If you're eager to get stuck into a business role an apprenticeship might be for you. You don't need to spend three years at university, instead you'll start work straight away and earn while you learn
What business apprenticeships are available?
Business apprenticeships focus on helping an organisation to run effectively and profitably and can encompass a range of functions. Available schemes include business administration, business development, consultancy, management and leadership apprenticeships.
Business and management related schemes start at intermediate level (Level 2 - comparable to GCSEs), but the majority are set at advanced level (Level 3 - equivalent to A-levels) and progress to higher (Levels 4 and 5 - comparable to a foundation degree or above) before reaching degree apprenticeship level (Levels 6 and 7 - equivalent to a Bachelors or Masters degree).
As an apprentice you'll work for a company and receive on-the-job training and study in order to achieve industry-recognised qualifications. You'll be paid a full-time wage and will complete the programme totally debt free, as all study and training costs are covered by your employer and the government. To find out more about how apprenticeships work, see what is an apprenticeship?
Which firms offer apprenticeships?
- Chartered Management Institute
This is by no means a complete list. Business administrators, advisers, developers, managers and consultants are needed in almost all sectors, so research companies that interest you to see if they offer business or management apprenticeships.
What do business apprenticeships involve?
There are a number of schemes under the umbrella term of 'business apprenticeship':
- Business administration apprenticeships train candidates for important support roles within an organisation. You might be typing up meeting documents, faxing and photocopying confidential files and compiling financial data in spreadsheets. With an intermediate business administration apprenticeship you can train as a receptionist, office junior or business support officer. Advanced apprenticeships equip you for working as a personal assistant, secretary or legal secretary. Higher apprenticeships lead to office manager or business development executive roles.
- Business development apprenticeships teach you how to think creatively to improve the success of an organisation. Responsibilities include helping a team to implement their ideas and research into new products and marketing. With these higher apprenticeships you could train as a business development manager or project manager.
- Management apprenticeships equip you with a range of transferable skills. On a day-to-day basis you may brief teams, resolve problems, source supplies, monitor work, agree budgets, manage conflict and plan and implement change. At intermediate level you could train to become a team leader, floor manager or trainee supervisor. With an advanced management apprenticeship you could become an assistant manager, section manager or first line manager. Higher apprenticeships lead to careers as a senior manager, head of department or director.
Degree apprenticeships in the business sector are increasingly popular and more widely available. You can now take a Level 6 or 7 apprenticeship to become a chartered manager, project manager or senior leader.
Apprenticeships usually take between one and four years to complete. The duration will depend on the type and level of the programme, with degree apprenticeships unsurprisingly lasting the longest.
Day-to-day working hours also vary, as these are set by your employer, but on average you can expect to work 30 hours a week. To complete the training or study element of your apprenticeship you may be allocated one day per week to attend college or university, or scheduled study blocks of a week or more.
Assessment methods include essays, coursework, presentations and written exams.
Who are they aimed at?
Apprenticeships are an alternative to university, so are traditionally for school leavers or career changers, but almost anyone can apply as long as they meet the required criteria.
Intermediate and advanced (Level 2 and 3) apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers. For a Level 2 apprenticeship you need to be 16 or over, eligible to work in England and not in full time education. At Level 3 some employers may ask for prior work experience and at least three A*to C or 9 to 4 grade GCSEs or equivalent - such as an intermediate apprenticeship qualification.
Higher and degree apprenticeships (Levels 4,5,6 and 7) are targeted towards those with A-levels or those who have already completed an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship. If you already have a degree you won’t be able to apply for a degree apprenticeship.
How much will I be paid?
All apprentices are entitled to, and should be paid, the National Minimum Wage (NMW). For apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year, the NMW rate stands at £4.15 per hour.
If you are over 19 and have completed your first year you must be paid at least the minimum wage rate for your age.
You will be paid for your normal working hours and any training that is part of your apprenticeship.
Salaries are set by employers. In the majority of cases you'll be paid significantly more than the NMW, especially if undertaking a higher or degree apprenticeship. For example, the BBC pays an annual salary of £18,810 to apprentices working in London on its business management higher apprenticeship.
As well as additional employee benefits such as discounted travel you'll also get at least 20 days of paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.
How do I become a business apprentice?
Most applications are made online by completing an application form, although methods may vary, so check with the organisation first.
Apply for apprenticeships as you would for a job. Thoroughly research the company that you're interested in and ensure that your CV is up to date. You'll need to tailor your application to fit the role by including evidence of relevant experience and examples of when you've demonstrated required competencies. For business roles you could provide examples of when you've led a group - perhaps as the captain of a sports team or worked in an office environment or dealt with members of the public through a part-time job. For inspiration take a look at our example apprenticeship cover letter.
Some organisations may ask you to sit situational judgement, numerical and psychometric tests as part of their initial recruitment process. You may then need to attend an assessment centre or undergo telephone or video interviews before reaching the final interview stage.
Learn more about how to apply for an apprenticeship.
Find out more
- Search business apprenticeship opportunities.
- Gain an insight into the business, consulting and management sector.