Many of the UK's biggest financial institutions offer banking apprenticeships - not only will you get to experience different aspects of the business, but you'll also gain a professional qualification
In the world of banking, forging lasting relationships with both personal and business customers is just as important as being good with numbers. So if you've a genuine interest in people and the aptitude to learn about financial services and markets, the UK's major high street banks are always on the lookout for apprentices to work in their operational teams.
What banking apprenticeships are available?
The majority of banking apprenticeships are aimed at those who've completed their A-levels, with the higher apprenticeship (Levels 4 and 5) - equivalent to a foundation degree - being the most common type. However, banking degree apprenticeships (Level 6, equivalent to a Bachelors degree, and Level 7, equivalent to a Masters) are starting to emerge in this field.
You can read more about qualification levels in our apprenticeships section.
How does a banking apprenticeship differ from an internship?
Banking apprenticeships are formal arrangements where you'll be paid a salary and achieve a recognised qualification, while internships are typically short-term - usually lasting between one week and a year - and are more about gaining vital work experience in the financial services sector.
Which companies offer banking apprenticeships?
These programmes are typically offered by the main retail banks, including the following five leading graduate employers:
- Barclays - you can work towards your degree-level higher apprenticeship in either operations or technology.
- HSBC - in addition to its foundation apprenticeships, the bank now offers four-year degree apprenticeships where you'll rotate across different business areas while studying towards a university degree.
- Lloyds Banking Group - apprenticeships are available in three broad areas: financial services, digital and technology, and professional services.
- NatWest Group - broken down by business function, you can choose to work as an apprentice in business administration, customer service, digital, technology and data, or relationship management.
- Santander - the higher apprenticeship in corporate and commercial banking lasts for 36 months and you'll be expected to rotate across different UK locations including Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, London, Edinburgh and Manchester.
If you're interested in more general finance apprenticeships, you'll find programmes that aren't just restricted to banking. Indeed, a range of apprenticeships are available at the UK's central bank, the Bank of England. These include a 39-month degree apprenticeship development programme in areas such as data science, digital and technology solutions as well as the professional economist apprenticeship.
What do banking apprenticeships involve?
While the nature of each role will vary, you'll likely join a team within one of the bank's business functions, such as customer relations, specialist product sales, operations, risk or digital transformation. You could be handed your own personal or corporate banking product portfolio, and be involved with delivering solutions to clients. A high degree of flexibility is expected, and you'll need to be proactive in collaborating with colleagues.
Through the structured training you'll be supported, as you learn and look to successfully complete the qualification element of the programme (typically while on study leave). As with other apprenticeships, they vary from 12 months to six years in length, depending on a number of factors.
For example, the three-year Level 6 apprenticeship at Santander involves rotating across their relationship management, risk and operational teams, which are based across the country.
It's important to read through the specifics of the apprenticeship you're interested in to find out exactly how the programme is delivered, and what you can expect to have achieved at the end of it.
How much will I be paid?
All apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate of pay or the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The former is currently set at £4.15 per hour, with the NMW £8.20 for those aged 21-24 and who've already completed the first year of their apprenticeship.
However, you'll find that this is more of a guideline as some employers will offer a higher salary. For example, apprentices on Santander's degree-level corporate and commercial banking apprenticeship will benefit from a £20,000 (£23,000 in London) starting salary with pay progression.
For more information on apprenticeship pay, see GOV.UK - Become an apprentice.
How do I become a banking apprentice?
Employers will set out their own application timeframes and procedures. To give you an idea of what to expect, you can apply for entry onto one of Barclays programmes in either February or March, with the application window closing in May for a September start date. Remember though, it's never too early to begin researching which programme might be right for you.
In terms of entry requirements, Barclays asks for three A-levels at AAA-BBB (or equivalent) for entry onto its higher apprenticeship in operations, while Santander expects GCSEs at grades 4-7 in maths and English, plus at least 104 UCAS points (top three A-level grades or equivalent excluding general studies and the extended project).
What banking careers can the apprenticeship lead to?
You could get a job as a:
- change manager
- cyber security analyst
- data analyst
- financial manager
- financial risk analyst
- operational manager
- operations analyst
- relationship manager
- project manager
- retail banker
- risk manager.
For other finance careers, see our accountancy, banking and finance job profiles.
What about investment banking apprenticeships?
Major investment bank J.P. Morgan runs a four-year Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship programme based at its Bournemouth office. You'll study towards the Level 4 Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI) Investment Operations Certificate before progressing to the Level 6 Diploma in Investment Operations. This apprenticeship results in a full honours degree from the University of Exeter.
Alternatively, Morgan Stanley offers a three-year finance apprenticeship programme based in Glasgow. For this, you'll study towards the ACCA Foundation in Accounting (FIA) Diploma while working within the company's finance division.
Explore whether this field is best-suited to your skillset and read advice on how to find work in the industry by visiting 5 tips on getting into investment banking.
Are insurance apprenticeships available?
Some of the banking apprenticeships already mentioned cover opportunities to work in insurance - however, there are plenty of dedicated programmes on offer, including:
- Aon - there are five streams to pick from (at Levels 3 and 4): actuarial, client management, insurance and reinsurance, investment consulting and employee benefits. The apprenticeship is a permanent position, comes with a salary of £18,000 to £20,000 and roles are available nationwide.
- Aviva - higher apprenticeships (at Levels 4 and 5) are often available with the company in trainee trading underwriter and actuarial roles.
- AXA - finance, underwriting and claims are just a few of the business areas taking on apprentices, and these can lead to qualifications up to Masters level (Levels 6 and 7).
- Lloyd's of London - the 18-month insurance apprenticeship programme involves three rotations across the business, which could be in its innovation lab or with the market intelligence team. You'll work towards Level 4 Insurance Professional standard, as you aim to complete the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) diploma. The salary is £19,275 and Lloyd's are looking for those with three A-levels (or equivalent) at grade C or above and grade 4 in GCSE English and maths.
- Zurich - with apprenticeships available in actuarial, compliance, finance, insurance and IT infrastructure, there's plenty of choice with this insurer.