What are sales apprenticeships?

7th July 2020 |   Journal Of Sales Transformation

In the UK, sales apprenticeships are programmes that allow people to study for a professional qualification while being paid and receiving on-the-job training. Sometimes, off-site classroom training is also involved.

Apprenticeships typically last one to three years.

They’re open to anyone over the age of 16 and not in full-time education. As there’s no upper age limit, apprenticeships can be a great opportunity for graduates or for those who are looking for a career change.

What’s my level?

Apprenticeships are divided into various levels:

  • Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2) – equivalent to five GCSE passes
  • Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3) – equivalent to two A level passes
  • Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 and above) – equivalent to a Foundation Degree
  • Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5-7) – equivalent to a Bachelors and Master’s Degree

The majority of professional sales apprenticeships are at Level 4 or Degree Apprenticeships (levels 5-7). Degree apprenticeships have been developed by partnerships comprised of professional bodies, employers and universities.

What qualifications do I need?

Each level has different entry requirements, and each apprenticeship vacancy will specify what these are, along with the qualities the employer is looking for. For Higher and Degree apprenticeships, employers generally ask for A levels and other Level 3 qualifications.

The level of apprenticeship you start at will depend on the qualifications you have, the job role, and apprenticeship standard the employer wants to use.

A Level 4 Sales Apprenticeship, available to school leavers, typically takes 18 months to complete and covers a wide range of personal and professional skills. Applicants will need to have achieved a Level 2 in English and Maths prior to taking the end-point assessment in their Apprenticeship.

The Miller Heiman Group and Mercuri International are two of the training providers now offering Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship training.

Candidates applying for a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship in Business-to-business Sales will usually have A levels (or equivalent) with a minimum Level 3 obtained in English, Maths and ICT at Level 2. This apprenticeship takes three years to complete, culminating in a Bachelor’s degree (Hons). It meets the eligibility requirements for Sales Certification with the Association of Professional Sales (APS).

If you’ve already obtained a university degree you can apply for a degree apprenticeship at either postgraduate level (in the same discipline as your degree) or at graduate level, if you’re looking at pursuing a different field to your degree.

During your sales apprenticeship, you’ll spend around 30 hours a week at work and one full day of study.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros: You can earn a salary whilst your employer covers the cost of your course fees. You also receive holiday pay and a debt-free qualification. Unlike traditional university degrees, you don’t have to pay tuition fees.

Cons: You won’t be receiving the full “uni experience” because you will spend the majority of your time at work. If you decide to leave your apprenticeship before it ends, you could be liable to repay some of the course fees paid by your employer. Note also that, like all jobs, you’ll have to pay tax if you earn over £12,500 per year.

Where can I find out more?

The best advice is to Google “sales apprenticeships” and see where it takes you. Many companies and recruitment consultancies list sales jobs with associated apprenticeship programmes. Note, however, that some may be more like internships and offer relatively low or even zero pay – in which case, keep looking as there are plenty that pay a decent starting salary.

Here are two examples of reputable sales apprenticeship schemes:

IBM: Global tech giant IBM offers an Apprenticeship in Technology Sales lasting three years, with a £20,000 starting salary

Pareto Law: A specialist in finding sales jobs for graduates, Pareto Law offers a Sales Executive Level 4 apprenticeship lasting 18 months, as well as an IT Technical Sales apprenticeship at Level 3, along with several others.