For many people considering an apprenticeship, ‘how much will I earn?’ is a key question. This guide will help you to figure out the answer!
Unlike a university degree, you won’t need to pay any tuition fees for an apprenticeship and you’ll even earn a wage; however, in some cases that wage is less than it would be if you went for full-time employment. Read on to find out whether or not an apprenticeship makes financial sense for you.
Your minimum hourly wage
If you’re either:
- Aged under 19, OR
- Aged 19 or over and in the first year of your apprenticeship
…you’re entitled to the apprenticeship rate.
The apprentice rate is currently £3.90 per hour.
An apprentice aged 22 in the first year of their apprenticeship is currently entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £3.90.
If you’re both:
- Aged 19 or over, AND
- Have completed the first year of your apprenticeship
You’ll be entitled to the national minimum wage for your age.
For example: An apprentice aged 22 who has completed the first year of their apprenticeship is currently entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £7.70.
Your minimum weekly wage
As an apprentice, you should be working a minimum of 30 hours each week. By exception, if your individual circumstances or the nature of employment make this impossible, then an absolute minimum of 16 hours must be met.
As a full-time apprentice working 30 hours per week, then, you’ll earn a minimum of £117 per week if you’re on the current apprenticeship rate.
As a 19-year-old who is 14 months into their apprenticeship, you would earn a minimum of £184.50 per week.
Good to know: You’ll be paid for your normal working hours and any training that’s part of your apprenticeship. You’ll also be entitled to 20 paid holiday days per year, plus bank holidays.
Can I earn more?
Yes. Although these rates might seem quite low, employers often pay more than the minimum rates, particularly for higher level apprenticeships, and trade unions frequently push for employers to pay over and above the apprentice rate too.
According to Total Jobs, the average salary for an apprenticeship is currently £23,000, which works out at around £12 per hour (although this will include all levels of apprenticeship).
At the time of writing, an Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeship in Finance is listed on Unifrog that pays £306 per week (roughly £8.16 per hour) and an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Highway Maintenance that pays £350 per week (roughly 9.33 per hour).
Useful tip: If the rate of pay is an important factor in your decision, you can use the Unifrog Apprenticeships tool to rank your shortlist in terms of weekly wage.
As an apprentice, you’ll be expected to pay income tax if you earn over a certain amount.
You’ll be allowed a ‘tax free allowance’ – this is the amount you can earn over a year without having to pay tax. Currently, this amount is £12,500. You would have to be earning roughly £240 or more each week to go over this allowance.
If you do earn more than £12,500 over the year, you’ll have to pay income tax – 20% of any earnings above £12,500.
An apprentice earns £14,000 each year
£14,000 – £12,500 = £1,500 over the tax fee allowance
20% of £1,500 = £300
They will need to pay a total of £300 income tax each year, or £5.77 each week.
If you earn more than £166 per week, you’ll also have to pay National Insurance Contributions (NIC).
Your NIC contributions will entitle you to certain benefits, such as maternity allowance, jobseeker’s allowance, state pension and bereavement benefits.
You will pay Class 1 NICs, which are charged at 12% of your weekly income over £166.
Returning to the above example:
An apprentice earns £14,000 each year, or £269.23 each week
£269.23 – £166 = £103.23 over the £166 threshold
12% of £103.23 = £12.39
They will need to pay a total of £12.39 NIC each week, or £644.16 each year
Therefore, their ‘take home’ pay after paying income tax and NIC will be £13,055.84 each year, or £251.07 each week.
If you struggle with the calculations, the salary calculator is a great website that will help you to find your take-home pay quickly.
It’s important to calculate your ‘take home’ pay as soon as possible – as you can see, the difference between your ‘income’ and the amount you will actually receive can be very different, and this could have a large impact on the way you budget your spending.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll be able to get by on the apprenticeship rate or national minimum wage, take a look at our Financial support for apprentices article – you may be entitled to financial aid.
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