Discover the best banking apprenticeships in 2024 | Work at a top UK bank (2024)

A banking apprenticeship provides the perfect entry route into the industry, as you study towards a professional qualification while getting to work for one of the UK's leading financial institutions

In the competitive world of banking, forging lasting relationships with both personal and business customers is just as important as being good with numbers.

So, if you have a genuine interest in people and the aptitude to learn about financial services and markets, the UK's major high street banks are always on the lookout for apprentices to work in their operational teams.

How does a banking apprenticeship differ from an internship?

Banking apprenticeships are formal arrangements where you'll be paid a salary and achieve a recognised qualification, while internships are typically short term.

Lasting between one week and a year, internships are more about gaining vital work experience in the financial services sector.

If you're already at university, it's worth doing a finance internship before you graduate.

What banking apprenticeships are available?

The majority of banking apprenticeships are aimed at those who've completed their A-levels, with the higher apprenticeship (Levels 4 and 5), equivalent to a foundation degree, being the most common type.

However, banking and finance degree apprenticeships (Level 6, equivalent to a Bachelors degree, and Level 7, equivalent to a Masters) are starting to emerge in this field.

You can read more about qualification levels in our apprenticeships section.

Which companies offer apprenticeships in banking?

The banking apprenticeship programmes offered by the main retail banks aren't just restricted to banking services, with finance apprenticeships covering a range of professions and business areas.

Here's what's available in 2024 from five leading graduate employers:

  • Barclays - if you've completed your GCSEs, there are foundation apprenticeships in coding (developer), customer service, cyber and security, human resources, operations, and technology, while those with A-levels can work towards higher/degree apprenticeships in many of the same areas plus compliance, corporate banking, data analytics, finance, internal audit, risk or user experience design.
  • HSBC - in addition to its foundation apprenticeships in digital experience and accessibility for school/college leavers, HSBC also offers four-and-a-half year banking degree apprenticeships. The programme involves several rotations across your chosen business area (wealth and personal banking or commercial banking) while studying towards a university degree.
  • Lloyds Banking Group - apprenticeships are available in nine areas: audit, business analysis, customer services, cyber, data, finance, HR, risk, and technology engineering. They range from intermediate (Level 2) to degree level (Level 6), lasting from one to three years.
  • NatWest Group - broken down by business function, their apprenticeships range from Level 2 to Level 6. You can choose to work as an apprentice in either business admin and project management, customer service, data, and insights, digital and technology, relationship management, or specialist business support. There's also the opportunity to apply for a 21-month Level 6 financial services degree apprenticeship.
  • Santander - ranging from Level 3 up to Level 6, apprenticeships are available in finance, economic crime, data science, technology engineering, fraud, and corporate and commercial banking.

In addition to what's available from these high street banks, the UK's central bank, the Bank of England runs an 18-month Level 4 apprenticeship development programme to become a business solutions expert, data analyst (both managed through JustIT) or an accounting professional (BPP).

The bank also offers 36-month degree apprenticeships in areas such as data science, digital and technology solutions, and the professional economist degree apprenticeship.

What do banking apprenticeships involve?

While the nature of each role will vary, you'll likely join a team within one of the bank's business functions, such as customer relations, specialist product sales, operations, risk or digital transformation.

For instance, you could be handed your own personal or corporate banking product portfolio and be involved with delivering solutions to clients. A high degree of flexibility is expected, and you'll need to be proactive in collaborating with colleagues.

Through the structured training, you'll be supported, as you learn and look to complete the qualification element of the programme (typically while on study leave). As with other apprenticeships, they vary from 12 months to six years in length, depending on various factors.

For example, the 33-month Level 6 corporate banking degree apprenticeship at Santander involves rotating across their relationship management, risk and operational teams, which are based across the country.

At Barclays, you'll work towards a degree (or professional qualification) for three to five years. This involves learning on the job, supported by a talent coach, while getting time allocated towards studying and attending university.

The Bank of England's Level 4 apprenticeships include sponsored training to achieve either the Level 4 ACCA (FIA), CIMA (Cert) or the ICAEW (CFAB).

Find out more about these qualifications and the professional bodies certifying them at accounting apprenticeships.

Whatever type of apprenticeship you're interested in, It's important to read through the specifics to find out exactly how the programme is delivered, and what you can expect to have achieved by the end of it.

Where are they based?

While it's true that the majority of banking apprenticeships will be located in the centre of London, where the main offices of the UK's leading financial institutions are typically based, you'll still find apprenticeship opportunities up and down the country.

This is especially true if you live near major cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester, as these finance hubs are home to many global banks and professional services firms.

For instance, those applying for Barclay's higher/degree apprenticeships can expect to work in either Glasgow, Knutsford, Leeds, London or Manchester depending on your area of specialism.

In addition to working for major banks, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also need to take on apprentices.

Visit GOV.UK - Find an apprenticeship to search for banking apprenticeships in your area.

How much will I be paid?

All apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate of pay or the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The former is currently set at £5.28 per hour (from April 2023), with the NMW £10.18 for those aged 21-22 and who've already completed the first year of their apprenticeship. If you're 23-plus, the National Living Wage (NLW) is set at £10.42.

However, you'll find that this is more of a guideline as some employers will offer a higher salary. For example, apprentices on Santander's degree-level finance apprenticeship (in 2023) benefit from a £21,000 starting salary with pay progression. At Barclays, they offer a permanent role with starting wages of £21,200.

The NatWest Group's data and insights apprenticeship commands a salary of £22,455 to £29,574, depending on your location and apprenticeship level.

For more information on apprenticeship pay, see GOV.UK - Become an apprentice.

How do I become a banking apprentice?

Employers will set out their own application timeframes and procedures.

To give you an idea of what to expect, you can apply for entry onto one of Barclays programmes in either February or March, with the application window closing in May for a September start date. The NatWest Group's apprenticeships have an October start date.

Remember though, it's never too early to begin researching into which programme might be right for you.

In terms of entry requirements, Barclays asks for three A-levels at BCC (or equivalent) for entry onto its higher apprenticeship in operations, while Santander expects GCSEs at grades 4-7 in maths and English, plus at least 96 UCAS points to join its banking programme.

After you've applied online, the application process will typically involve assessment centres and interviews.

What banking careers can the apprenticeship lead to?

With a financial services apprenticeship, you could get a job as a:

  • change manager
  • cyber security analyst
  • data analyst
  • financial manager
  • financial risk analyst
  • operational manager
  • operations analyst
  • relationship manager
  • project manager
  • retail banker
  • risk manager.

For other finance careers, see our accountancy, banking and finance job profiles.

What about apprenticeships in investment banking?

Major investment bank J.P. Morgan runs four UK apprenticeships, including a four-year Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeship programme. You'll study towards the Level 4 Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI) Investment Operations Certificate before progressing to the Level 6 Diploma in Investment Operations.

Alternatively, Morgan Stanley offers a three-year finance apprenticeship programme based in Glasgow. For this, you'll study towards the ACCA Foundation Diploma while working within the company's finance division.

Explore whether this field is best suited to your skillset and read advice on finding work in the industry at 5 tips on getting into investment banking.

Are insurance apprenticeships available?

Some of the finance apprenticeships already mentioned cover opportunities to work in insurance. However, there are plenty of dedicated programmes on offer, including:

  • Aon - there are six streams to pick from (at Levels 3 and 4): client management, commercial risk and reinsurance, employee benefits, human capital, human resources, and investment. The apprenticeship is a permanent position with roles available nationwide.
  • AXA - finance, underwriting and claims are just a few of the business areas taking on apprentices, and these can lead to qualifications up to Masters level (Levels 6 and 7).
  • Lloyd's of London - the 18-month insurance apprenticeship programme involves three rotations across the business, which could be in its innovation lab or with the market intelligence team. You'll work towards Level 4 Insurance Professional standard, as you aim to complete the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) diploma. Applications open in January each year, with the salary set at £20,125.
  • Zurich - apprenticeships are available in claims and commercial underwriting, with the application process taking place between February and April for both these apprenticeship roles.

Find out more

  • Consider finance graduate schemes.
  • Explore graduate finance jobs.
  • Get an overview of the UK's financial sector.

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As a seasoned professional with extensive knowledge in the field of banking and finance, my expertise is rooted in practical experience and a deep understanding of the industry's dynamics. I've been actively involved in various capacities within financial institutions, gaining insights into the intricacies of banking operations, customer relations, and the evolving landscape of financial services.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about banking apprenticeships in the UK:

  1. Banking Apprenticeships vs. Internships:

    • Banking apprenticeships are formal arrangements with a salary and a recognized qualification.
    • Internships are short-term and focus on gaining work experience in the financial services sector.
    • Finance internships are recommended for university students before graduation.
  2. Types of Banking Apprenticeships:

    • Majority are for those who completed A-levels.
    • Higher apprenticeships (Levels 4 and 5) are equivalent to a foundation degree.
    • Banking and finance degree apprenticeships (Level 6 and 7) are emerging.
    • Companies like Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest Group, and Santander offer diverse apprenticeship programs.
  3. Companies Offering Apprenticeships:

    • Barclays provides apprenticeships in coding, customer service, cyber, finance, and more.
    • HSBC offers foundation apprenticeships and four-and-a-half year banking degree apprenticeships.
    • Lloyds Banking Group provides apprenticeships in areas like audit, risk, technology, and customer services.
    • NatWest Group offers apprenticeships in business admin, customer service, data, and financial services.
    • Santander's apprenticeships cover finance, data science, technology engineering, and more.
  4. Nature of Banking Apprenticeships:

    • Roles vary but typically involve working in teams within different business functions.
    • Structured training and support are provided for qualification completion.
    • Duration ranges from 12 months to six years depending on factors.
  5. Location of Apprenticeships:

    • While many are in London, opportunities exist across major cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, and Manchester.
  6. Salary for Apprenticeships:

    • All apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate or National Minimum Wage.
    • Some employers offer higher salaries, e.g., Santander's degree-level finance apprenticeship starts at £21,000.
  7. Application Process:

    • Application timeframes and procedures vary by employer.
    • Entry requirements differ; for example, Barclays requires three A-levels at BCC for its higher apprenticeship.
  8. Potential Careers After Apprenticeships:

    • Various roles, including change manager, data analyst, risk manager, and retail banker, are accessible through financial services apprenticeships.
  9. Investment Banking Apprenticeships:

    • Major investment banks like J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley offer apprenticeship programs.
    • Options include Level 6 financial services professional apprenticeships and ACCA Foundation Diploma studies.
  10. Insurance Apprenticeships:

    • Finance apprenticeships cover insurance opportunities.
    • Dedicated programs by companies like Aon, AXA, Lloyd's of London, and Zurich are available.

This comprehensive overview should provide valuable insights for anyone considering a banking apprenticeship in the UK. If you have specific questions or need further details on any aspect, feel free to ask.

Discover the best banking apprenticeships in 2024 | Work at a top UK bank (2024)
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