As the world becomes ever more digitally focused, digital apprenticeships have increasingly come to the fore as a way for companies to bridge the digital skills gap. The UK is a global leader in the technology sector, but many companies are getting left behind. Without an optimised website and a strong social media presence, it is hard for businesses to compete.
That’s where digital marketing comes in. Digital marketers help create and improve website content, use social media for meaningful client interactions and brand awareness, and ensure companies are pitching the right message to the maximum number of target customers.
Unfortunately, the number of digital marketing jobs available exceeds the supply of suitable candidates. The best digital marketers already in the workplace can choose where to work and gaining a fresh supply of candidates is a slow process. Employers cannot afford to wait to only hire recent graduates, even if they could, the digital world is so fast-moving that it’s entirely possible that the knowledge acquired from three years of university has now changed. A digital marketing apprenticeship can bridge that gap.
Apprenticeships allow the apprentice to learn the latest techniques and apply them to the company they are working for immediately, thereby improving the company’s digital offering.
What is a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is defined as an arrangement that allows you to ‘learn and earn’ at the same time. You will learn on the job, developing key industry skills and getting paid a salary, while studying for a qualification related to your role. The company running the apprenticeship benefits by paying you a smaller salary than a fully qualified worker would demand in your role, while also investing in your future, hopefully engendering your loyalty to the company.
Digital marketing apprenticeships can be offered in a wide range of organisations, from media & PR to charity organisations or big corporations. Since marketing is crucial to the success of any business, a digital marketing apprenticeship can cross industries. This is good news for digital marketing apprentices who should end their apprenticeships with transferable skills.
Since ‘digital marketing’ is such a broad term, an apprenticeship could cover everything from copywriting and user experience design to SEO, social media management, and more.
Digital marketing apprentice jobs often vary day to day. The role may involve ‘grunt work’ to ease senior staff’s workloads, or be given more responsibility depending on the size and needs of the team. The apprentice may spend a specified period with each department within the company, or shadow and report to one line manager.
Depending on the size of the company, an apprenticeship might even focus on what core part of digital marketing. For example, a social media apprenticeship might focus solely on the commercial aspects of paid social media advertising or creating viral brand content for Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
So how do you land a digital marketing apprenticeship? Well, firstly, you must meet the minimum entry requirements.
Entry Requirements for a Digital Marketing Apprenticeship
There are different levels of apprenticeships, and the entry requirements differ accordingly. Apprenticeships begin at Level 2 (Intermediate) and go up to Level 7, which is the equivalent of a master’s degree. No one seems to know why Level one was dropped, but Level 2 is equivalent to five GCSE passes.
If you are a school leaver who wants to do an Intermediate Apprenticeship you must be 16 or older and are likely to need basic maths and English GCSEs or equivalent. However, some companies may be willing to let you study for such qualifications alongside your apprenticeship, depending on the circumstances. Level 3 (Advanced) is considered to be equivalent to two A-Levels, Level 4 (Higher) is equivalent to a foundation degree and Levels 5 and 6 are equivalent to full degrees. Once you get past Level 2, entry requirements vary at the discretion of the company.
Apprenticeships will always state their entry requirements, so just be sure you can evidence you meet them when you apply.
Digital Marketing Apprenticeship Vs Digital Marketing University Courses
There are significant financial and expediency advantages to choosing a digital marketing apprenticeship over a digital marketing degree. Most notably, you will be earning a salary on an apprenticeship rather than paying to study for a degree. For example, At the University of Westminster, tuition fees for Digital Marketing BA (Hons) are £9,250 per year for a three years course, so £27,750 in total.
Of course, you can get a job whilst at university, but it is unlikely to be linked to your course and will probably be minimum wage due to being part-time. On the other hand, you shouldn‘t have to start repaying your student loan until you are earning your predicted wage.
Then there are those three years. As mentioned, it’s entirely possible for some of what you have learned on your course to be outdated by the time you graduate and enter the working world. You will spend three years being trained how to work in digital marketing, but you won’t have any real-world digital marketing experience. A digital marketing apprentice, on the other hand, will have spent those three years working in the industry and gaining valuable experience.
According to Glassdoor, the average UK salary for a digital marketing university graduate (after 5 years) is £33,500, while the average base pay for a digital marketing apprenticeship (after 5 years) is £36,370.
In theory, your degree will make you a specialist, thereby securing you a higher salary, but in practice, you may need to build up your experience by taking lower-paid positions.
However, an apprenticeship is not always the right choice for everyone. Some people find it difficult to study and work at the same time. Others will crave a ‘university experience’ and may want to restrict their searches to only degree level apprenticeships.
There are pros and cons to both and ultimately you need to decide which pathway is best for you.
Top Companies Offering Digital Marketing Apprenticeships
You will find many of the top digital marketing apprenticeships in London, although if you are not based in the Capital, it is worth searching companies to see if they have apprenticeship programmes based elsewhere in the country. A few of the top companies offering digital apprenticeship programmes in the UK include:
Amazon offers 18-month long Level 3 digital marketing apprenticeships based in London. To be accepted, you must have two A-Levels (or equivalent) grade C or above, with one in English Language, the other can be in any other subject. Alternatively, you must have or be studying towards a Level 2 qualification of 120 credits or more. You will work full-time office hours and your training will be workshop-based. At the end of the programme, you should have earned a Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing; Access to join as an Affiliate (Professional) member of the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and/or Associate membership of BCS Recognition for entry to the Register of IT Technicians.
Google offers Level 3 digital marketing apprenticeships all over the world, including the UK. Applications open in November each year, and successful candidates become the autumn intake the following year. The apprenticeships can last between 15 and 24 months. Entry requirements seem quite flexible: “Strong academic performance at any level of education or transferable experience, with a focus on subjects/fields that are relevant to the apprenticeship you are applying for” but you must provide a cover letter detailing your reason for apply, answer questions or complete an aptitude test.
BT might not be the first company you think of with regards to a digital marketing apprenticeship, but the communications company was ranked fourth in the Government’s list of the top 100 apprenticeships employers in 2020. The last BT digital marketing degree apprentice role advertised was Level 6 and saw the successful candidate working with both the marketing and sales teams and being taught specific and transferable skills such as delivering customer campaigns. The entry requirements were four GCSEs C or above and three A-Levels of BCC or above.
Specialist digital marketing training providers
You can find information about digital marketing apprenticeships on company websites, or you can look to specialist providers, such as QA, which offer a digital marketer Level 3 15-month apprenticeship. Here you will learn practical skills including analytics and relationship marketing, and should leave with the following qualifications:
- BSC Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship
- Principles of Coding (BCS KM1)
- Marketing Principles (BCS KM2)
- Google Analytics IQ
Entry requirements are three GCSEs of D’s or above, including C or above in Maths and English Language.
Similarly, Multiverse is a company that has partnered with General Assembly to offer an ‘industry-leading’ 18-month long Level 3 digital marketing apprenticeship covering everything from SEO to growth hacking.
If you are interested in landing a digital marketing apprenticeship, you should research the company thoroughly and ensure you meet the requirements. Be aware that applying and meeting the requirements does not automatically mean you will be accepted, particularly where competition is high.
For more tips and tricks on how to land your dream apprentice position, check out our ultimate guide.
For more guides, news, jobs and advice, check out our weekly newsletter.