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Should my child do an apprenticeship or a degree?

Some apprenticeships are the same level as a degree so the choice between the two is not always clear cut.

Choices after a Level 3 qualification

If your son or daughter has just completed a Level 3 qualification at a school, college or sixth form and is uncertain whether to choose a degree at a university or college or an apprenticeship, there are a number of factors to consider.

The most important factor when considering these options is what your son or daughter would like to do as a future career. An apprenticeship will train them for a job - so they need to have a reasonable idea that that is a job of interest to them. On the other hand a degree in any subject is attractive to employers, so if your son or daughter is less sure what job or career they want to do, and have a subject they would like to study in depth at a higher education level, this could be a good route for them.

Also, they will need to decide if they like the idea of earning a wage, being in an adult environment, and ‘learning by doing’, which is what apprenticeiships offer. Or are they more tempted by opportunities to continue to study a subject in depth, potentially move away from home and experience ‘student life’?

Ultimately, if they know the career direction in which they want to head, they need to have researched the best way to get there and compared the pros and cons of choosing the degree or apprenticeship route.

Apprenticeships can be at degree level

In some cases apprenticships lead to a university level qualification. Higher Apprenticeships are now offered in a number of subjects including Human Resources, Digital Marketing, etc. and can go up to Levels 4, 5 and 6 (an honours degree is Level 6). You can see all qualifications and their levels in a table by following this link.

There are also new Degree Apprenticeships in some subjects, find out more here.

There are also 1000s of degree courses, offered at both colleges and universites.

Careerpilot has lots of information about apprenticeships, including Higher and Degree Apprenticeships and also Higher Education.

With so many choices is is crucial that your child has researched their career ideas to ensure they have chosen the best route for reaching their goals. For example, if your child wishes to become an engineer, do something in legal services or become a manager then a Higher Apprenticeship is a fantastic route into these careers.

Some jobs require specific degrees

On the other hand, some careers require specific degrees from university study. For example medicine – to become a qualified doctor you need A levels and have a medical degree. It’s not possible to learn surgery through an apprenticeship!

Apprenticeships are not the easy alternative to going to university though. There are some very competitive apprenticeship programmes, with tough application processes and lots of competition. An apprenticeship is ultimately a job and your son or daughter will need an up-to-date, professional CV, to have identified employers they wish to apply to, and have good interview and employability skills. Most colleges have teams who are able to support young people with this.

To find out more about entry routes into different careers you can explore the Careerpilot Job Sectors, where you will find links to hundreds of job profiles which explain the possible routes into them.  

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