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NMBA Answers Your Apprenticeship FAQs

NMBA Answers Your Apprenticeship FAQs

Going to university is no longer a pre-requisite to having a successful career in financial services. There are lots of alternatives to studying for a degree which employers value, such as hiring an apprentice. Here, NMBA answers common questions about apprenticeships.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship combines practical on the job experience with a relevant financial services qualification and is a great way to earn money while you learn.

You’ll spend 80% of your time working in a real business, building up experience and boosting essential soft skills, from how to behave in a professional environment, delivering excellent customer service and managing your workload, to being a punctual, reliable employee.

The remaining 20% of your time will be dedicated to your studies and achieving a formal qualification.

Upon successful completion of your apprenticeship, you’ll have both business experience and a relevant qualification which should put you in strong position in helping to secure a permanent position.

What are the different types of apprenticeships?

As well as apprenticeships in financial services, you can apply for an apprenticeship in a range of roles from child care development and carpentry, to accounting, business, banking, and finance. You can search online at

Who pays for an apprenticeship?

Your employer will pay for your apprenticeship and will usually receive government funding to do so.

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Can anyone apply to an apprenticeship?

Whether you’re just leaving school or you’re working in a completely different sector for now, if you’re 16 or above and live in England, you can apply for an apprenticeship.

Depending on your chosen course, there may however be some entry requirements such as GCSE’s (A – C), or the equivalent, in English, Maths, and Science.

What should a person look out for in an apprenticeship? has clearly outlined their expectations on what a good apprenticeship should look like, which you can read in full here.

To summarise though, here are five key things to look out for:

  1. It should tick off the basics, such as offering relevant on-the-job training and designated time to learn, while meeting the legal and contractual requirements of an apprenticeship.
  2. Before you begin, your apprenticeship should clearly outline what skills you’ll be learning throughout and the knowledge required to meet these professional standards.
  3. There should be someone in the business who is skilled in this area and can support your learning and development.
  4. Training must be provided by a training provider or college on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.
  5. You’ll be assessed at the end of the apprenticeship to determine whether you’re competent to perform in the occupation you’ve chosen.

How long do they generally last?

As with all new skills, it should take time to master it and so, your apprenticeship should last at least 12 months. However, don’t be surprised as some can take between 18 months and 2 years, while others can last for 5 years.

What are the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship?

There are several benefits to undertaking an apprenticeship such as:

Earning money while you learn

Being paid a salary will give you financial independence as you train towards your chosen career.

Avoiding high tuition fees

Current university fees for the UK are £9,250 per year, which a majority of students take out a loan to cover. In 2017, it was reported that UK students leave university with some of the highest levels of debt compared to the rest of the developed world, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Gaining relevant job experience

With an apprenticeship, your qualification will be supported by relevant on-the-job experience, which employers often look for and is something many university graduates don’t have.

Developing excellent time management skills

Going down the apprenticeship route is not an easy way out. In fact, it takes a lot of determination and successful personal time management to balance working a minimum of 30 hours a week and studying on top of that.

Are there any drawbacks to undertaking an apprenticeship?

Just as university may not be for everyone, an apprenticeship may not be the right route for all career paths. Here are some potential drawbacks of an apprenticeship:

Does your career require a degree?

Some financial services employers might require a degree for certain roles.

Apprenticeship salary vs graduate salary

Currently, the apprenticeship minimum wage is £3.90. That’s not to say all employers pay this; it’s just the minimum requirement for those under 19 or in their first year.

In your second, this rises to £6.15 for those aged 18 to 20, then to £7.70 for 21-24 –year-olds, and then £8.21 if they are over 25. All About School Leavers suggest the average apprenticeship wage is around £170 per week.

In comparison, Save The Student reported in November 2019 that the average UK graduate salary was around £23k. This can vary widely due to factors such as location and size of employer.

Part-time education vs full-time education

As we’ve already mentioned, learning a new skill takes time and commitment. With an apprenticeship, it could take longer to complete as you’ll be studying on a part-time basis, compared to if you remained in full-time education.

Is there more than one type of apprenticeship?

Yes. You can study for a Level 2 Intermediate Level Apprenticeship which is equivalent to five A* GCSEs. A Level 3 Advanced Level Apprenticeship is equivalent to two A-Levels.

A Level 4, 5 and 6 Higher Apprenticeship is the equivalent of a Foundation degree, and there are also Level 6 and 7 Apprenticeships that are equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

What rights do apprentices have?

As an apprentice, you’ll have the same rights as any other employee. That includes, for example, being entitled to paid leave. You can expect to have at least 20 days’ holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

For more information on apprenticeships, please visit

More about NMBA

At NMBA, our commitment is simple. We’re a not-for-profit dedicated to improving access to and the quality of financial advice. We deliver this through three initiatives including financial education for young people, supporting those currently in the advice profession and our apprenticeship scheme.