A Guide to UK Cyber Security Apprenticeships


The demand for cyber security experts increases every year, especially since almost half of UK businesses fell victim to attacks of this nature in 2017. Despite the financial cost, however, there is a growing shortage in cyber security professionals worldwide.

In the UK, two-thirds of companies do not have a cyber security professional on board, which led to 7,000 available job positions per quarter in the last year alone. And by 2019, online crime will cost businesses worldwide approximately £1.4 trillion a year.

While plenty of those with IT or related backgrounds enter this field, many do not realise that getting a university degree won’t guarantee you a career in cyber security. Getting a foot on the career ladder requires experience and specific knowledge and apprenticeships can be one of the best ways of doing this, fast-tracking your career success without costing you hefty student fees.


Why Should You Choose a Cyber Security Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are real job positions that combine on-the-job training and classroom learnings. If you choose this route, among the many advantages you can enjoy include:

  • Wages – Since this is a full-time position, you will get paid while you learn the ins and outs of the industry. Some of these apprenticeships also offer paid holidays, depending on company policies.
  • Shorter timespan – University degrees often require at least three years before you can find an internship and apply all your theoretical knowledge. With apprenticeships, however, you have the advantage of learning and applying your skills at the same time.
  • Boost your experience – Experience in the industry is much needed when becoming a cyber security professional. With an apprenticeship under your belt, you have an immediate leg up from other applicants who just earned their university degrees. On top of that, you will make it easier for the company you work with to hire you, given your prior experience with them.
  • Mentorship – Having a direct line to your supervisor is more advantageous than formal class setups. For one, university professors need to balance their time between multiple students. In apprentice programs, you can easily ask your manager any questions, clarifications, terms, or strategies to be effective at your job.

While these benefits can help you advance your career, keep in mind that you need to be fully committed when going down this road, as apprenticeship often takes years to complete.

You would also need to balance having a job and studying to gain cyber security qualifications. You will, however, be paid and gain the kind of experience that university students usually won’t get. If you do not see yourself finishing a university degree, then apprenticeship is a good fit for you.


How to Get a Cyber Security Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship programme is on equal footing with university degrees. If you are over 16 years of age, you can apply for one. There is also no upper age limit to be an apprentice.

There are a number of things you need to take note of to be someone’s apprentice:


1.      Choose the right level of apprenticeship

There are multiple opportunities to start out as a cyber security apprentice, depending on where you are currently in your education:

  • Level 3 – Advanced Apprenticeship: For this level, you have to be at least 16 years old, with 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A to C, including Maths and English. Level 3 apprenticeships are full-time job positions for a specific role within a company’s technology or IT team. Duration often includes 13 months of paid work experience. Advanced apprenticeships are prerequisites for the next level of apprenticeship.
  • Level 4 – Higher Apprenticeship: Higher apprenticeships require applicants to be at least 18 years old, with 2+ A Levels at grades A to C (or equivalent). Prerequisites often include a Level 3 apprenticeship. At this level, you will also work full time for an employer, which will allow you to further refine your skills within typically 16 months of employment. Those with higher apprenticeships are often hired by the company once the programme ends.
  • Level 6 – Degree Apprenticeship: Level 6 apprenticeships are equivalent to getting a bachelor degree, and requires you to be at least 21 years old. While there are limited options in the IT field, once you complete this programme, you open doors to well-paid positions in the cyber security field.

Note that a Computer Science GCSE and/or A level can give you an advantage, but it is not mandatory. Plenty of employers do not require these, but will look for at least one STEM subject. Always check a company’s requirements before applying.


2.      Government-initiated apprenticeship programmes

Recognising the need for more and better cyber security professionals in the country, the government launched a couple of apprentice initiatives that you can choose from:

  • Government Security Profession – Early this year, the government announced that they are opening civil service positions in the cyber security field. This involves Level 4 Cyber Security Apprenticeship programmes, which would last for two years. These positions will give you both on-the-job training and formal learning. Educational requirement is not needed, but you need to present demonstrable skills and passion for the industry.If you are keen on helping the government protect and defend its citizens’ data, create an account on this website and wait for applications to open.


  • The National Apprenticeship Service – A more straightforward job listing site, you can apply for apprenticeships available in various parts of the country via the National Apprenticeship Service websiteAll you need to do is enter the search parameters that you are looking for like your preferred location and apprenticeship level. You also have the option to create your own account, so you’ll receive emails when new cyber security apprenticeships are posted.


3.      Tech Partnership Legacy

Back in 2003, Tech Partnership (formerly known as e-skills UK) was formed and licensed as the country’s sector skills council. It aimed to help make the UK’s digital economy globally competitive. With the help of various employers, this non-profit organisation created thousands of new apprentice programmes (among others), effectively employing nearly 3,000 young people per year—including those in the cyber security industry.

The company ceased operations in September 2018, due to government changes in policy for skills. However, its legacy lives on. On their website, you will find the organisations they transferred their responsibilities to, including various employers and universities, as well as The Department of Education. If you’re looking for apprentice programmes in cyber security, they have listed plenty of options you can look at.


4.      Look online

Apart from word of mouth, Google is also your friend when looking for apprentice jobs. Plenty of search results would come up. Alternatively, you can also look at our own job portal.


Cyber Security Apprentice Job Titles

Apprenticeships revolve around developing your skills in protecting organisations against cyber threats. You will also learn to monitor networks for vulnerabilities and respond effectively and efficiently to any form of hacking.

You can focus on the technical aspects of it (e.g. security design, testing, investigating, response, etc.) or on the risk analysis aspect (e.g. governance, compliance, operations, etc.).

Some of the job roles available in your career are:

  • Cyber operations manager
  • Security architect
  • Penetration tester
  • Security analyst
  • Risk analyst
  • Intelligence researcher
  • Security sales engineer
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Information security analyst
  • Governance and compliance analyst
  • Information security assurance and threat analyst
  • Forensics and incident response analyst
  • Security engineer
  • Information security auditor
  • Security administrator
  • Information security officer
  • Cyber risk manager
  • Cyber research analyst
  • Cyber incident manager
  • Cyber security design engineer



According to government requirements, as an apprentice, you are entitled to:

  • Minimum wage rate (as of April 2018) of £3.70 per hour. Note that a lot of companies offer higher than the minimum wage.
  • Compensation for both normal working hours and training.
  • 20 days of paid holidays per year.
  • Paid bank holidays.


Preparing For Your Apprenticeship Application

If you’ve got your eye on a number of apprenticeship roles, take a look at these tips to increase your chances of getting accepted:

1.      Do your research

Research what the company is looking for in an apprentice and make sure you have those qualifications. You should also look for reviews from previous employees, especially their company culture and the career path they offer. This way, you’ll know if this position is the right fit for you.

2.      Improve your CV

Your CV would help you stand out among a myriad of hopefuls for that same position.

Instead of just listing down your previous experiences and skills, you can change its order to reflect the role you are seeking or the company’s mission/vision. You can also write a cover letter, so you can better explain why you are a good fit for the business.

3.      Prepare for the interview

Interviews can be stressful, which could then affect your focus (and your first impression) come D-day. To help you prepare, do the following:

  • Research facts about the company (e.g. their ethos, what they look for in an apprentice), so you can position yourself as someone who will espouse those skills and ideals.
  • Dress appropriately, as bad clothing can negatively affect their first impressions of you.
  • Practice answering a number of interview questions that may be thrown at you. Some of these include talking about yourself (highlight how you can help their company), what attracts you to the position, and handling issues in previous work situations.
  • Prepare a couple of questions for the interviewer as well, as this communicates how interested you are. You can ask about their work culture, how their previous apprentices are doing now, and any possible opportunities after the programme.

4.      Ask for feedback

In the event that you didn’t land the job, you can politely ask the interviewer for feedback. This way, you’ll know which areas to improve for your next interviews. Just make sure you keep an open mind and take everything constructively.

5.      Clean up your online presence

The internet is rife with stories of employees losing their shot, because of their social media posts.

Start with your email, making sure it’s professional. Any embarrassing social media content should be set to private. You would want your online presence as presentable as you would be in an actual in-person interview.


What To Expect During Apprenticeship

Once you are hired, expect the following during your apprenticeship:

  • Start working right away – This is a work-based route, so you’ll start working and earning on day one.
  • Practical application – Apart from studying, most of your time will be spent on gaining practical experience. You’ll be protecting the company’s data against real cyber-attacks, which would develop your skills faster than inside the four walls of a classroom.
  • Be part of the team – Your managers will likely treat you like their regular employees. They will teach you the ropes and let you immerse with the rest of the team.
  • Conduct security risk assessment – Towards the end of your apprenticeship, you should be able to assess security risks without much supervision, and then propose ways to mitigate these risks to your employer.


Life After Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships open a lot of doors. The company that you currently work for may even offer you a full-time position or get you to the next apprenticeship level.

Even if you don’t get absorbed by the company, the practical experience that you’ll gain will be enough to prove that you are valuable to plenty of other businesses that need cyber security professionals.

If you are looking for a cyber security apprenticeship position, you can register on our site today and receive custom alerts when an available role is posted. Feel free to drop us a line via our contact form for any questions.