Project Management Apprenticeships: A UK Guide

I have mentored project managers for years, and recently, more of my mentees have been going through project management apprenticeships.

I really rate the training on offer and the support (although to be fair, the different awarding organizations who offer the training can vary widely in their support). Maybe an apprenticeship in project management would be the right career move for you?

Is there an apprenticeship for project management?

Yes! In fact there are several, at various levels, depending on your entry point and your career goals. From entry level up to degree level, so wherever you are, there is a qualification for you.

The project management apprenticeship standard has been around since 2017 and individual apprenticeships have evolved a lot since then, which is a good thing. There are more options, and more organizations offering them.

All of them will give you project management skills to help you lead successful projects.

What is a project management apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is basically on the job learning. You study and do the job at the same time. They lead to professional qualifications and once you’ve finished the study time, you’ll be well placed to get a job in project environments whether that’s in your existing organization or elsewhere.


  • You get paid! A real salary for a real job, working in or with project teams.
  • You get experience while you are learning so you can put your classroom knowledge into practice.
  • You can find providers who offer all the training remotely (or you can go into a college if you prefer to study that way).
  • You get regular reviews with a tutor and support from your line manager.

Practical work experience counts for such a lot on your CV, and the fact that you can meet professional standards, understand the jargon of the job and interact with others confidently will all help you secure your next role.


  • You’re expected to do 20% off the job learning study per week, which is a day a week for a full-time employee. Project work can be busy and full on so safeguarding that time can be hard unless you are physically not in the office.
  • Some of the tutors I’ve come into contact with are struggling to support their large classes. You do need to be self-motivated.

The apprenticeship system seems to be constantly under review, so the requirements change every couple of years and training providers have to fit in with that. It can mean you don’t get perfectly clear answers to your questions sometimes.

What do you learn?

A PM apprenticeship will teach you about all the ‘normal’ stuff you learn on project management training, but instead of doing your Association for Project Management (APM) PMQ over a week, you do it over a much longer time period so you can evidence that you have the skills.

It should make you much more attractive to employers as they know you’ve put your learning into practice.

As for content, expect to study topics including:

  • Project governance structures
  • Project management methodologies and the project lifecycle
  • Project budgets
  • Project risks and risk management
  • Schedule management
  • Organizational strategy
  • Contract management and procurement as it relates to projects
  • Working with external stakeholders, the project sponsor and internal teams.

I asked Indie Basi, Owner and Director of UK firm Wade Building Supplies, about his experience with apprenticeships.

“Even though apprenticeships are mostly associated with on-the-job training, a small but important portion of the training will also be completed via formal education,” he said.

“The formulation of business cases, risk and problem management, cost control, project scope, budgeting, and schedule management are among the fundamental skills that your apprentices will master in this environment.”

A huge benefit of apprenticeships is the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice. “Students gain from being able to use it right away in their apprenticeship position inside the company,” he said.

Read next: Three ways to become a project manager

Types of project management apprenticeship

The most common project management apprenticeship to take is the Associate Project Manager Level 4.

Level 4: Associate PM

It will take you 24 months plus your end point assessment time (that’s the assessment period at the end of your training where you prepare a portfolio of evidence).

It’s perfect for anyone in (or wanting to be) an assistant project manager, junior project manager, or, frankly, anyone who doesn’t yet have the APM PMQ certification, as that’s what you get at the end.

It’s assessed by an evidence portfolio and professional review, which sounds daunting, but by that point, you’ll be able to manage a conversation with an assessor. The professional review panel will want you to do your best.

The application process requires you to show that you have 5 GCSEs at C or above and A Levels or equivalent. It took me a while to dig out my school certificates, so I hope you know where yours are!

At the end, you’ll get the APM Project Management Qualification (which is one of the certifications I hold, it’s probably my favorite!). You’ll be eligible to join APM as an Associate member.

The benefits of professional body membership are worth having and your company will probably pay for it as APM is one of the HMRC approved professional organizations.

Level 3: Project Controls Technician

There is also a Level 3 qualification. It will take you even longer than the Level 4 at 36 months, but it’s specifically focused on project controls.

You’ll learn things like managing project schedule integrity, control of costs and expenditure, project change controls, and techniques to support project managers with delivery in an organizational setting.

This is a good one if you want to work in energy, utilities, construction and engineering as those industries tend to have more need for people with project controls job titles than, say, marketing.

The entry requirements are 5 GCSEs, so it’s slightly lower entry criteria than the Level 4.

At the end, you get a Level 3 Diploma in Project Control Practice and you can apply for membership of the Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE). You’ll also be eligible to apply for registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) if you have engineering experience (or you can get that and apply later). So you can see that it’s a more engineering-focused role.

Either the Level 3 or the Level 4 are good routes into a PM career is perfect if you want to become a project manager without a degree in the UK.

Who can do an apprenticeship?

I would say that the Level 3 is more relevant to job seekers straight out of education. Level 4 is also a possible option if you want to move into project management without much experience.

However, you don’t have to be a young person to take an apprenticeship programme. They are also great for people who haven’t had the opportunity for much formal training – like accidental PMs or those who did their formal training in another discipline and have moved to project leadership as a second career.

I started mine when I was 46!

project management apprenticeships

Project management apprenticeship jobs

The great news about choosing this career is that there is a huge range of suitable jobs. Whether you want to work in hospitality or construction, healthcare or finance, most large employers have project management teams.

And employers with an annual salary bill of £3m+ have to pay the apprenticeship levy which basically means they are paying for the scheme whether they put anyone through it or not. So it’s in their interest to get people into those roles as the funding is already secured.

Construction project management apprenticeships are advertised at organizations like Babcock and Iconic. Natwest, the NHS and the National Trust have all taken apprentices, so it’s worth giving some thought to the type of company you want to work in and then seeing if they have a relevant scheme.

How much do apprentice project managers earn?

Well, that’s the question! I think it depends on whether you are joining an organization specifically as an apprentice, on their funded scheme, or whether you are in an existing job, taking an apprenticeship alongside your existing responsibilities.

Glassdoor says a project management apprentice salary is advertised at between £18k and £27k when the job is specifically ‘join us in an apprenticeship role’. So that’s a ballpark. Different industries will influence that and there is a minimum salary set by the government.

I took my apprenticeship while I was already in a senior project management job (although I didn’t do a project management topic, I studied for the Learning and Skills Mentor apprenticeship). So my salary was obviously affected by the role I was in – I didn’t take a pay cut just because I was an apprentice!

I know PMO analysts and IT project managers who have also taken an apprenticeship while already in post, so their salaries probably stayed the same as what they were on before their training started.

The manager and mentor’s perspective

Every apprentice has a mentor who supports them, as well as their line manager and tutor from the training company. So there is plenty of support available.

Uku Tomikas, CEO of Messente, wearing a black shirt
Uku Tomikas

“Mentoring project managers is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had,” says Uku Tomikas, CEO of Messente. “For instance, one of the project managers I mentored struggled with launching our services in multiple countries.”

Tomikas shared his own experiences and supported the project manager to ensure their on-the-job learning helped them both develop and complete the project successfully.

“We launched in ten new countries in six months because of lessons I learned from my own experience, such as the importance of understanding local rules and cultural nuances,” he says. “I strongly support apprenticeships. They provide a hands-on learning experience vital in today’s fast-paced business world.

“With apprenticeships, you learn theory while getting directly involved in ongoing projects. Employees can apply what they’ve learned on the spot, boosting retention and innovation simultaneously,” he adds.

“Companies benefit from having a talent pool that aligns with their operational requirements and culture. Apprenticeships are an investment in your workforce. They’re an opportunity to innovate and build loyalty, which is essential for long-term business success.”

Project management apprenticeships Level 6: Your next step?

Let’s say you’ve taken your Level 4 Associate Project Manager and want to move on. There are other options, still funded within the levy, that will give you quality training and experience. Perfect if you want to manage more project complexity or explore other project management roles like project management office leadership.

If you’ve already got some experience, you might want to skip straight to a Level 6. The higher up you go, the more specific the training and the topics. For example, at the time of writing, the Institute for Apprenticeships has approved the following higher level qualifications:

  • Level 6: Project Controls Professional (48 months, not a degree)
  • Level 6: Project Manager (48 months, this one is a degree apprenticeship)

For these, you are going to need A Levels or equivalent and meet the Maths and English requirements. (If you have secondary school qualifications in Maths and English, you’ll probably be fine.)

There is not a Level 7 apprenticeship specifically in project management, but if you wanted to go on and take a higher degree, then there are Senior Leader titles which would give you the rounded business knowledge.