AI Apprenticeships (A guide for 2024)

Although it is a relatively new phenomenon,  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is starting to impact more of our daily lives. The UK is regarded as a global leader in AI, credited with cutting-edge research and innovation.  

In 2022, the UK Government released its AI Action Plan, a ten-year plan to help the UK retain and strengthen its position as an AI and science superpower.

One of the ways they hope to achieve this is by investing £254 million in upskilling and educating via scholarship programmes, university courses and apprenticeships.  

Why You Should Take Notice of AI

From photography, film and TV, and social media to eco-friendly solutions, manufacturing and retail, AI has implications for a variety of industries. 

Government research estimates that around one in six UK organisations, (432,000) have embraced at least one AI technology. This breaks down to 68% of large companies, 33% of medium-sized companies, and 15% of small companies.

Unsurprisingly, IT and telecommunications boasts the highest AO adoption rate with 29.5%, just ahead of the legal sector at 29.2%

While AI adoption is in its early stages in many sectors (less than 12% in retail and hospitality), it is predicted to increase exponentially by 2030.

By completing an AI apprenticeship programme, you could upskill and get ahead of the curve. 

What is an AI Apprenticeship?

You may find an AI apprenticeship under a different title, such as one of the following: 

  • AI strategy manager
  • Artificial intelligence engineer
  • Artificial intelligence specialist
  • Director AI
  • Machine learning engineer
  • Machine learning specialist

It is a level 7 apprenticeship programme, equivalent to a Master’s degree. 

The programme combines practical hands-on experience and in-classroom learning. Apprentices will learn how to make critical decisions, develop their interpersonal skills and ability to strategise and develop the practical skills of an AI data specialist. Teaching the ethics and professional and legal aspects of AI is a significant aspect of the course.

How Long Does it Last? 

An AI Data Specialist apprenticeship typically runs for around two years (24 months).

What Are the Entry Requirements?

As this is a level seven programme, you can’t apply without prior knowledge and training. 

Routes into AI as an Apprentice

There are a couple of different routes into data science and AI apprenticeships, depending on your level of learning and experience in the field.

Level 3/4 Data Analyst Apprenticeships

One of the most popular ways of getting on an AI apprenticeship is to first complete a level 3 or 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship. Which one you apply for will depend on your experience and education level within the field. 

Employees in fields such as IT, HR, customer service and finance can apply for a level 3 data analyst apprenticeship. This is a flexible course designed to upskill employees and open up potential new pathways such as AI.

The programme lasts 18 months and is delivered by several providers across the country.  

For those who have completed level 3 or already work in data analysis, there’s a level 4 programme. 

The level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship lasts 21 months and combines workplace development, coaching and online teaching. Five modules are taught over 18 months, with the final three months devoted to prepping for the End Point Assessment (EPA). 

The full cost of £15,000 is paid for from the Apprenticeship Levy. 

Can I Study AI at University?

Yes, there are pros and cons to completing an apprenticeship versus studying at university, and it’s a personal choice. As of June 2020, university graduates can apply to study artificial intelligence and data science master’s courses at universities across the country. Scholarships are also available for eligible applicants (including female, BAME, and differently-abled candidates) in a bid to improve the diversity of future employees.

What is the Salary for an AI Apprentice? 

The salary will vary depending on the specific role, the company you work for and the location. For example, the average salary for AI related field workers in London is £45K – £84K with additional cash compensation. However, that is due to the higher cost of living in London.

Can I Get Funding? 

Yes, there is a maximum of £17,000 of Government funding available. 

Where Can I Find AI Apprenticeships Near Me?

As this is a relatively new apprenticeship programme, you may find you need to be willing to relocate or commute to study. 

At the time of writing, the Government website lists six locations for the level 7 AI and data specialist apprenticeship:

You can also find companies, such as Sage, offering AI apprenticeships on job sites. 

Which Job Can I Do After an AI Apprenticeship?

The skills and knowledge acquired in an AI Apprenticeship can lend themselves to several job roles, including:  

AI Developer – Design, develop and deploy algorithms and AI models to solve complex problems 

AI Ethicist – Understanding and advocating for the ethical implications of AI to ensure it is being used responsibly and in an unbiased manner

Data Scientist – Analyse and interpret huge amounts of data, extracting insights to make data-based decisions and develop AI models 

Machine Learning Engineer – Use data to create algorithms for machines to learn and improve

How Do I apply?

You can apply through the provider’s website, using the links above or through job search sites. Intakes are usually in September and January, but this may vary between course providers. 

For Employers: 

If you are looking to upskill employees in AI, you may benefit from the apprenticeship levy. Depending on the size of your organisation and whether or not you contribute to the apprenticeship levy, the Government may fund all or part of the apprentice’s training. Using funding from the apprenticeship levy, you can either employ a new AI apprentice or take on an existing employee as an apprentice. 

Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.

Reckon you know what you want to do, but can’t find the perfect role? Most companies hire their apprentices in a ‘recruitment window’. This means many great jobs are only available for a short time once or twice each year.

Sign up for our job alerts service, and we’ll send you any jobs that fit your search criteria.