How to find an apprenticeship

There are lots of accountancy and bookkeeping apprenticeships available to choose from, which range from level 2 to level 7. You need to find the level that suits you and this can depend on whether you are at the start of your career, want a change of career direction, or if you are returning to work after a break.

Details of all current and forthcoming Apprenticeships can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) website via the following link

Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Your starting point to finding an apprenticeship should be:


At any one time there are between 12,000 and 20,000 apprenticeship vacancies available online. You can search by keywords and by location. Some employers also advertise vacancies on their own website, so if you know any employers locally that you feel you would like to work for then check out their sites. Other useful places to search would be your local job centre, recruitment agencies such as Reed or Indeed or by searching on

Entry requirement

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16. You can become an apprentice as long as you are not in full time education, living in England and, for the duration of the apprenticeship, you spend at least 50% of your working hours in England. As an apprentice you will work alongside experienced staff, gain job-specific skills, earn a wage and get holiday pay, and be given time to study related to your role.

Entry requirements differ for each Apprenticeship Standard and these requirements must be achieved prior to taking the End-Point Assessment (EPA). The EPA is provided by an independent End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) who will be chosen by your Employer at the early stages of your apprenticeship. This can be a joint decision between Employer, Training Provider and Apprentice. The chosen EPAO must be on the Register of End-Point Assessment Organisations and approved to deliver the EPA for the Apprenticeship Standard you are working towards. The up-to-date register can be accessed here:


The ICB is an EPAO for the following apprenticeship standards:

· Level 2 Accounts/Finance Assistant

· Level 3 Assistant Accountant

· Level 3 Payroll Administrator

The equivalent educational level for a Level 2 standard is GCSE.

Prior to taking the EPA for Level 2 Accounts/Finance Assistant, apprentices are required to have achieved Level 1 English and maths along with one of the following:

For the L2 Accounts/Financial Assistant:

· AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2)

· ACCA Certificate in Financial and Management Accounting (level 2)

· IAB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping

· ICB Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping

The equivalent educational standard for a Level 3 standard is A level

Prior to taking the EPA for Level 3 Assistant Accountant or Level 3 Payroll Administrator, apprentices need to have achieved Level 2 English and maths.

These is a minimum of 12 month duration for all apprenticeships. Apprenticeships can last between 1 and 6 years depending on the level of apprenticeship and the sector or career path you are working in.

The role of the employer

Whether your employer is a large corporate or a small/medium organisation, they will have an essential part to play in delivering your apprenticeship programme and supporting you throughout. As well as off-the-job training (provided by your training provider) you will receive on-the-job training from your manager and other work colleagues.

Wherever possible, in addition to your line manager, you should also have a workplace mentor. Your mentor should be a colleague who you can talk to in confidence about your apprenticeship, and who should support you to raise concerns or make suggestions to improve your experience. In very small organisations, it is sometimes not possible to do this. In these circumstances, you should raise any worries, ideas, or issues with your training provider.


The role of your training provider

Your training provider has a key role to play in providing off-the-job training, assessing your progress towards achieving your required knowledge, skills and behaviours, any EPA entry requirement qualifications and supporting you generally during your apprenticeship. They work closely with your employer to ensure that you receive:

*An induction programme on starting.

*A detailed training plan (including on-the-job training).

*Regular progress reviews.

*Opportunities to put into practice your off-the-job learning, so that you can achieve your qualifications/requirements of the apprenticeship.

*Mentoring and general support throughout your apprenticeship.

This will all be documented in a commitment statement that is part of the Apprenticeship Agreement. This is an individual learning plan that your provider, your employer and you will all sign up to.

Once you have completed at least 1 year and 1 day of your apprenticeship, you will be eligible to enter through Gateway. In apprenticeships, Gateway means the door between the on-programme learning and being ready to demonstrate competence in the role you have been working in throughout your apprenticeship. Gateway will happen when your employer, along with yourself and the training provider, agrees that you are ready to undertake the EPA to prove you are competent to carry out the role you have trained for.

EPAs can take a wide range of forms – it can include assessment methods such as an observation in the workplace, synoptic multiple choice questions and written tests and interviews. Each Apprenticeship Standard is accompanied by an Assessment Plan. The Assessment Plan prescribes the assessment methodology that must be used in the EPA and the EPAO must produce the EPA in accordance with this plan


Your employment status as an apprentice

An apprenticeship is a real job. You will sign an apprenticeship agreement. In most cases this will be directly with your employer, but in some instances, it could be with an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA). The ATA then acts just like a legal employer and the contract of employment will be with them. You can check the ATA on the national register.

You must have a contract of employment which is long enough to complete the apprenticeship successfully. The apprenticeship should come with a job title and your employer must provide appropriate support.


What will you be paid?

Starting salaries for apprenticeships are variable and dependent on a number of factors, such as:

*The level of apprenticeship you apply for.

*The sector you are working in.

*The type of employer you are working for, eg an SME or large corporation, public or private sector.

The National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £3.90 per hour, but many employers pay more than this. This rate applies to apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year of their apprenticeship. Please refer to the Employer section below or the FAQs for further information on hourly rates.

The National Minimum Wage for apprentices usually changes annually on the 1 April.

You must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage rate for your age if you are an apprentice aged 19 or over, and have completed your first year.

See our FAQs for current rates.


Holiday entitlement

Your holiday entitlement will be clearly written into your contract of employment. As a minimum you should get at least 20 days paid holiday per year plus bank holidays. You can use the holiday checker on GOV.UK to check your minimum holiday entitlement.


Minimum & maximum working hours

The minimum duration of each apprenticeship is based on you working 30 hours a week or more, including any off-the-job training undertaken. You must work enough hours each week so that you undertake sufficient, regular training and on-the-job activity.

The time spent on off-the-job training must be at least 20% and should be included as part of your hours. Your employer must allow you time to complete your apprenticeship within your working hours. Under current regulations young people aged up to 18 can work for a maximum of 40 hours per week and not more than 8 hours per day. Those over 18 have maximum working hours of 48 hours per week, but they can sign an agreement with their employer, should they wish to opt out of the protection of the legislation.



An apprenticeship takes between one and six years to complete. The duration of an apprenticeship depends on age, prior skills, apprenticeship type/level, and sector.

You can also complete an apprenticeship working part-time.

The EPA cannot be undertaken until the apprentice has completed at least 1 year and 1 day of their apprenticeship. Each Apprenticeship Standard provides a guide as to how long the apprenticeship should take to complete.


*Many thanks to The National Apprenticeship Service for their help in putting together this guide.


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