Making the most of your Apprenticeship wages

If you are considering becoming an Apprentice but held back by the Apprentice wage, we have a couple of considerations for you and ways to help you make the most of your salary. 

The thing is to remember an apprenticeship is more than a job. As an Apprentice, you are gaining a qualification which is a standard set by employers in their sector. So, in the future, when you go for interviews, you will have the skills, knowledge and qualifications that your prospective employer is looking for.

When you consider that University fees and the cost of living while studying can cost you £80,000 over 3-4 years plus your time to study, you might think that Apprentice wage is not so bad, and consider a well-used business term - ROI.  

For your Return On Investment, a simple sum could be: - 

Your Time + Small Wage = Debt-free Qualification, Skills & Experience

Or you could look at the facts provided by The Sutton Trust, which notes over the longer term: -

  • Those who opt to study for a Level 5 higher apprenticeship will earn an estimated £1.5million during the course of their career, almost £52,000 more than graduates from non-elite universities.
  • The earning potential of an advanced apprenticeship at Level 3 is slightly better than that of someone whose highest qualification is at A-level.
  • A higher apprenticeship at Level 4 and an undergraduate degree from a non-Russell Group university result in similar lifetime earnings on average. But with an Apprenticeship – there will be no debt to repay once you start earning more money.

We are by no means saying that University is not the way to go; for some careers, a university degree is necessary. 

But, if you have decided to think of your career in the longer term and are clear about the value of Apprenticeships, here are some tips for managing the short term:-

Budget - Calculate your outgoings, for example:

Example Apprentice Budget (Weekly)

Rent/Board                         £50

Food                                   £20

Clothes                               £10

Travel (bus or rail tickets)    £20

Phone                                 £10

Total Wage                       £161.25

Regular Expenses               -£110

Disposable Income          £51.25

Be Smart

There are loads of spending apps and online bank accounts to help you manage your money. Money-saving websites that will give you a list of the best options for bank accounts and saving as well as and purchasing and discount tips, we've noted a few below: -

  • The Santander 123* student account gives accepted full-time students and apprentices a guaranteed £1,500 overdraft in years one to three. You also get a four-year 16-25 Railcard (worth £90ish) which gets you a third off rail travel
  • Bank of Scotland offer Cashback on certain purchases
  • NatWest is offering a Taste card
  • If you don't want to change banks, you still get 30% off travel through an Apprentice Oyster Photo Card
  • Monzo, Emma and Plum are all smart accounts where you set budgets and manage to spend but also helps you manage subscriptions to stop you from overspending.

Make the most of rewards and discount cards:

  • TOTUM is a new App from the National Union of Students (NUS); you can download student coupons, vouchers and discounts for food, fashion, music, mobile and tech
  • Ask your employer if they do a Cycle to Work scheme to save on travel costs and get fit at the same time
  • Sign up for certain loyalty cards; supermarket cards give you points that you can put towards days out; the leading coffee shops all offer points toward complimentary drinks
  • Many fashion brands offer discounts for Apprentices and Students
  • Don't forget Voucher sites where you can get free trials on products and services, but do remember to stop them before you have to commit contract

If you're considering an Apprenticeship but have concerns financially, remember that not all employers pay the minimum wage.  Depending on your course, in most cases, it's for a shorter time than University, and you will be up to a higher salary quite soon. 

When you are 19, if you have served as an Apprentice for one year, you will move the minimum wage according to wage currently: -            

23 and over        21 to 22                18 to 20                Under 18              Apprentice until ages 19

£8.91                     £8.36                     £6.56                     £4.62                            £4.30

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to certain benefits. Turn to Us has a calculator that can help you know if you can claim. The MAS can also help with questions about managing money.

Aspire to Learn have lots of Apprenticeship vacancies with many great employers right now, ranging from Cyber, Tech, Business, Social, Health and Child care, Sales, Project Management, Social Media, Sales, and Marketing.  If you would like to apply for an Apprenticeship, find out more you can do so here, where you can also see some reviews from our Aspiring Apprentices



Information correct as of 18th May 2021


21 May 2021