As an apprentice, you can expect to work in the region of 30 hours per week, plus a day of study – in line with the government’s guidelines for apprentice work hours.

But the specifics will be decided between you and your employer in your contract of employment, just like any other job.

You should expect to receive two key documents.

An apprenticeship agreement which will outline:

  • the length of time you'll be employed
  • details of the training programme
  • working conditions and benefits
  • the specific apprenticeship standard you'll complete

Jessica, apprentice at Co-op

You’ve got to be strict with yourself. You’re allocated 20% of study time, which is really important, and it’s for the benefit of the company, as well as you and the company.

A commitment statement which will outline:

  • planned content and schedule for the training (i.e. a day per week to study/block study)
  • the qualification you will achieve
  • what you should expect from your employer and training provider
  • how to resolve any queries or complaints you may have

In a typical week, you’ll spend four days at work and one at university, college, or a training provider. And the same goes for all levels of study

But not every employer is the same:

How will my time be split between work and study?

Your employer will either want you to study for one day each week – known as day release – or alternate weeks of work with a full week of study – called block release.

It sounds trivial, but the difference can impact your experience quite a bit. Especially if your employer and place of study are far apart, meaning you may have to juggle your accommodation or do a bit of sofa surfing.

Martha, apprentice at Co-op

I won’t lie, it can be difficult managing work and study. For me, I have to plan everything from work and study to my social life – but there’s plenty of support if I need it.

How else might my lifestyle be different?

It’s no walk in the park juggling a full-time job and studying towards a real qualification. So you’ll have a few less duvet days than a conventional student.

But aside from needing to be organised and self-motivated, you’ll be immersed in a work environment that you’ve chosen because it interests and excites you. And you’ll be surrounding by likeminded people.

So, although you might be setting your alarm a little earlier than your peers, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get up and going.   

How long does an apprenticeship last?

The length of an apprenticeship differs depending on the level of qualification you’re working towards and the field you’re working in.

You could be in for anything from one – six years, working for anyone from a small local business to the NHS.

Read our guide to apprenticeship lengths to give yourself a rough idea before you start searching. 

Fliss Miller, employer at NTU

I think people who are switched on will gain from a Degree apprenticeship significantly. It’s a very, very different experience – a great experience.

What about part-time apprenticeships?

As a part time apprentice, you’ll work fewer hours over a longer period of time. A degree apprenticeship might last four – six years instead of the usual three – five.
Just how many will need to be negotiated with your employer, but most offer enough flexibility to work around your other life commitments.  

Everything you need to know about part-time apprenticeships

What’s different with a degree apprenticeship?

In terms of work hours, there isn’t one.

But as the difficulty of the study element increases, you may find yourself needing to spend some of your free time in the library instead of the pub.

But the same goes for all degree routes.

There are many ways in which a degree apprenticeship differs from a traditional degree, and we’ve outlined the key ones in our guide to degree apprenticeships.

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

Go to Career Finder