As freedom looms, and we start to make more choices about our futures, many of us are considering a change of lifestyle or career. For those looking to retrain while still being able to work towards a well-paid job, an accountancy internship might be the answer…
How apprenticeships work
On an apprenticeship, you’re employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification (ACCA, CIMA or ICAEW) – usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre like Reed Business School. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.
You’ll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, such as business communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT programmes.
Length of accountancy apprenticeships
The length of your apprenticeship will depend on a number of factors, such as the level of the apprenticeship, employer requirements and your individual ability.
- advanced apprenticeships(equivalent to Level 4) are usually studied over two years
- higher and degree apprenticeships(equivalent to Level 7) take three-to-six years to complete.
Both will see you achieve a formal qualification from your chosen professional body, but it’s worth checking directly with your chosen employer before applying to check how long your course will last, as some won’t follow this structure.
Pay rates and working hours
For those aged 21 and over, you are entitled to minimum wage of at least £8.20 per hour while on your apprenticeship, though some employers will pay more. For more information on pay rates, see GOV.UK – Become an apprentice.
You’ll also be entitled to sick pay, any additional benefits your employer offers to its other employees, such as healthcare plans and childcare vouchers, and at least 20 days of paid holiday per year.
Working hours vary depending on your employer, but you won’t be able to work more than 40 hours per week or any fewer than 30. Typically, you’ll work between 35 and 37.5 hours per week. Most accountancy apprentices can expect to work something like 9am-5.30pm for four days a week, while you’re studying the other one day.
One of the key selling points of accountancy apprenticeships is that there’s no upper age limit to begin. As long as you’re over 16 and have the right credentials, you’ll be eligible to apply for your chosen apprenticeship. So if you fancy a career change in your 30s, 40s or 50s, an apprenticeship could be for you!
If you start your apprenticeship after you turn 19, you may be entitled to additional government funding. Find out more about what’s on offer at Student Finance England – Advanced Learner Loan.
As each type of apprenticeship offers a different-levelled qualification their entry requirements will vary. Generally speaking, they are as follows:
- For an advanced apprenticeship, you’re likely to be asked for prior work experience and at least three GCSEs or equivalent – such as an intermediate apprenticeship qualification.
- As higher apprenticeshipsare the equivalent of a foundation degree, HNC or first year of a Bachelors, you’ll usually need at least five good GCSEs, as well as some Level 3 qualifications in relevant subjects, to apply. Your Level 3 qualifications could be AS-levels, a BTEC National or a Level 3 NVQ.
- Degree apprenticeshipswill have the tightest entry requirements. These may include three A-levels in a specified grade range or a higher apprenticeship qualification, on top of at least five 9-4 GCSE grades. It’s also likely you’ll be required to have prior work experience.
You can apply for apprenticeships at any time of year – whether you’re successful depends on if an employer has a vacancy. You’ll be able to check the specific entry requirements of your chosen apprenticeship once the position opens.
Our top tips
Apprenticeships are not as easy as they might seem. Not only are you studying, but you’re also working 80% of a full-time role. You will need to study at the evenings and weekends. However, it does mean you can study without incurring student debt, earn a salary and have the advantage of several years’ work experience that your peers graduating from a traditional degree won’t have.
Look carefully into the study method and make sure you choose a course that’s right for you. Some will offer the opportunity for weekly face to face classes whereas others will be almost entirely online, and a range in between. At Reed Business School we offer a blended learning approach that prioritises our small class in-person teaching – a formula which sees our students achieve results well above the national average.
Be careful about where you do your apprenticeship. Try to find testimonials or speak to other apprentices at the organisation. The quality of employer support can vary hugely.
Want to find out more? Get in touch to see whether an accountancy apprenticeship with Reed Business School might be right for you.