Combining on-the-job training with study towards a professional qualification, the banking apprenticeships run by many of the UK's top financial companies will set you on your way to a successful career
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 apprenticeships - you can work towards your degree-level higher apprenticeship in compliance, group finance, internal audit, leadership and management, risk or relationship management.
- HSBC apprenticeship - at present, the bank offers one apprenticeship in UK global markets operations (Level 3 in financial services) to become an operations analyst.
- Lloyds Banking Group apprenticeships - available in three broad areas: financial services, digital and technology, and professional services.
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) apprenticeships - broken down by business function, you can choose to work as an apprentice in customer service, business administration, relationship management or technology.
- Santander apprenticeships - the higher apprenticeship in corporate and commercial banking lasts for 36 months and you'll be expected to rotate across different UK locations including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Gatwick and Edinburgh.
If you're interested in more general finance apprenticeships, you'll find that these aren't just restricted to banks - for example, the Level 4 finance apprenticeship offered by TJX Europe.
As well as providing training, finance apprenticeships can also lead you down a clearly defined path, culminating in a renowned qualification with a professional body. For instance, you could undertake an accounting apprenticeship with a recruiter such as Sky or Nestlé and work towards your Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) professional qualification to become a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).
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 of apprentices 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 HSBC UK global markets operations apprenticeship is a 13-month placement, whereas the group finance and internal audit higher apprenticeships at Barclays can take up to four years.
It's important to read through the specifics of the apprenticeship you're interested in to find out exactly how the programme is planned out, 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.
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.
See What is an apprenticeship? for more information on apprenticeship pay.
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 BCC (or equivalent) for entry onto its degree apprenticeship, while Santander expects three GCSEs at grades A-C (or equivalent, including 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 financial services apprenticeship based at its Bournemouth and London offices. You'll gain the CISI Investment Operations Certificate through this Level 4 investment operations specialist apprenticeship, but also have the chance to progress to a Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship and study for the CISI Diploma in Investment Operations.
As part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, NatWest Markets (NWM), along with UBS, also offer apprenticeships in investment banking (front office). NWM advertise their positions in September for a February start. To be eligible, you'll require ABB grades at A-level for the opportunity to undertake the Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship and complete the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 exam.
Finally, Morgan Stanley offers a three-year finance apprenticeship programme based in Glasgow. For this, you'll study towards the ACCA Foundation Diploma while working as a full-time analyst.
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 - applications for 2020 opened in October 2019 and are now closed. They are due to open again in December 2019. Overall, Aon has 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 degree 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 C in GCSE English and maths. Applications for the 2020 intake open in January 2020.
- Zurich - with apprenticeships available in actuarial, compliance, finance, insurance and IT infrastructure, there's plenty of choice with this insurer.
What other finance apprenticeships are there?
- EY tax business apprenticeship programme - lasting from between four and five years, you'll work towards the Masters-standard Level 7 Apprenticeship in Accountancy and Taxation. The salary is up to £22,000 per year, with the qualification provided by the ICAEW in England or ICAS in Scotland.
- KPMG 360° digital apprenticeship programme - the finance degree apprenticeships at KPMG include this specialist four-year digital technology focused programme to become a cyber security analyst or data analyst. You'll work in one of the firm's technology teams in Leeds, London or Manchester while studying towards the BSc Digital and Technology Solutions at BPP University.