Getting a Fashion Apprenticeship

Whether you want to work with textiles or leather, accessories or footwear, there's an apprenticeship out there to help you on your way.

Many fashion greats got to where they are today through apprenticeships, rather than traditional education, so it's no surprise that fashion apprenticeships are popular! If it's good enough for Karl Lagerfeld ...

What is a fashion apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a great way to learn on the job. You'll undertake structured training whilst working in your chosen area of fashion. And because you'll be working, you'll be earning!

You can go into an apprenticeship as soon as you finish school, as an alternative to A-levels or university.

To qualify for an apprenticeship, you need to be over 16, eligible to work in England, and not currently in full-time education.

Know what you want

There's a good range of apprenticeships out there, from entry-level to advanced, and in all kinds of different specialisms. The main pathways are:

  • Apparel
  • Footwear
  • Leather goods
  • Saddlery
  • Tailoring
  • Textiles

All apprenticeships have their own requirements and provide their own benefits. We've broken down what kinds of apprenticeship are on offer, and what you might need for them.

Types of apprenticeship and their requirements

Fashion apprenticeships are categorised as Intermediate, Advanced or Higher. You can enter at the level most suited to you, and then climb the ladder to the higher levels.

  • Intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships:
    This is the entry-level apprenticeship and equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C once completed. It typically leads to a qualification such as an NVQ level 2, or a BTEC. You'll need to be over 16 to get in, and requirements will vary between different specialisms.
  • Advanced (Level 3) apprenticeships:
    Usually requires either five good GCSE passes or a completed intermediate apprenticeship. A finished course is equivalent to two good A-level passes. It typically leads to a qualification such as an NVQ level 3 or a BTEC.
  • Higher (Level 4) apprenticeships:
    Has higher entry requirements, often including completion of an advanced apprenticeship. It typically leads to a qualification such as an NVQ level 4 or a foundation degree.

Apprenticeship pathways and careers

Before you decide which apprenticeship(s) to apply for, it's helpful to think about your future career.

Every apprenticeship could put you on a number of career paths - for example, the textiles pathway could lead to a role as a :

You can apply for many different kinds of jobs in fashion once you've completed your apprenticeship, so don't worry if you're not 100% decided about your future career just yet.

Tough it out ... the rewards are worth it

Apprenticeships can be tough - there's a lot to learn as you're rapidly trying to get to grips with an unfamiliar industry. The pay tends to be below minimum wage (apprenticeship rates start at £3.50 an hour), and the competition is fierce.

However, what fashion apprenticeships lack in pay, they more than make up for in valuable industry knowledge and contacts.

You'll be working alongside people who are already successful in the industry you want to enter, and learning from people who know everything there is to know about that specific area of fashion. Make the most of having access to these incredible sources and ask for tips and advice whenever you can.

Don't forget to network either. Contacts you make now could end up being the key to your success in the future. As the saying goes, "it's not what you know, it's who you know".

Apply for a fashion apprenticeship

You can apply for a fashion apprenticeship via the Government's website, which also contains a detailed breakdown of the kinds of fashion jobs you could expect to apply for after your apprenticeship is complete.

If you're still at school, ask your careers service to help you identify and apply for upcoming opportunities.

You should also bookmark Creative Skillset and Fashion Capital as useful sources of information about fashion apprenticeships. Both sites list current opportunities - take a look and see what grabs your fancy!

Start looking at your fashion apprenticeship options today - be prepared to work hard and learn a lot!

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