Differences between an apprenticeship and university

Apprenticeship vs. university

The end of school is an important time in your life.

If you’re unsure about what to do next, don’t assume that university is your only option to launch a successful and rewarding career. An apprenticeship can also give you a recognised professional award, with options to pursue a degree later if you choose. There are no limitations to what you can achieve with an apprenticeship.

Gets skills and experience right away

As an accounting apprentice, you’ll be gaining skills and experience earlier than your peers because you’ll be working and studying straight away. You’ll get to start  making an immediate impact in your job and show your employer the value you can bring to their business while they support you during your studies.

Avoid debt, make money

With an apprenticeship, you’ll be earning a salary and will avoid building up the student debt that can come university study.

A recent report by the Sutton Trust, an education charity that focuses on improving social mobility, showed that high-quality apprenticeships lead to lifetime earnings comparable with those achieved by graduates.

Apprenticeship vs university comparison

For a comparison of the pros and cons of the apprenticeship versus university route to becoming a fully chartered certified accountant, download our infographic (.png format, 93KB)





Free to you

Cost is funded by employer and government

c.£9,000 per year (England/Wales only) plus living expenses

Ave. £50,000k debt on graduation (interest included)

12 months minimum

Three years+

Source of income:

Earn while you learn

Part-time work on-top of study to fund lifestyle


On-the-job work experience: valuable practical and transferable skills

Little or no work experience

Academic skills and knowledge that are often hard to apply to work environment. 

Education level:

Diploma and Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree options available

Bachelor’s degree or higher


Start building your professional network

Social life, sports and activities and new connections


ACCA Apprenticeship is a globally respected professional award and includes a Diploma qualification

Recognised degree with access to graduate schemes


Three years+ to become a fully chartered certified accountant

Six years to become a full certified chartered accountant