What is the difference between an Intermediate Apprenticeship & higher-level apprenticeships?

  • Emma Finamore
  • Last updated 09 Jan 2020

Explore the differences between Intermediate Apprenticeships and the higher-level apprenticeships above them: Advanced, Higher and Degree Apprenticeships. 


Intermediate Apprenticeships are the first level of apprenticeship. An Intermediate Apprenticeship is equivalent to five good GCSE passes. Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as an NVQ Level 2, Key Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification such as a BTEC.

Intermediate Apprenticeships: entry requirements

As the first level, Intermediate Apprenticeships are open to people with less academic qualifications than higher level apprenticeships. Employers might ask for two or more GCSE grades (A*-C) or equivalent. For some intermediate apprenticeships, however, you might not need any formal qualifications. If you don’t have GCSEs in English and Maths, though, you’ll usually be required to take a basic numeracy and literacy test. As part of the intermediate apprenticeship, you’ll then either take a GSCE qualification in English or a Functional or Key Skills qualification at either Level 1 or Level 2.

Other apprenticeship qualifications

Advanced Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships all require more than Intermediate Apprenticeships. Advanced Apprenticeships, for example, generally require applicants to have either completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship or hold five or more GCSE grades (A*-C) or equivalent.

Intermediate Apprenticeships: industries

As the most well-established, and popular, level of apprenticeship, Intermediate Apprenticeships are offered in the widest range of industries, unlike Degree Apprenticeships, for example, which were only launched in 2015. Intermediate Apprenticeships are available in:

Construction, Planning and the Built Environment
Leisure, Travel and Tourism
Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care
Arts, Media and Publishing
Business, Administration and Law
Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies
Retail and Commercial Enterprise
Health, Public Services and Care
Education and Training
Information and Communication Technology

The qualifications you can achieve on an Intermediate Apprenticeship are also different to higher-level apprenticeships. Intermediate Apprentices work towards Level 2 qualifications, where Higher Apprenticeships, for example, lead to a Level 4 or above qualification – the equivalent of a higher education qualification. Degree Apprenticeships lead to full bachelor’s or master’s degrees – Levels 6 and 7 qualifications.

Intermediate Apprenticeships: work experience

Intermediate Apprenticeships are great for getting paid workplace experience, and for enabling apprentices to move on to the next level, progressing up the apprenticeship food chain. 

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