page title icon How much is an apprenticeship wage? (updated for 2021)

How much money will I earn on an Apprenticeship?

Money money money…

It’s the question everyone is too polite to ask, but it’s also a question too important not to answer!

One of the best things about being an apprentice is earning while you learn, so it makes sense that you’d want to know how much exactly can you expect to get paid as an apprentice in 2021?

Jump straight to your question:

Apprenticeship Wage

The apprenticeship minimum wage

Like every type of job in the UK, apprenticeships are governed by a national minimum wage.

The current minimum apprenticeship wage (2021) is £4.30 per hour. This is based on the national apprenticeship wage, which was last updated in the April 2021 budget by Rishi Sunak.

However, apprentice wages in the UK are also dependent on a few factors: This includes your age and how much of your apprenticeship you have completed.

Take a look at the table below for a full list of pay scales, depending on age and experience.

Age & Apprenticeship StageApprenticeship Wage (per hour)
Aged under 18£4.62
Aged over 18 (but still on the first year of your apprenticeship)£4.62
Aged 18-20£6.56
Aged 21-24£8.36
Aged 25+£8.91

As you can see from the table above, the national minimum wage for apprentices can vary. This can look a little complicated, but it’s easy enough once you know what to look for. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

I’m under 19 (or in the first year of an apprenticeship)

If you are under 19 (or over 19 but in the first year of an apprenticeship) you are entitled to the national minimum wage for apprentices – £4.15. This means your first year apprentice wage must be equal at least £4.30 (per hour) in order to comply with the law.

I’m aged 19 (or older) and on the second year (or more) of my apprenticeship

After a year, your situation might change. Once you are 19 or older and in the second year of your apprenticeship your pay switches over to now be governed by the national minimum wage.

For many apprentices, this can mean a significant pay rise after completing the first year of their scheme/course.


Still confused? Check out this handy government calculator


Earning more money

Now, you might be thinking: that doesn’t seem like very much, and, in part, you are right.

However, apprentice wages are lower than a minimum wage job because money is also being spent on your education, training and other subsidies.

Not all of the money being spent on your apprenticeship goes straight into your pocket. As well as paying your wage, employers pay your training costs, licenses, and examination fees.

On the plus side, many employers choose to pay more than the national minimum wage for their apprenticeships.

Lots of forward-thinking companies have chosen to instead pay their apprentices the national living wage, in order to attract the best and most talented candidates.

This means that their workers can enjoy a better standard of living during their training, and are more likely to stay with the company after their education is complete.

While an apprenticeship wage may start out low, the qualifications and skills learnt will increase your earning potential long term. In a lot of cases this means your pay will be higher than the industry standard by the time you have completed your scheme.

Apprenticeship Wage

Getting a pay rise as an apprentice

Pay is a tricky subject in any job, but for an apprentice, it can be particularly thorny.

Thanks to the apprenticeship levy and other training initiatives, specific funds are put aside to pay specifically for apprenticeships. Although this is great for increasing the number of great apprenticeship opportunities, it can make discussions around wages more difficult.

The good news is that there is nothing stopping you from negotiating a pay rise as an apprentice. If you are a good worker who is taking on more responsibility and adding value, then you are in a good position to ask for compensation to reflect your efforts.

That said, it is not recommended to begin an apprenticeship on a wage that you cannot live on. Even if you think you can negotiate your wage in the future, there are no guarantees and this can leave you in a bad position.

Apprenticeship wage structures

Thankfully, more and more apprenticeship providers are being up-front with their wage expectations, by listing their Apprentice salary structures on their vacancies and websites. This provides a framework to increase your pay based on specific requirements, for example, years of progress or qualification milestones.

As with everything, your wage structure will depend on the level of your apprenticeship scheme as well as the industry or sector. However, it is not uncommon for many higher and degree apprenticeships to offer starting wages that rival graduate salaries! This helps to attract talented school leavers who want to start working and earning straight away.

Money in the bank

Every apprenticeship is different, but it is reassuring to know that all apprentices are entitled to be compensated for their time and effort. It is important to remember that apprentices can complete their training without accruing any student debt, even sometimes gaining a degree in the process. in comparison, the average university debt is over £40,000.

For money-savvy job hunters, an apprenticeship could prove to be a fantastic investment.


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