Physics-related apprenticeships

An interest in physics in a great grounding for a career in many different areas of science, medicine and engineering.

While you may not find an apprenticeship aimed at training you to do physics as it’s commonly thought of, there are many apprenticeships that provide superb technical training aimed at supporting physics in both research and industry environments.

Many of the advanced apprenticeships and above in this area will require A-levels in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), sometimes specifically physics. Here are some examples.

● The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK’s national measurement institute and provides knowledge-based services to support the application of science and technology through better measurement. Staff work in lots of different fields that impact many areas of life including environmental monitoring, manufacturing and healthcare. There are apprenticeships in a number of areas, with the most physics-based being the junior science apprentice. Christine Thorogood, who is just finishing the apprenticeship, tells us what it’s been like.

● In Cumbria, training provider Gen2 works with local employers in the engineering, nuclear and advanced manufacturing sectors to provide apprenticeships. Gen2 also offers help and support with the application process. Among the apprenticeships on offer are: the scientific advanced apprenticeship, leading to a career as a scientific technician in the nuclear, chemical and manufacturing industries; an intermediate apprenticeship as a health physics monitor, providing radiological safety and monitoring services; and an intermediate apprenticeship as a nuclear operator, engaging in both nuclear decommissioning activities and process operations. You can read about these and other opportunities in Gen2’s guide. Two Gen2 apprentices also discuss their experiences studying for degree apprenticeships on our case studies pages.

● The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) runs an apprentice training scheme at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire. The scheme offers advanced engineering apprenticeships focusing on mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, and is currently planning to expand and diversify to provide apprenticeships in a wide range of other areas to help UKAEA meet its future talent needs.

● Many university physics departments offer apprenticeships based in their technical workshops or laboratories. One apprentice, for example, is contributing to the groundbreaking detectors being built at the University of Oxford for use in the Large Hadron Collider and, in our case studies section, Ali Khan gives us the inside track on what’s it’s like being a technical engineering apprentice at Sheffield University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

As well as the national websites listing apprenticeship opportunities, you’ll also find apprenticeships advertised locally on websites and in newspapers – so keep your eyes open.