Comparing Internships and Apprenticeships: Which is Right for You?

National Apprentice Week is upon us in the UK, and as it currently stands, there are more than 500,000 participants enrolled in apprenticeship programs, yet internships are still rated the most influential factor in the hiring decisions of employers. So, we thought it would be a good time to talk about apprenticeships and how they differ from internships. 

You’ve probably heard of both types, possibly being used interchangeably. However, the fact of the matter is they are very different things. So, let’s start with apprenticeships.

What is an Apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeships in the UK consist of receiving specialized training. During your time as an apprentice, you are constantly working towards getting a nationally recognized qualification. The qualification itself is awarded by either a college, university, or the organization that’s providing the training. 

There are a few activities you often complete when partaking as an apprentice. They include:

  • Training
  • Shadowing
  • Mentoring
  • Coursework

What is an Internship?

An internship is a type of work experience that you acquire from an employer. It’s typically viewed as a stepping stone towards breaking into the industry you’re interested in, as a way for you to decide if the chosen career path is right for you, or both! 

Internships help you acquire invaluable skills that are hard to obtain during education, yet complement your academic knowledge further by enabling you to build your practical skill set. Furthermore, internships often lead to job offers from the host company upon completion. 

Key Differences Between Internships and Apprenticeships

Qualifications vs Work Experience

When you enroll in an apprenticeship, you’re working towards an official qualification, but if you’re doing an internship, you focus on gaining industry-specialized work experience. 

Paid vs Unpaid

Moving on, apprenticeships are always paid, but that isn’t the case for internships. As an apprentice in the UK, you can expect to be compensated a minimum of £3.90 per hour. However, many pay higher than this.  

On the other hand, internships don’t have the same regulation as apprenticeships due to being more about the experience gained than an official qualification. Therefore, intern positions can be unpaid or paid, and this is down to the business and the placement itself. 


Another big difference between the two is how long they last. On average, internships last for a couple of months to a year – the longer it is the more likely that it is paid. When we look at apprentices, a year is the minimum duration, and four years is the maximum, depending on the qualification. 

The type of industry and qualification that comes with the apprentice are the main factors that determine if it will be shorter or longer. 

Hiring Upon Completion

Both internships and apprenticeships are likely to result in a job offer upon completion. With apprenticeships, there is a higher possibility due to being integrated into the company for at least a year. 

However, this comes with its drawbacks as unlike an internship, an apprenticeship means being fully committed to the career pathway, whereas an internship enables you to try on a career, gain experience, and possibly a job offer all in much less time and commitment. 

In both instances, the business is investing time in you. However, you could argue that an apprenticeship is for those certain about their career path, whereas internships are for those looking to further their experience by sampling a career path. 

Factoring in Work Style

In recent years, new styles of working, such as remote and hybrid, have become the new norm. Not only has this affected regular job positions, but it has also had an impact on apprenticeships and internships too.

With that being said, you’re more likely to find internships offering remote and hybrid work styles than apprenticeships. The main reason for this is due to the latter often being used in the trade industry, such as construction, plumbing, and others, where you need physically be there. 

As the world has shifted in the last few years, internship opportunities cover almost every sector with many being pushed to find ways to offer remote opportunities thus remote/virtual internships are becoming increasingly popular. With this in mind, there is far more flexibility with internships.

Internships vs Apprenticeships: Which is Right for You?

To answer this question, you need to look at the experience you’re looking to gain, the time you have, and the path you wish to take. By answering these questions, you’ll be clearer on whether an internship or apprenticeship is right for you.

Both pathways have their advantages, so deciding which one you’d like to explore will depend on the career path you’re interested in and what you’re trying to achieve. 

If you’re a student studying at university, a recent graduate, or currently in a career switch period, internships offer the chance to gain real-world work experience in a specific industry with a time commitment that works for you. 

Our internships are completely remote and you’re 100% guaranteed an internship placement in your desired career field with one of our 12,000+ host companies in over 150 countries worldwide. You choose your time commitment and our expert team will match you with a placement that aligns within 6 weeks. 

Enroll Now

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