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How to get a job in IT: Apprenticeship vs university

Christina Mercer | Aug. 11, 2017
There are various ways to get that dream job in IT, but which one is right for you?

"I had every intention of going to university, but I had a last minute change of mind and haven't looked back since. Joining the apprenticeship programme at O2 is the best career decision I could have made. The scheme has provided me with invaluable on-the-job training, and means I've been able to learn as I earn. Above all, it's been an opportunity to try out different roles within a broad variety of business areas," Smart said.

"For example, I'm currently working as a SIEM engineer, having previously worked as analyst within the security operations team here at O2. As my knowledge of this team's vital role within the business has grown, so have my responsibilities. This has helped me to build the skills, experience and above all the confidence that I hope will open even more doors to future career opportunities in the technology sector."


University degree

As I'm sure you're aware, a degree is an academic qualification normally gained from a University. This might be one of the most popular routes in tech with subjects like computer science and other IT-related courses up for grabs, but is it the right choice for you? If you're undecided about whether to begin an apprenticeship or not, a degree might be one to consider as it takes the pressure off finding you 'dream job', instead it enables you to explore the greater field. 


How does a degree work?

A standard Bachelor's degree is three years long with frequent examinations and coursework projects. Most Bachelor degrees will conclude with a dissertation and will result in students receiving either first class honours, upper second class honours, lower second class honours or third class honours (the lowest grade possible with honours). 

There are a few variants of the standard degree format. Firstly, some subjects may offer sandwich courses, this is a full degree with an extra year spent in industry, normally taken after the first or second year (sandwiched in between a standard three-year course).

Secondly, some people may wish to enrol part-time and work at the same time, and while this will double your time at university, it will also mean you can take the course at your own pace and ensuring your living costs are paid for without the need for a maintenance loan.

Thirdly, for those wanting a base in the technology industry, there is always the foundation degree. This is a qualification, one step lower than a Bachelor's degree which usually centres on a vocational course lasting two years. Students can receive this qualification via university or college of higher education.


How to apply for a degree

UK university applications will be sent through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service that  operates the application process for British universities. 


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