 7 is equivalent is a Master’s degree. As it’s the highest-level apprenticeship, there might also be some entry requirements. Again, these are set out by the employer or provider, but they might include:

  • a Level 4 or 5 apprenticeship or equivalent qualification
  • a Level 6 higher apprenticeship
  • experience relevant to the apprenticeship

Like all other apprenticeships, a Level 7 apprenticeship can be completed after university, offering an alternative to graduates who want to further their education but not necessarily through a Master’s degree. As the hardest apprenticeship level on offer, apprentices will be challenged academically as they would in a Master’s, but will also have to balance a job alongside.

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What different apprenticeship levels do Lifetime Training offer?

Lifetime offer a variety of apprenticeships to upskill different roles across diverse sectors, from entry-level all the way up to management roles. We can work with you to decide which of our apprenticeship programmes and career pathways could work best for you, based on your goals, principles and business needs. Have a specific question on apprenticeship levels?