Apprenticeship FAQs – What you need to know before you apply

Jan 4, 2024 | Careers

1. What is an accounting apprenticeship?

An accounting apprenticeship is a program that combines classroom-led learning (in our case, provided by Kaplan) with on-the-job training in accounting. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn the skills you need for a career in accounting and to gain experience in the field whilst working towards your qualification.

2. Do I need a degree to apply for an apprenticeship?

We offer two apprenticeship routes – one for school leavers and one for graduates. The main difference between the two is the time it takes to qualify. If you are a school leaver, you’ll complete the AAT as a foundation course before moving on to the ACA/ACCA qualification. If you have completed a degree at University, you can start the ACA/ACCA straight away. In both cases, you’ll learn as you earn as an apprentice (also called ‘trainee’) and your learning will culminate in becoming a qualified Accountant.

In terms of qualifications, we look for candidates with at least three A levels at grades A* to C as well as Maths and English GCSEs in grades four to nine. If you’re intending on taking the graduate route, we look for at least a 2:1 at degree level.

But, more importantly than that, we recruit on attitude. We are looking for individuals who share our ‘penguin mindset’ – a mindset that embodies our values. We are looking for candidates who can demonstrate that they are clear communicators and team players; adaptive to change, curious in nature and positive in attitude.

3. When do the apprenticeships start?

We currently have two intakes – one in September and one in February. We generally take on two apprentices each year. With it taking up to five years to qualify (depending on your route), that means you will be in good company working among a group of up to 10 fellow trainees as you progress your studies.

4. When is the closing date for applications?

Our trainee recruitment operates on a rolling basis which means we can take applications throughout the year. Once our quota is full we will close the application portal (details can be found on our School Leaver and Graduate pages). We find that trainees tend to start looking up to 12 months in advance, so do be mindful of that if you are set on securing your apprenticeship with us!

5. What can I expect from my apprenticeship?

Before you embark on your apprenticeship in accounting it’s worth bearing in mind the work that will go into it as training on the job can be demanding. Whilst you will receive dedicated study leave ahead of exams, you will be constantly learning, reading and test-taking. You will also receive regular performance evaluations to keep you on track. It is certainly not an easy option, but it is highly rewarding!

6. How can I apply?

You can apply through our current vacancies page here. To make your application, you will need your CV handy. Please note that we have filled our 2024 intake and therefore our upcoming vacancies are for February and September 2025.

7. What are the benefits of an accounting apprenticeship with Harold Sharp?

In addition to providing the basics of your accounting apprenticeship i.e training, study leave, on-the-job learning, we also provide our trainees with:

  • Regular social events with other trainees, including outside of the accounting sector
  • Opportunity to be involved in client meetings from day one
  • Regular internal events with the wider office, including Charity Days, Quarterly Breakfasts, Cake Club, Run Club
  • Access to our Trainee Handbook which acts as your ‘all you need to know’ starter kit
  • Quarterly meetings with fellow trainees as part of our Trainee Working Group

8. Can I apply if I’m part-way through my apprenticeship elsewhere?

Yes – you can apply at any point of your training journey. You’ll just need to let us know where you’re up to so that we can tailor the remainder of your training accordingly.

9. What is your approach to flexible working?

We offer all staff flexible working which means that our employees can flex their start and finish times around the core office hours of 10.00 and 16.00. All staff also have the flexibility to request work from home days. On the whole, we know that we do our best work when we’re all together so staff tend to opt to work from the office rather than at home. We believe this is highly beneficial to our trainees, as we know from experience than trainees benefit from more face-to-face contact with colleagues and peers, especially within their first year.

10. What does a typical day look like for a trainee?

You can find out what a typical day looks like from our trainee, Kieran Mantel, here.


Want to know more about kick-starting your career in accounting? Visit our dedicated School Leaver and Graduate pages or contact us on