How To Become an Apprentice in 3 Simple Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 January 2023

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming an apprentice is an excellent opportunity to learn valuable skills, gain work experience and achieve qualifications whilst also being paid for your work. Deciding to pursue an apprenticeship can be a great first step towards building your ideal career, as it allows you to build your expertise directly in the field. Understanding the steps that becoming an apprentice involves can help to inform your application process. In this article, we consider what apprentices do, what an apprenticeship is and which steps you can take to become an apprentice.

What does an apprentice do?

Apprentices are new professionals in their chosen field who learn while working in a full-time position. Apprentices can work in a variety of industries, so the daily tasks of an apprentice can vary depending on their chosen career path. However, they typically complete entry-level work while training to develop the skills needed for more complex tasks. Examples of apprentice duties include:

  • Apprentice hairdressers may wash hair, keep the salon tidy and take payments.

  • Construction apprentices may perform basic labour, such as loading and unloading vehicles with materials.

  • Apprentice journalists may conduct research, take notes and write content.

  • Accounting and finance apprentices may pay bills, generate invoices and provide administrative support to the accounting and finance team.

In addition to their own duties, apprentices often spend time shadowing senior staff members, attending training sessions and completing assessments. Some apprenticeships take place entirely at the apprentice's place of work, while others might require apprentices to attend college or university as well.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships can be a great first step in starting your chosen career. They are paid jobs that allow apprentices to learn skills, attain qualifications and gain experience in their field. There are varying levels of apprenticeships available, depending on an individual's previous experience and qualifications. Apprenticeship levels and their equivalent qualifications include:

  • Intermediate is the equivalent of a GCSE qualification.

  • Advanced is the equivalent of an A-level qualification.

  • Higher is the equivalent of a foundation degree or above.

Some degree-level apprenticeships and apprenticeships offer other qualifications, such as diplomas, upon completion. The duration of an apprenticeship will vary depending on the industry and level, however, it's typically between one and five years.

Read more: Higher Apprenticeships: Everything You Need to Know

How to become an apprentice

There are a variety of apprenticeships available depending on your chosen career path, qualifications and previous work experience, so it can be helpful to tailor your application to the industry and level of apprenticeship you're applying for. The following steps outline the general process to become an apprentice:

1. Research apprenticeships in your area

One way to find the best apprenticeship for you is to research what career paths are available in the industry you would like to work in, as having an idea of your long-term career goals can help you decide the right apprenticeship for you. Apprenticeships are available within a broad range of industries, including:

  • Construction

  • Accounting and finance

  • Hair and beauty services

  • Engineering and manufacturing

  • Arts, media and publishing

  • Retail

  • Hospitality

  • Health and care services

When you have an idea of which industry or career path you might like to pursue, you can search for apprenticeships online or contact your local colleges to discuss their apprenticeship options. While some apprenticeships are completed entirely in the workplace, some offer blended learning with part of your studies taking place at college or university.

Related: How to Choose a Career Path

2. Complete and submit your application

Much like any other job application, apprenticeships require applicants to submit a CV and cover letter. Employers may also request additional documentation to ensure you meet both their own and their partner training provider's requirements. Documents that may be requested include:

  • Professional CV: If you have some work experience, be sure to include this in a professional CV format. However, if you don't have work experience, you can tweak your CV to highlight academic achievements and any extra-curricular responsibilities.

  • Cover letter: Your cover letter should express why you want the apprenticeship, what skills you can bring to the role and what your long-term career aspirations might be.

  • Certificates for qualifications: It's common for apprenticeships to require copies of any qualifications you hold. These certificates can take some time to obtain, so it can be helpful to reach out to your school, college or university for copies ahead of time.

  • Personal and professional references: Much like any other job application, employers may ask applicants for a list of references. This could include previous employers or a teacher that can provide a character reference for you.

When applying for apprenticeships, it's often worth preparing the above documents in advance so that you have them available should employers request them. You might also consider applying to multiple apprenticeships at once to increase your chances of finding a suitable role. When waiting to hear from an employer, it can be beneficial to try to remain positive and continue applying for suitable roles in the meantime. If an application lists a closing date, it might be worth taking note of it so that you know when you're likely to hear back.

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter

3. Attend an interview

Should employers think you'll be a good fit for the apprenticeship based on your application, they'll reach out to schedule an interview. This is an excellent opportunity to tell employers more about why you would be a great candidate for the position and is also a chance to find out more about the apprenticeship. Interview formats can vary but you'll usually know ahead of time who you'll be meeting. Some common interview formats for apprenticeship positions include:

  • Telephone interview: This is an interview conducted over a telephone call and is usually a first-stage interview, typically followed up by an in-person interview.

  • Individual (face to face) interview: You may need to attend an in-person interview at the company's office. An individual interview could be with the hiring manager or a member of the recruitment team.

  • Panel interview: This is the same as an individual interview but with two or more interviewers. This could include a representative of the training provider, HR personnel or members of the team you'll be joining.

  • Virtual interview: Much like a telephone interview, this format allows interviews to take place remotely. There could be one or more interviewers in a virtual interview and they'll typically take place on a video conference call.

  • Assessment day: Some employers will arrange a day for a group of applicants to attend and complete a range of tasks, typically followed by an individual interview for candidates who impress on the day.

  • Group interview: Similarly to an assessment day, employers may invite a group of applicants to interview in a group format. They'll ask interview questions to the group and applicants will take turns to answer.

Regardless of the format for the interview, you can prepare to answer questions about your experience and skills relevant to the role. The more you prepare for an interview, the more confident you can feel in highlighting your qualifications. This can also be a chance for you to learn more about the position, so come prepared with questions for your prospective employer too.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

Additional tips for applying to an apprenticeship

The more research and preparation you put into your application, the more likely you might be to succeed in your apprenticeship search. The following tips can help you in your apprenticeship search:

  • Ask a friend or family member to review your application before submitting it, they can look out for spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Drop off your application in person if possible. Although office-based roles might not be open to the public, if you're applying for a retail or salon-based role stopping by to introduce yourself can leave employers with a positive first impression.

  • Dress professionally for your interview, even if the role you're applying for doesn't require it.

  • Share your long-term career aspirations with prospective employers. Telling interviewers that you've thought about your career goals can show them you're committed to the apprenticeship.

  • Send a thank-you email after your interview. A quick thank you can go a long way in ensuring interviewers remember you.

  • Wherever you are in your application process, it can be helpful to remain positive, as it can take some time to find the right apprenticeship.

  • When you are offered an apprenticeship position, keep an open mind to future opportunities that arise, as you may wish to pursue the next level qualification when your apprenticeship is complete.

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.


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