IT apprenticeships – your options at 18

Starting work in IT after sixth form – the options
You can start your IT career and earn while you learn through an apprenticeship. Many employers offering higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships for school leavers who have completed their A levels or Highers (or equivalent).

Apprenticeships are programmes where school leavers work towards qualifications while working full-time with an employer. There are a number of different levels of apprenticeship available, but higher and degree apprenticeships and most common in the IT and technology sector. To be eligible to apply you’ll typically need A levels or equivalent (eg Highers or the International Baccalaureate).

  • See our advice on how to get into a career in IT for details of the subjects and grades you’ll need to get onto an IT higher or degree apprenticeship.

Your employer will decide what and where you study and will pay your tuition fees. Typically, your workplace and your college/university will be in a similar geographical area and you will attend classes in ‘blocks’ (usually of one day a week, or a few weeks every few month). Though, this isn’t always the arrangement and apprentices will likely also have access to online learning resources and opportunities for study before assessments and exams.

What are higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are programmes that meet official standards set by the government to do with the training you receive and the qualifications you gain. As the name suggests, a degree apprenticeship will result in a bachelors degree or a masters degree. The qualifications that you gain vary from employer to employer.

Qualifications that you can gain through an IT apprenticeship can include:

  • An HNC (equivalent to the first year of a degree)
  • A foundation degree (equivalent to two-thirds of a degree)
  • A bachelors degree
  • A masters degree
  • An NVQ level 4
  • A City & Guilds level 4
  • A relevant professional qualification, such as the Association of Project Management (APM) level 4 or Cisco accreditation.

What types of job could I do on an IT higher or degree apprenticeship?

Many technology apprenticeships focus on the ‘technical’ side of IT roles. Many employers will offer ‘IT’, ‘technology’ or ‘digital’ apprenticeships that will focus on teaching apprentices IT support or software development/software engineering skills. There are also options for more ‘specialised’ job roles, such as data analyst, network engineer and cyber security engineer.

The role that you’ll take on during your apprenticeship will also depend on the employer you work for, especially as you can find technical apprenticeships in a variety of industries. For example, a software developer degree apprenticeship at an aerospace organisation is likely to be different from a software developer degree apprenticeship at a bank or financial services firm.

You may also be able to find more business-focused apprenticeships in the IT and technology sector, such as an level 4 or level 6 project manager apprenticeships.

Where in the country are IT higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships based?

IT higher apprenticeships and sponsored degree programmes can be found all over the country, not just in the big cities (though you’ll be sure to find opportunities across London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff). For example, if you want to work in Scotland you could work for Atos in Moray or Livingston (just two of its UK bases); if you’d like to be based in Wales, Capgemini has vacancies in Treforest, near Cardiff (among other locations). Or, in England, you could work in Aston, Leatherhead, Birmingham or Reading...

If your apprenticeship is not located near home, you’ll most likely need to relocate. Your employer may offer you support towards relocation, such as contacts for finding housing or monetary support (or, in some cases, you may be able to stay in employer accommodation). Keep in mind, your salary from your apprenticeship will help you pay rent. A typical apprentice salary will usually allow you to rent a room in a shared house or flat – although bear in mind that some part of the country are more affordable to live in that others.

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