The minimum duration by law is 12 months, but they can be anything up to six years if you choose to go part time.

Like any other course, the length of an apprenticeship depends on the field you want to work in and what level qualification you’re working towards.

No matter what, you’re committing to a specific career path – not just a subject area. 

So, you need to be sure that the programme you choose is really something you can see yourself doing long term, in an industry sector you want to explore. And not just the next sensible step.

Here’s how long you can expect each level of apprenticeship to last:


How many hours will I be working?

In a full-time apprenticeship, you’ll be working 30 hours a week, plus one day of study – either at university, college, or online.

But the specifics are down to the contract you draw up with your employer.

You may be asked to alternate three weeks of work with a week of study, which could have a knock-on effect for your social life and accommodation. Especially if your employer is some distance from your place of study.

So always double-check the job description and the location of the course provider. If it isn’t made explicit what your commute will be, make sure to ask in your interview.

Take a look at our full guide to working hours here.

Andrew, apprentice at Co-op

You’ve obviously got to put aside time and concentrate on the course. But if you manage yourself correctly, there shouldn’t be any issues. You’ll meet a lot of nice people from different businesses that you can meet up and share ideas with.

What is life like as an apprentice?

Most apprentices find that their ‘social life’ is a bit of a balancing act between hanging out with their workmates, and friends they meet through their course provider. Especially for degree apprentices who get to enjoy a slice of university life.

But don’t expect to have bags of free time. There’s a lot to keep on top of, with deadlines at work and in your study – plus all the usual life admin. You’ll naturally find yourself with less duvet days than a regular student.

But the trade-off is that you’re progressing in a career you’ve chosen, and learning a load of life skills that employers value. While some of your mates will still be wondering what to do next when they finish.

What if I change my mind half way through?

Changing your mind is a part of life, so if you don’t end up enjoying your apprenticeship like you thought you would – there are things you can do about it.

But unlike a traditional educational route, you’ll be acquiring very specific career experience – so at the point of looking to change direction, make sure you talk to an adviser or work mentor about all the options available to you.

So, to the very best of your ability, make sure you only apply for apprenticeships that really get you excited to start.

After all, this is your future we’re talking about. And a sensible career move might not feel so sensible if it doesn’t land you in a job you enjoy.

See if an apprenticeship is the right route for you.

Choosing the right apprenticeship.

Are apprenticeships the right path for you?

Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes but did you know that loads of famous people began their careers as apprentices?

Find out who

Sign up to Career Finder

If you think an apprenticeship could be right for you, head over to Career Finder and create an account. 

You'll be able to: 

  • search for all apprenticeship roles
  • filter by subject area, role type, location, and level of apprenticeship
  • shortlist jobs
  • sign up for alerts
  • keep tabs on applications you've made

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