Advertising Apprenticeships and Alternative Career Routes

Advertising Apprenticeships and Alternative Ways into the UK’s Exciting Industry!

Be a Proper Influencer

Forget blogs and trying to attract subscribers – if you really want to influence people and play a part in shaping people’s buying and lifestyle habits, then look no further than a career in advertising. What’s more, with the industry being increasingly innovative in its approach, now’s the perfect time to jump on-board and help shape its future as well as those around you.

About the Advertising Industry

The advertising apprenticeships and careers are one of the most exciting and innovative industries for the UK. It generates £21 billion in income and employs 200,000 people.

Additionally, it’s one of the most diverse and fast changing sectors too. Advertising and marketing for example has seen a huge change in the past five years – with digital advertising representing about 50 per cent of the market.

The industry has its roots in London, but the growth of the sector means that in one way or another there are creative advertising opportunities throughout the country, with Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow being recognised hotspots. The spread is enhanced with the tribe of digital nomads and freelancers who work in the industry.

It can be an industry that pays well too. Salaries can range from £18k for a junior position right up to £100k plus for a director role.

What Can I Do?

With the industry being so varied, it also means that so to are the available roles.

Broadly speaking, there are three areas to the sector – the creative side (those who generate and mould the advertising, usually specialised agencies), those who sell the resulting advertising methods (this could be in print, TV, online or ‘out of house’ (OOH); which encompasses the likes of hoardings etc; and those organisations that buy advertising.

Consequently, the increasing spectrum of jobs means that the advertising industry is looking for more diverse talent from a widening range of courses and backgrounds. You don’t need to be good at drawing – although there is a role for you if you are! And the industry especially likes people who can see things from different angles – what they call diagonal thinkers. The types of jobs that are available in the sector span someone who is sketching out scamps for a campaign to scriptwriters and media buyers to producers.

Advertising Skills

Advertising apprenticeships enable you to gain skills. The whole industry works for a number of reasons – it might be to craft a brand image, communicate a change in available products, introduce something new, or to create a ‘buzz’ about the brand.

The skills you’ll need will depend on what advertising role you want to progress. Is your ideal job in planning, creating or identifying where best to advertise? If you’re interested in being behind a concept, then you’ll need to be creative, quick thinking, team player and have an eye for detail. An understanding of what also grabs people’s attention is a must across the industry, so it’s good to have the ability to analyse what drives people and being able to spot trends.

You’ll be a good communicator and it’s important that you are brave enough to suggest those ideas which are firmly out of the box. Develop a campaign that captures everyone’s imagination and is entirely original, and the results can be huge. On the opposite side though, you need to be resilient and be prepared for the fact that not all of your ideas might literally make it past the drawing board or what you thought might work, simply doesn’t when it’s put into action.

To help you determine what advertising job might be for you, have a look on the IPA (The institute of Practitioners in Advertising) website – there’s a fun quiz that will help you.

Work experience and advertising apprenticeships will also help you decide. Try to find an opportunity to work on a live brief – for example during the Ideas Foundation summer school programmes or by taking part in the Future Creative workshops run by the Ideas Foundation. Look at The Ideas Foundation for details.

Check out world class creative work too – find out who has won the Cannes Lions awards or the D&AD pencils. Contact the agencies whose work you like and get in touch with the creative teams. Read magazine such as Campaign and the Drum or Marketing Week to get an idea of the sort of creative campaigns that are gaining attention.

And if you need physical examples of roles and how they work, check out the video created by the Ideas Foundation with the adam&eveDBB communications agency, which shows you some of the roles that go into making the famous John Lewis adverts. Included are some great careers tips from some of the creatives in the sector to help identify the right role for you. You can watch it at:

You Could Work In…

Agency, Design studio, Media sales environment eg newspaper/magazine, In-house marketing, Department of a business, Production house.

Advertising Apprenticeships and Careers

Roles in the advertising industry are plentiful and varied. Here’s a few of the jobs you could do:

Planning and strategic:

Strategy Planners, Media Planners And Buyers, Ux Planner, Web/App Developer, Data Analyst, Econometrician


Account Executive, Creative Services Manager, Art Buyer, TV Production, Print Production, Studio Management

Creating Roles:

Art Director, Copywriter, Web Designer, Graphic Design, Visualisation, Content Creation

And because the industry getting more high tech with algorithms and programmatic advertising, social media metrics and new technology such as immersive experiences, the industry is looking for creatives from IT and science backgrounds too.

Training Opportunities and Advertising Apprenticeships

Think about the different routes into the sector – apprenticeships, graduate entry, direct entry via work experience, specialist foundation courses such as SCA. The advertising industry recruits geographers, psychologists, data scientists, physicists, as well as artists.

Check out industry bodies who have information on careers;

Ideas Foundation

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising

Creative Skills

Life In the Advertising Industry

Join the advertising industry and it’s very unlikely you’ll be bored. Traditionally, it’s a fast paced environment and even if you’re working in what many perceive to be a less interesting side to the industry – for example, where you might be trying to find a last-minute buyer for a page of advertising – it can still be quite exciting when you close the deal.

Of course, it can be glamourous too – you only need to look at the multi-millionaire campaigns produced by the world’s top agencies – but there can also be plenty of stress! There’s pressure to make something work and the competition is high, with more and more agencies springing up every day.

The rewards can be high though, and the feeling of coming up with a concept that grabs the world’s attention is immense. Your creativity could make a product or brand and everyday name and for those that wish to follow an advertising career all the way to the top, there’s a six-figure salary as the ultimate prize.

If you’re someone who is creative or a great communicator, then the advertising presents ample opportunity for success. The hours and pressure can be tough, but get it right and you’ll also be in a position to advertise your own skills to a very big audience.

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