What is the difference between an Advanced & a Higher Apprenticeship?

  • Emma Finamore
  • Last updated 09 Jan 2020

Compare and contrast Advanced Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships, to see which programme is best for you.


While Advanced Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships both offer paid, work-based experience alongside training and qualifications, there are some key differences. They should not be viewed as separate from one another though: Advanced Apprenticeships are a great way to build towards Higher Apprenticeships.

Advanced Apprenticeships: qualifications & pay

First of all the qualifications on offer are different: Advanced Apprenticeships offer work-based experience alongside training at Level 3, completing an Advanced Apprenticeship is the equivalent to gaining two A-level passes. Higher Apprenticeships are the next step up, leading to a Level 4 (or above) qualification – the equivalent of a higher education qualification.

Even though both Advanced Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships are paid, because Higher Apprenticeships are a step up, apprentices on those schemes can expect a little more in terms of wages. For example, some companies offer £23,000 a year for their three-year Higher Apprenticeship programmes, while an Advanced Apprentices at will be paid around £15,000.

This is because Higher Apprentices tend to hold more qualifications (or those of a higher academic standard) than Advanced Apprentices. Generally, to be eligible to do a Higher Apprenticeship you must have either completed an Advanced Apprenticeship or hold five or more GCSE grades (A*-C) or equivalent, or but that’s not always the case – some employers will require applicants to have A-levels too, for example 300 UCAS points from three A-levels (not including General Studies).

Advanced Apprenticeships: entry requirements

Generally, to be eligible to do an Advanced Apprenticeship you must have either completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship or hold five or more GCSE grades (A*-C), making them more accessible to potential apprentices than Higher Apprenticeships might be.

The opportunities you can access are also different on Advanced Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships. As Advanced Apprenticeships have been around for longer, there are more opportunities out there. Higher Apprenticeships are slightly less well-established, so you might be limited with options in some areas. For example, in Arts, Media and Publishing there are currently 15 official frameworks (developed by the government) for Advanced Apprenticeships; in comparison, there are just four frameworks established for Higher Apprenticeships.

Again though, these shouldn’t be seen as separate routes, more like complementary ones, in the same way that GCSEs often act as a stepping-stone onto A-levels, Advanced Apprenticeships are more wide-ranging and act as a stepping stone onto more specific Higher Apprenticeships. 


Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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