Achieve a professional qualification as you get to work for one of the UK's major financial institutions, a banking apprenticeship provides the perfect entry route into the industry

In the competitive 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. Lasting between one week and a year, they're 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 - if you've completed your GCSEs, there are foundation apprenticeships in operations, technology and customer service, while those with A-levels can work towards a degree-level higher apprenticeship in either operations, technology, functions (compliance, finance, internal audit and risk) or user experience design.
  • HSBC - in addition to its foundation apprenticeships for school/college leavers, HSBC also offers four-year banking degree apprenticeships. The programme involves a number of rotations across your chosen business area (wealth and personal banking or commercial banking) while studying towards a university degree.
  • Lloyds Banking Group - apprenticeships are available in three broad areas: financial services, digital and technology, and professional services. They range from intermediate (Level 2) to degree level (Level 6), lasting from one to three years.
  • NatWest Group - broken down by business function, you can choose to work as an apprentice in customer service, specialist and support, digital, technology and data, or relationship management.
  • Santander - ranging from Level 3 up to Level 6, apprenticeships are available in finance, economic crime, data science, technology engineering, fraud and corporate and commercial banking.

If you're interested in more general finance apprenticeships, you'll find that some of these programmes aren't just restricted to banking.

The UK's central bank, the Bank of England runs a Level 4 apprenticeship development programme to become an associate project manager, information systems business analyst, professional accounting/taxation technician or data analyst.

The bank also offers 36-month degree apprenticeships in areas such as data science, digital and technology solutions, and the professional economist degree 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.

For instance, 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 various 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 by 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 £5.28 per hour (from April 2023), with the NMW £10.18 for those aged 21-22 and who've already completed the first year of their apprenticeship. If you're 23-plus, the National Living Wage (NLW) is set at £10.42.

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 finance apprenticeship will benefit from a £20,000 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 (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.

After you've applied online, the application process will typically involve assessment centres and interviews.

What banking careers can the apprenticeship lead to?

With a financial services apprenticeship, you could get a job as a:

For other finance careers, see our accountancy, banking and finance job profiles.

What about apprenticeships in investment banking?

Major investment bank J.P. Morgan runs four UK apprenticeships, including a four-year Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship programme. 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.

Alternatively, Morgan Stanley offers a three-year finance apprenticeship programme based in Glasgow. For this, you'll study towards the ACCA Foundation Diploma while working within the company's finance division.

Explore whether this field is best-suited to your skillset and read advice on finding work in the industry at 5 tips on getting into investment banking.

Are insurance apprenticeships available?

Some of the finance 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.
  • 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. Applications open in January each year, with the salary set at £19,275.
  • Zurich - apprenticeships are available in claims and underwriting, with a wage of £17,500 offered for both apprentice roles.

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