Higher Apprenticeships: options

  • Emma Finamore
  • Last updated 09 Jan 2020

You can do a Higher Apprenticeship in loads of different industries. Check out a few of them below... 


Accounting apprenticeships 

You don’t need to go to university to get a great job in accountancy, there are many accounting apprenticeships available at the Higher Apprenticeship level, as part of the government’s business, administration and law apprenticeships framework.

Running a business involves a lot of financial activities, from expenses and bills to taxes and payroll. Accounting is a highly skilled profession, with accounting staff working at many different levels.

Accountancy Higher Apprenticeships: qualifications

Those completing a Higher Apprenticeship in this field can progress to full membership of the Association of Accounting Technicians. You could then complete a professional accountancy qualification with a chartered body.

This progression can lead to a specialist role in accounting. It’s also possible to enter a higher education course in a subject related to accounting, banking, insurance, or other financial services.

Accountancy Higher Apprenticeships: jobs 

Those on Higher Apprenticeships could train in roles like accounts manager and accounting technician.

Apprentices who qualify as accounting technicians might work as accounts assistants, credit control clerks, accounts clerks, or finance assistants, all helping accountants to keep financial records and prepare accounts.

Accountancy Higher Apprenticeships: skills 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Balance accounts
  • Process invoices and payments
  • Complete VAT returns
  • Help prepare financial statements and reports
  • Handling banking and petty cash

Accountancy Higher Apprenticeships: career progression

Through an accounting Higher Apprenticeship you could not only gain full-time employment, but maybe enough qualifications to do a Degree Apprenticeship in accounting. Degree Apprenticeships are available in accountancy, business, finance and law, and finance and accountancy.

Depending on the programme, those moving on from their Higher Apprenticeship in the accounting industry could also gain enough qualifications to do a school leaver programme in a related job, if they wanted to pursue one. There are school leaver programmes available in jobs such as trainee tax assistant, trainee accounts assistant and consulting.

Business apprenticeships 

You definitely do not need a degree to enter the world of business. Business apprenticeships are available at Higher Apprenticeship level, and help you train for the industry without incurring any university debt—in fact, you’ll be paid a full-time wage.

The following apprenticeships sit within the government’s business, administration and law apprenticeships framework.

Business and administration Higher Apprenticeships

Administrators handle the day-to-day tasks in an office and make sure things run smoothly. This sort of work requires a strong sense of responsibility, accuracy and attention to detail.

This covers roles that involve organising people and resources such as executive assistants, secretaries, administration assistants, data entry clerks and office juniors.

As a business and administration apprentice, your exact duties will depend on your employer but could include responsibilities such as typing up board meeting documents, putting financial information together in spreadsheets, sending the daily post, and faxing and photocopying confidential documents.

Those on business administration Higher Apprenticeships could train in roles like:

  • Office manager
  • Administration team leader
  • Personal assistant
  • Business development executive

Management Higher Apprenticeships

Good managers are essential to the success of any business, so the skills gained on this apprenticeship are transferable and valuable across a range of sectors and job roles. On a business management Higher Apprenticeship, you could fast-track yourself to some impressive positions, without student debt.

A Higher Apprenticeship in management includes training in an exciting range of skills:

  • Informing strategic decision making
  • Managing budgets
  • Planning and implementing change
  • Leading teams
  • Managing programmes of complementary projects

Those on business management Higher Apprenticeships could train in roles like manager, senior manager, head of department and even director.

As with all apprenticeships, business Higher Apprenticeships will involve a combination of paid work and assessed training, with a training provider such as a further education college, all while being paid a proper wage. 

Digital media apprenticeships 

There are many ways of getting into the exciting world of digital media without going to university: for those with A-levels or relevant Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships, a Higher Apprenticeship is one of them.

Digital apprenticeships: jobs

Creative and digital media Higher Apprenticeships cover roles in a range of fast-moving and exciting sectors, including digital, television, archive, animation, interactive media, film, photo imaging and radio.

Apprentices on these programmes develop an understanding of the end-to-end production cycle in relation to different platforms, for example: audio, visual, interactive and emerging technologies and post-production.

Higher apprentices could train as online community managers, managing online communities, forums and social media sites, as well as managing data used in online communities.

There are also Higher Apprenticeships available in user experience co-ordinator roles, professionals who conducting user testing, monitoring and managing data and usage of interactive products.

Those wanting to work more on the creative side of digital media could do a Higher Apprenticeship as a junior interactive product designer; designing interactive product content and the assets needed for these, including art design, copywriting for interactive products, and user interface design.

Higher apprentices could also train as junior interactive product developers – developing user interfaces and interactive products, using code, software, advanced programming languages, scripts and testing systems.

You could work in different genres like entertainment, drama, news and sport, and in different formats such as live, studio and online. You and your employer will be able to tailor your apprenticeship programme, selecting a combination of options.

Digital apprenticeships: career progression

Not only could a digital media Higher Apprenticeship get you a full-time job, but if on completion of your programme you want to continue your training, it could be enough to get you onto a related Degree Apprenticeship. 

As with all apprenticeships, digital media Higher Apprenticeships will involve a combination of paid work and assessed training, with a training provider such as a further education college, all while being paid a proper wage. 

IT apprenticeships 

There are many opportunities in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector at Higher Apprenticeship level. Here we’ve broken down some of the key roles and tasks you could do in information security Higher Apprenticeships and IT, software, web and telecoms professionals Higher Apprenticeships.

Information security Higher Apprenticeships

It’s becoming more important to protect the information of companies and consumers because so many industries like finance, retail and travel are online.

On a Higher Apprenticeship in information security you’ll gain qualifications and skills that enable you to effectively operate IT systems and develop your business and interpersonal skills, both vital to becoming an information security professional. You’ll be expected to work quickly, under pressure and to strict deadlines.

On these Level 4 information security apprenticeshipss you could train in roles like:

  • Junior ProMon or network engineer
  • Junior IA and cyber research scientist or engineer
  • Junior security engineer
  • Junior network security officer
  • Junior governance officer

IT, software, web and telecoms professionals Higher Apprenticeships

The IT industry develops computer solutions that help businesses and individuals become more successful in their work. IT professionals serve customers in all types of business. They could be developing software or websites, helping companies set up new systems, or training people to use their IT facilities.

As a Higher Apprentice, you’ll have the choice of focusing on either telecoms or IT. Telecoms covers broadband, mobile phones and satellite communications; it’s a fast-moving sector so you should have a keen interest in new technology. You’ll learn about things like customer care, system security, managing software development and basic IT applications.

As a Higher Apprentice, you could work as an IT project manager overseeing the development of customer systems to meet a client’s business needs, or you could work as a network or telecoms manager, managing network growth and development, and supervising technical staff.

You can train in roles like:

  • IT project manager
  • Analyst developer
  • IT service manager
  • IT security analyst
  • Network/telecoms manager

As with all apprenticeships, IT Higher Apprenticeships will involve a combination of paid work and assessed training, with a training provider such as a further education college, all while being paid a proper wage.

Law apprenticeships 

A Higher Apprenticeship in legal services means that, for the first time, people in England are able to follow an apprenticeship pathway to becoming a qualified fee-earner or "paralegal" within the legal sector. From there, progression to qualified lawyer status (solicitor, barrister or Chartered Legal Executive) or even a judge is possible.

Law Higher Apprenticeships: entry requirements

This Higher Apprenticeship will take 18 to 30 months in most cases. Although some A-level school leavers will start on the Higher Apprenticeship, many higher apprentices will have completed one or both of the other legal apprenticeships—Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships.

Law Higher Apprenticeships: training

The legal services Higher Apprenticeship covers tasks such as assisting trained lawyers to handle their casework and in some situations, dealing with clients yourself. Those on Higher Apprenticeships might be working in criminal prosecution, civil litigation, employment law, family law, property, or maybe even working for private clients.

Higher apprentices could train in roles like senior paralegal, senior legal officer, fee earner, or litigation executive in commercial litigation. Commercial litigation involves virtually every type of dispute that can arise in the business context, including breach of contract cases, partnership/joint venture disputes, class actions, business torts, civil RICO claims, breach of fiduciary duty allegations, and shareholder issues.

A paralegal performs a complementary role, carrying out the course of action suggested by a lawyer, such as interviewing witnesses, researching questions, and completing and filing legal documents.

Higher apprentices could also train as a senior paralegal, senior legal officer, fee earner or litigation executive in debt recovery and insolvency, or on the behalf of a defendant or claimant.

Law Higher Apprenticeships: career progression

The advantages of doing apprenticeships in law are wide-ranging. Legal apprentices will gain a wealth of real work experience (apprenticeships are real jobs with additional training and assessment) which puts you way ahead of your peers in terms of experience. It also suits those who like to learn by doing rather than a more theoretical, academic approach.

Retail management apprenticeships 

There are many apprenticeships available in retail management at the Higher Apprenticeship level, so you can train to get straight in at the top of retail without having to go to university – and get paid a full-time wage.

Retail management apprenticeships: career progression

Research has shown that retail employers actively use apprenticeships as a source of future talent in retail management. Retailers are keen to make a long-term commitment to their applicants.

Retail is a sector that rewards dedication and hard work with quick career progression.

This is especially the case with younger people, with individuals in their late teens and early twenties often finding themselves in positions such as section or team leader.

A Higher Apprenticeship—a Level 4 qualification—in retail management is a fantastic apprenticeship in terms of career prospects: around 400,000 new supervisory and leadership employees are needed every year.

The problem facing many retailers is trouble with finding staff with the right level of skill and ability to manage a team or store, and effectively drive up sales.

The retail management Higher Apprenticeship is especially suited for management positions and hopes to provide apprentices with the business and managerial skills they need to progress.

Retail management apprenticeships: jobs

Higher apprentices in retail management can train in roles like:

  • Retail supervisor
  • Team leader
  • Store/department manager
  • Sales manager
  • Assistant store manager
  • Operations manager

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