ICB works with employers and training providers to deliver three accounting apprenticeships - Payroll Administrator, Assistant Accountant and Accounts & Finance Assistant

Looking to expand your bookkeeping practice?

Want an employee who knows your business like the back of their hand, someone who makes sure payday goes without a hitch? Then it looks like you could use an ICB payroll apprentice! We spoke to MBKB, two-time winner of the LUCA Award for Apprenticeship Training Provider of the year, to get the latest scoop on payroll apprenticeships.

Apprentices typically spend four days a week in the office and one day away on government-funded training. The apprentice gets to learn invaluable skills in a job they’re passionate about whilst earning a salary and qualifications. Your business benefits from a tech-savvy and eager-to-learn employee whom you can shape into the perfect member of your team. 

ICB is the UK’s leading end-point assessor for Level 3 Payroll Apprenticeships, with over 90% of the UK’s payroll apprentices completing their payroll apprenticeship through us in 2021. 

‘Being an apprentice has been a rewarding experience and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my payroll knowledge and confidence grow. I am now coming towards the end of my Level 3 Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship, and I am looking forward to finishing it and moving on to another challenge. I am excited to see what my career has in store for me’.  

 - Emma Saggers, Senior Payroll Administrator and LUCA Award winner of Apprentice of the Year 

Payroll Apprentice

Why should bookkeepers and small businesses take on a payroll apprentice?

Taking on a payroll apprentice benefits both the employer and the apprentice. The employer gets government-funded training for their employee and the apprentice gets to earn whilst they learn. Whether you’re employing someone new in their first roleor upskilling an existing employee, the goal of an apprenticeship is to create a work and learning experience that develops both the employee and the wider business.  

So, why take on a payroll apprentice? An employee who ensures all workers are paid correctly and on time is an essential part of a business. Through their training, payroll apprentices become experts in their field. They have a well-rounded understanding of all the key elements, from leave allowance to pensions, accounting tech, and more. Therefore, by hiring a payroll apprentice you’ll be adding a vital and motivated member to your team, with the added benefit of government funding! 

“Our partnership with the ICB ensures that the apprentice is competent and efficient. The end-point assessment for the Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship is very robust and there's a lot of support materials from ICB with the mock versions which really help make sure the apprentice is ready and going to pass.” 

- Mark Bremner, Director of MBKB Training

How does an apprenticeship work? 

An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training from the employer, and ‘off-the-job’ training delivered by a training provider during your apprentice's normal working hours. 

Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their working hours completing off-the-job training. 

Training could take place: 

  • Online 

  • At the apprentice’s place of work 

  • With a training provider or at a college 

The frequency can vary, for example: 

  • One day a week 

  • Part of a working day 

  • Blocks of time 

For instance, some apprenticeships begin with a block of training to get the apprentice work-ready. 

You can agree on a suitable training schedule to suit the needs of your business with your training provider. 

What funding is available for apprenticeships? 

If your business spends less than £3 million a year on wages, you’ll get 95% of apprenticeship training costs paid by the government. You’ll also receive an incentive payment of £1000 for hiring an apprentice: 

  • aged 16 to 18 years old 

  • aged 19 to 24 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority 

You can find a training provider on our website here or give us a call so we can talk you through it. Your chosen training provider will oversee all contact with the government to get the funding on your behalf, and you’ll just pay them the 5% leftover. 

How is ICB involved in Accounting Apprenticeships? 

ICB acts as an End-Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) for accounting apprenticeships. This means we write and deliver the exams that apprentices take at the end of their training. 

ICB is an EPAO for these three accounting apprenticeship standards: 

Training Providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations must be approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) and it’s up to the employer to choose which organisations are the right fit for them. 

By choosing ICB as your End-Point Assessment Organisation for apprenticeships in payroll and accounting you will benefit from flexible, remote-invigilated exams and robust quality assurance. As a professional institute that’s been supporting payroll and bookkeeping professionals for over 25 years, we pride ourselves on raising the standards and the reputation of the profession. 

Payroll Administrator Level 3 Apprenticeship Route

“Working with ICB is a truly effective partnership, it’s refreshing to know that ICB is very responsive and proactive in developing added support materials and resources that are openly shared with training providers to make sure we’re all working towards the same aim, which is to make sure apprentices are extremely efficient and qualified. 

- Mark Bremner, Director of MBKB Training 

ICB membership exemptions for apprentices: 

Once your apprentice has completed their end-point assessment in any of the three ICB-assessed standards, they will be eligible for exemptions from the ICB professional qualifications so they can become an ICB member straight away. 

With ICB membership your apprentice will have access to our technical, tax and legal support lines, as well as three monthly technical webinars including a payroll update presented by leading payroll expert Ian Holloway. 

Apprenticeship ICB Qualification Exemption available Membership eligibility
Accounts/Finance Assistant (Level 2) Level 2
Certificate in Bookkeeping
Associate (AICB) 
Assistant Accountant (Level 3)

Level 2
Certificate in Bookkeeping
and partial exemption from
Level 3
Certificate in Bookkeeping and Accounting

Associate (AICB) with a fast-track route to Member (MICB) after one further on-demand bridging exam
Payroll Administrator (Level 3) Level 2
Certificate in Payroll Administration
Payroll Agent


Build future-ready skills with apprenticeships

This year’s national apprenticeship week theme is Building the Future. Payroll is essential to every business and it’s an area that’s constantly moving forward in terms of new legislation and practices.  

“The apprenticeships that we carry out with the ICB are fluid, not only in the training but also the assessment that ICB does. It’salways developing to make sure it's 100% relevant and current. In terms of building the future, what we're doing is building a payroll workforce that doesn't just understand the base requirements but also that these things move, change and develop. They also know through CPD with us and with ICB they can ensure they're always kept abreast of changes even post-programme.” 

- Mark Bremner, Director of MBKB Training 

How well-rounded does the apprentice become after their Level 3 Payroll Assistant Apprenticeship? 

Once the level 3 Payroll Apprenticeship has been completed, employees will have excellent working knowledge of the job together with an understanding of how to keep themselves up to date. Mark Bremner compares the apprenticeship and end-point assessment to a driving licence.

It’s a very rigorous apprenticeship and EPA (End-Point Assessment), I compare it to a driving licence, once you’ve got someone who’s completed their payroll apprenticeship certificate you know they do the job. It’s not just theory, it’s not just technical, you know they’ve been there, and demonstrated competency and relevancy over a period so you can put your faith in them to be a highly effective payroll administrator. 

- Mark Bremner, Director of MBKB Training 

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I chose to do an ICB apprenticeship to further my knowledge and understanding. Jo Burke, Assistant Accountant
Read Jo's apprenticeship story