Project Management Apprenticeships (the ultimate guide)

If you’re looking for a career that allows you to enjoy a varied workload and meet new people, project management could be ideal. The industry is bursting with opportunities for proactive and organised individuals making it one of the most popular career choices in the UK.

Better still, there’s always the possibility of working internationally. According to a 2021 report by Talent Gap, the global market will need 25 million project professionals and change managers by 2030.

Research by Glassdoor also states that the average salary for a qualified project manager is £48,445. As you can see, there’s never been a better time to invest in a project management apprenticeship.

In this guide, we’ll reveal what you can expect from a career in project management, how to find an apprenticeship provider, and some top companies you could apply for. Let’s dive in.

What does a project manager do?

While business managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company, project managers focus on – and take charge of – specific projects. Each project has an objective and strict budget that the manager must adhere to.

Project managers are found across a whole host of industries, from managing the engineering on a construction site, to ensuring a new feature is added to a company website or app.

A typical day for a project manager might include:

  • Risk analysis.
  • Delegating specific tasks.
  • Planning each stage of the project.
  • Encouraging teamwork.
  • Ensuring everyone stays on budget.
  • Dealing with problems as and when they arise.
  • Delivering the agreed-upon outcomes.

Many people who become project managers enjoy the planning and organisational elements of the role but also appreciate working towards a positive outcome and seeing the fruits of their labour.

Which skills do project managers need?

Along with planning and organisation, project managers need various skills to perform their job correctly. Luckily, you’ll learn all these skills during your apprenticeship. 

As project managers are usually responsible for all individuals working on the project, leadership and communication skills are essential. You’ll also have to stay calm under pressure and know how to delegate effectively.

Project managers often know a little about a lot of different things, so if you enjoy soaking up new information and being an all-round ‘generalist’, it could be your perfect job.

What is a project management apprenticeship?

In the past, the only route to entry for project management roles was to get a degree in management or a related field and work your way up. Today, apprenticeships provide a solution for individuals without a degree who prefer to earn while they learn.

When you begin an apprenticeship, you’ll work for a company in a trainee capacity. The great thing about this is that you learn from experts, and your employer pays for all your certifications.

These certifications will qualify you for future professional roles and open doors for further study into senior positions.

The Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship Standard

The general apprenticeship in project management is open to people who don’t have degrees. Most people study at Level 4 (which is equivalent to a Higher National Certificate or A-Level). 

Over 24 months, you’ll work in a professional setting, learning about project management and helping senior team members. On an apprenticeship you typically split your time 80:20 between work and study.

Depending on the provider and employer you choose, you’ll gain either a:

  • International Project Management Association (IPMA) Level D qualification.
  • Association For Project Management (APM) certification.

The entry requirements depend on the employer, but most will expect you to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades 4-9—some might also ask for 48 UCAS points. 

Project Management Degree Apprenticeships

If you’re looking to build a career in project management, a degree apprenticeship will set you up for advanced roles. Also known as a Level 6 apprenticeship, successful completion equates to a BS or BSc degree. This means you’ll earn a proper university degree, without any of the associated costs or debts.

While the general apprenticeship lasts two years, you’ll typically work towards your Level 6 project management qualification over four years.

It’s a great entry route and can prepare you for an impressive career. However, you’ll also need three A-Levels at grades A-C in addition to five GCSEs.

Upon completing the degree apprenticeship, you’ll receive an IMPA Level D qualification and a project management degree.

The big question: Why choose an apprenticeship over university?

It’s one of those decisions you’ll have to make at some point, but investing three to four years of your life (and getting into serious debt) isn’t for everyone. University involves a lot of academic study, including going to lectures and taking exams.

An apprenticeship could be the better solution if you prefer hands-on learning instead of sitting in lectures.

Here are some other reasons to choose an apprenticeship over university:

  • Gain Experience: A degree looks great on paper, but employers will always value experience.
  • Earn While You Learn: University puts you into debt, but a project manager apprenticeship would allow you to earn some money while gaining your qualifications.
  • Make Valuable Contacts: Today, a successful career is all about networking. When you begin an apprenticeship, you’ll have a head start on making these valuable contacts.

How to find project management apprenticeships

So, now you know more about project management apprenticeships, it’s time to decide whether it’s the right career path for you. You’ll also need to consider which field you want to work in, as it will influence future career choices.

For example, an IT project manager will have different experiences and responsibilities than a project manager for a marketing agency. 

That doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in the same field for your entire career, but finding an apprenticeship that matches your skills and interests is always best.

There are many ways to find the best apprenticeship for your goals, and it always helps to be proactive in your search. Make a list of the types of companies and industries you might like to work in, and check their career pages to find out if they have an apprenticeship recruitment window.

Another option is to look at the industry you’d like to work within and approach companies. For example, British Airways, Virgin Media, and the BBC accept applications for their project management programmes.

For degree-level project management apprenticeships, the UCAS website is a great resource that can signpost you to opportunities within your area.

The bottom line

Project management is a hugely popular field, with plenty of progression opportunities and fantastic earning potential. Choosing an apprenticeship in project management is a wise investment in your future, and the skills you’ll learn can be applied to numerous industries.

These apprenticeships are highly popular, so keep your eyes open and be ready to pounce on any opportunities.

You could soon be on your way to gaining valuable experience – and qualifications.