Become an apprentice

To apply for a higher level apprenticeship you must have a job and your employer must be willing to support you to undertake an apprenticeship in a subject that's relevant to your job.

A higher level apprenticeship offers an alternative route to getting a university degree. To take part in a Higher Level Apprenticeship programme you need, as a minimum, to be:

  • a school leaver aged 16 or over
  • eligible for your selected programme
  • employed or be about to take up paid employment as an apprentice, or an existing employee with a private sector company based in Northern Ireland.
  • work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes time for ‘off-the-job’ training)
  • have achieved all necessary entry qualifications determined by the relevant sector
  • pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector
  • be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland

Other types of apprenticeships

If you're not eligible for our Higher Level Apprenticeship programme because you're in school or you don't have a job, you can get more information about other apprenticeships by visiting these websites:

Frequently asked questions

  • What are higher level and degree apprenticeships?

    Higher level and degree apprenticeships are work-based training programmes designed to help you gain paid practical experience at the same time as studying for a university level qualification. You'll be an employee, and with the support of your employer can study on one of our higher level and degree apprenticeships. So you get to work, earn, learn and progress at the same time.

  • What's the cost of higher level and degree apprenticeships?

    For you as an apprentice there's no cost to do a higher level or degree apprenticeship. You'll be paid as an employee of the company you're working for as well as receiving a university education that is paid for by the Department for the Economy.

  • How do I become an apprentice?

    If you're interested in becoming an apprentice you should apply for a job with an employer who is offering a degree apprenticeship opportunity. These can be found at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/search-apprenticeship-opportunities or by looking at websites such as www.nijobs.com or www.jobfinderni.co.uk both of which operate an apprentices category or apprenticeship intermediaries such as https://www.workplus.app/ or by contacting employers directly.

    If you already have a job you can talk to your employer about the possibility of undertaking an apprenticeship and if they aren't aware you can let them know what's available. We can help and will be happy to come and meet you and your employer. We can advise on eligibility for funding as well.

  • Can I apply directly to university to do a higher or degree apprenticeship?

    You can only apply to the university once you are employed or have a confirmed offer of apprenticeship employment. Your employer has to be willing and able to support you throughout the duration of your apprenticeship.

  • When do I decide? Can I apply for UCAS as well?

    You do not have to decide immediately what is the best option for you and can apply for  full-time higher education (through UCAS) and an apprenticeship with an employer. This lets you keep your options open until you decide.

  • Is there a higher or degree apprenticeship for me?

    Higher and degree apprenticeships are created with employers and then approved by the Department for the Economy. We currently have Degree Apprenticeships in these areas:

    • Accounting with Management
    • Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences
    • Business Technology
    • Business in Technology (Masters)
    • Computing Systems
    • Civil Engineering
    • Construction Engineering & Management
    • Financial Technology

    Global Capital Markets (Masters)

    • Leading Customer Operations
    • Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
    • Quantity Surveying
  • What will it be like to study as an apprentice?

    There are many similarities with traditional full time study – the course content may be similar and you will be part of a group of learners that benefit from each other’s support and the university’s experts and facilities. Higher and degree apprenticeships are taught a little differently though. As well as being offered the knowledge and skills you’d expect from a high quality degree, we also support you to maximise the impact from your study and your work place – together. Assessments can include reports, problem solving activities, presentations and in-company projects – all ensuring that you're able to integrate your academic study with on-the-job training.

  • How often do I attend University?

    Degree apprenticeships are work-based qualifications, which means that much of your learning is done in the workplace, however you are likely to spend one day a week undertaking off the job learning at University. Some degree apprenticeship programmes may require you to be in University for blocks of study.

    Check our Apprenticeship programme descriptions for the details on your specific course.

  • How long does a higher and degree apprenticeship take?

    Each degree apprenticeship programme may be different, it also depends on the qualifications you already have. The minimum length of an apprenticeship is two years (if you already have a foundation degree), the average duration is four to five years.