The benefits of doing a physics apprenticeship

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Jul 13 2023

How can I secure a physics career? Many aspiring physicists assume that the only way to do so is by going to university. However, university is not for everyone, and completing a physics apprenticeship is a great way to enter the field.


What is an apprenticeship?

If you don’t know much about apprenticeships, here’s a rundown. Apprenticeships are programmes which combine work experience and education. Apprentices are employed by a company, and spend the majority of their time working with them, receiving paid work experience. They are treated like any other contracted employee, receiving sickness pay, a holiday allowance and other benefits.

Alongside their job, apprentices spend a portion of their time (at least 20%) in education. This can be at a university, a college, a specialised training institute or even your place of work. 

There are four different types of apprenticeships:

  • Intermediate - Level 2: equivalent to GCSE’s or National 5s
  • Advanced - Level 3: equivalent to A-levels, Scottish Highers or Leaving Cert
  • Higher - Levels 4 & 5: equivalent to a foundation degree
  • Degree - Levels 6 & 7: equivalent to a bachelor’s (Level 6) or master’s (Level 7) degree

Now you know what an apprenticeship involves, here are some of the benefits…

Earning a salary

Apprentices are treated just like any other contracted employee, meaning they receive a salary. 

The exact salary you’ll receive as an apprentice depends on your age and experience. 

If you’re aged 16-18, you’ll earn a minimum of £5.28 an hour. Those aged 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship will earn the same. Once you’re 19 and over and have completed your first year, you’ll earn at least the National Minimum or National Living Wage. Currently, this is £7.28.

It’s also important to keep in mind that many organisations pay their apprentices much more than this, especially high profile organisations. You’ll even be paid when you’re at training. For example, Rolls Royce’s degree apprentices earn £19,000 a year, which works out at about £9.13 an hour.

No university debt

Another financial benefit of a physics apprenticeship is no university debt. Even if you’re doing a degree apprenticeship, the cost of your qualification will be covered, thanks to government funding and the apprenticeship levy. Companies who have an annual wage bill of more than £3 million contribute to a government fund for apprenticeships.

This means that no apprentice has to worry about paying off their student loans, and it makes getting an education accessible to many more people. This is especially true for postgraduate study.

Unlike university students who have to deal with student debt, and finding a part-time job to support themselves, apprentices don’t have these same concerns. This means you can focus on your education and career without worrying as much about finances.

Exposure to the working environment

As an apprentice, you’ll be working full-time for an employer. This will allow you to gain not only technical and practical experience, but also what the working world is like. For example, you’ll learn how to deal with coworkers you don’t get along with, how to develop a good work-life balance and how to communicate with senior colleagues. It’s rare for an apprentice to be fired (although not impossible!) so you’ll have space to make mistakes and find your way.

Many employers choose to employ their apprentices full-time once their apprenticeship has finished. Even if yours doesn’t, you’ll have an excellent resume when you start applying for roles. You’ll have years of work experience on your CV, showing employers that you have practical skills and can conduct yourself professionally.

Where can I find physics apprenticeships?

Take a look at the UK government’s apprenticeship websites. These sites advertise vacancies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can also check AllAboutSchoolLeavers, the Planet Possibility job board and the websites of companies you might be interested in.