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Different levels of apprenticeships

Have you seen apprenticeship roles advertised at different levels but not sure what that means? This article breaks down each level and explains what you need to apply for them. We’ll also go over the different paths you might take as you progress in your apprenticeship and where to go next. 

If you have any questions, get in touch with us at Go Construct and we can help. Or, if you’re ready, apply for an apprenticeship and get started on your dream career in construction. 

Apprenticeship level equivalents 

Apprenticeship levels work slightly differently to typical academic levels. Where in academia you will take GCSEs, A levels or bachelor’s degrees, apprenticeships levels are ranked in terms of: 

Each has with a corresponding level number or numbers. The higher the number, the more difficult the qualification is. 

Here is a break down of each apprenticeship, its level, and what that equates to for an academic qualification: 



Equivalent Educational Level 




A Level 


4,5, 6 and 7 

Foundation degree and above 


6 and 7 

Bachelor's or master's degree 


You may also be wondering where qualifications such as an NVQ fit in. Most apprenticeships will normally integrate an NVQ qualification. Intermediate apprentices often work towards an NVQ at Level 2, advanced apprentices will work towards an NVQ at Level 3, and higher apprentices will work towards an NVQ at Level 4.  

Sometimes the levels of qualifications are slightly different in other countries. You can check what a qualification level means in the UK and rest of Europe here

Which apprenticeship level is right for me? 

Choosing the best apprenticeship for you will depend on your previous experience, level of education, and the type of job you see yourself doing in construction. You may be looking to change career and already have previous qualifications or transferable skills which will help you start at an intermediate or higher level apprenticeship straight away. Or, you may be starting fresh from school.  

You have a lot of options to consider, but don’t worry. Go Construct has a helpful guide on the different ways you can get into construction, plus all the fantastic benefits of taking an apprenticeship

How long does it take to complete each level of apprenticeship? 

An apprenticeship takes a minimum of one year but can take up to six years to complete, depending on its level. There are some factors that can influence how long an apprenticeship takes, such as your previous career or experience, or the type of role you are doing an apprenticeship for.  

What is an Intermediate Apprenticeship? 

Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2), apprenticeships are the equivalent to five GCSE passes. Intermediate apprenticeships usually take between 12 to 18 months to complete; split between 80% work and 20% study, although this can vary. 

You will study towards qualifications at the same level as five GCSEs, such as NVQ Level 2, and a knowledge-based qualification such as BTEC Diploma and Certificate, but this will be specific to the sector and job role you are an apprentice in.  

See first-hand what apprentices get up to

What qualifications do I need to apply for an Intermediate Apprenticeship? 

Entry requirements for intermediate apprenticeships vary. Some employers ask for two or more GCSEs, but you may not need any formal qualifications. If you don’t have English and maths GCSEs, you usually need to take qualifications in these subjects as part of the apprenticeship. 

What are my options after completing a Level 2 apprenticeship?  

After completing Level 2, you can go on to complete Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships. However, if the role you want does not require these, you can simply go on to work and gain more hands-on experience. There may also be other types of training or mentorship schemes available at your place of work, rather than formal study. 

What is an Advanced Apprenticeship? 

Advanced Apprenticeships (Level 3) are equivalent to two A level passes. If you already have Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, the Advanced Apprenticeship is a great way to gain practical, work-based skills and experience in a particular job and sector.  

You will mix your work with study time. Your employer may organise this as one day a week, or setting the study periods into blocks. You will complete your apprenticeship within two to four years.  

What qualifications do I need to apply for an Advanced Apprenticeship? 

Entry requirements vary, but typically you will need at least five GCSEs with grades 9 to 4/A* to C, including English and maths. 

What can I do after completing an Advanced Apprenticeship? 

You can choose to either go on to complete a Higher Apprenticeship, or begin putting your new skills and qualification to work. Not every role requires further study, or you may prefer to keep gaining hands-on experience for a while before doing another qualification. 

What is a Higher Apprenticeship? 

Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4) can be; an NVQ Level 4, a Higher National Diploma (HND), or foundation degree. Some offer the opportunity to progress to Level 7, postgraduate degree level. 

A Higher Apprenticeship can take up to five years to complete, and many higher apprenticeships have a permanent job waiting for you at the end. If the company doesn’t employ you after the apprenticeship, or you choose to look elsewhere, you will still be a highly employable candidate.  

What qualifications do I need to apply for a higher apprenticeship? 

Entry requirements for a higher apprenticeship may include at least five GCSEs grades A* – C (9 – 4 on the new grading system), including English and maths.

Employers may also ask for Level 3 qualifications, including A levels, NVQs, or a BTEC.  Some employers expect you to have studied subjects relevant to the apprenticeship, such as a science or engineering. 

I have completed a Higher Apprenticeship. What is next? 

After a Higher Apprenticeship, you can go on to complete a Degree Apprenticeship. These are similar to Higher Apprenticeships, but you can use this to gain a full bachelor's degree (Level 6) or master’s degree (Level 7).  

As with all the other apprenticeships, you work and study, although this time you study at a university. A Higher Apprenticeship takes around three to six years to complete, depending on the course level. They are currently only available in England and Wales, although applications can be made from all parts of the UK. 

Begin an apprenticeship in construction 

Construction apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get into the industry. We have all the information here for you to make a start, from what roles are available, to a personality quiz. These will help you find the best type of roles that suit who you are and how you like to work.  

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