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Nursery Managers Show


06 Feb 2024

Starting Your Career in Early Years: A Guide to Nursery Apprenticeships

Starting Your Career in Early Years: A Guide to Nursery Apprenticeships

It’s National Apprenticeship Week! Check out this guide to starting your career in early years through a nursery apprenticeship.

What does a nursery apprentice do?

An early years apprentice works in a nursery while studying for a professional qualification at the same time. It allows you to effectively ‘earn while you learn’.

Nursery apprenticeships involve a combination of on-the-job and off-the-job training. You will get practical hands-on experience working as part of the nursery team and learn from experienced early years professionals. You will also spend time studying for your professional qualification and get instruction from a training provider.

Two types of apprenticeships are most relevant to people wanting to start a career in early years – the Level 2 Early Years Practitioner Apprenticeship and the Level 3 Early Years Educator Apprenticeship.

Level 2 Early Years Practitioner Apprenticeship

The Level 2 apprenticeship is generally recommended for school/college leavers, where the apprenticeship would be their first full-time job. It lays the foundations for working in early years and provides an introduction to the sector, with slightly less pressure than a more advanced apprenticeship would involve.

No previous qualifications are required. However, Level 2 apprentices are expected to be able to achieve Level 1 Functional Skills in Maths and English.

Level 3 Early Years Educator Apprenticeship

The Level 3 apprenticeship is more suitable for candidates who have already gained some work experience – whether that’s in early years or in another sector.

Level 3 apprentices are expected to have at least Grade C (4/5) in GCSE Maths and English, or be able to achieve Level 2 Functional Skills in Maths and English.

Many people start their career in early years through a Level 2 apprenticeship and go on to complete a Level 3 apprenticeship later. Candidates who are more mature and have more experience might be eligible to go straight to a Level 3 apprenticeship.

What are the requirements for a nursery apprenticeship?

To be a nursery apprentice, you need to be aged 16 or over. Many apprentices are school/college leavers, but you can apply for an apprenticeship at any age – there is no upper limit! You also need to pass a DBS check in order to work with children.

Any nursery apprentice should be enthusiastic about starting a career in early years and working with children. You should be eager to learn and develop through a mixture of hands-on work and study time. You also need to be a team player with good communication skills and problem-solving abilities.

How do I become a nursery apprentice?

You can find nursery apprentice positions advertised on job boards like Indeed, and also directly on nursery websites.

When you’re weighing up the options and deciding where you want to apply, it’s a good idea to consider:

  • Location
  • What the nursery is like – e.g. is it a specific type of nursery like a forest school?
  • Values of the nursery – do you feel excited about working there?
  • Any benefits of the job  

To apply, you will need an up-to-date CV and you might need to write a cover letter that explains why you’re applying for the position. If the nursery is impressed with your application, they will invite you to an interview so they can get to know you better.

How long does a nursery apprenticeship take?

The exact length of time to complete an apprenticeship can vary from nursery to nursery. In general, a Level 2 apprenticeship can take around 12-15 months, and a Level 3 apprenticeship will take longer (more like 18 months).


More: Nursery Managers Guide – What is CPD in Early Years?


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