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Higher apprentices were launched in 2009 and they are the only apprenticeship that lead to a Level 4 qualification or above. As with other apprenticeships, they offer you a mix of on and off-the-job training, however they are designed to delve deeper into your specialisation, equipping you with more advanced level skills and qualifications. In many cases, they offer another (albeit sometimes longer) route to gaining a university qualification.

Higher apprenticeships are available at a range of levels, from the equivalent of a Foundation degree (level 4) to a Bachelor’s degree (level 6) and in the future a Master’s degree (level 7). 

There are currently 47 higher apprenticeships available, ranging from Aerospace to Accountancy, Construction to Creative and Digital Media, and the range of higher apprenticeships reflect numerous sectors and represent hundreds of different job roles. However, the number of higher apprenticeship frameworks are growing, so watch this space! - in 2012/13 almost 10,000 learners started a higher apprenticeship in England, representing a growth of 165% on the previous year. 

Higher entry requirements are needed to undertake a higher apprenticeship, representing the nature of the work and the qualifications you’ll gain at the end of it. In this way, higher apprenticeships generally require level 3 qualifications for entry, including BTECs level 3, A-levels or an advanced apprenticeship depending on what sector you are looking to enter and the experience and skills you are required to have. 

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, depending on the level you acquired, you may be able to top-up your university qualification to a full undergraduate degree or pursue a Master’s degree, or a relevant professional qualification. 

If you are under 19 you’re entitled to the National Apprentice Minimum Wage, however once you are over 19 you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage. However, many employers will pay higher apprentices more the the National Minimum Wage, as they require greater skills and knowledge. 

Small, medium and large companies all offer higher apprentices and you can search for vacancies in the same way, through the Government apprenticeship website

How a higher apprenticeship will benefit you:

  • the potential to achieve graduate and postgraduate-level qualifications whilst learning and earning in a real business
  • the chance to gain professional accreditation and membership
  • a unique, new way of developing professional-level, job specific skills while remaining in employment and earning a salary
  • no debt via student loans as the Government has announced an additional budget to fund the higher education qualifications that make up a higher apprenticeship
  • new opportunities for career progression
  • a clear pathway to achieving your ambitions in the workplace, plus higher earning capacity, recognition and status
  • recent reports estimate that completing a Level 4 higher apprenticeship could result in increased lifetime earnings of approximately £150,000