How to get into property without an accredited degree

02 Nov 2023 | Property Needs You

Getting into property can seem like a complicated task, the same as any industry. There are a few different ways in, all with their own pros and cons. But how do you know which route is best? And, more importantly, which is best for you?

Well, that’s exactly why Property Needs You was set up. To give young people the information they need to simplify the complicated. To help them figure out where they want to go, when they want to go, and how they want to get there.

So, in this blog article, we’ll talk you through how to get into property without an accredited degree. Just like the title says, funnily enough.

What is an accredited degree?

You’ll have probably heard of a degree before. Nope, not temperature or angles. The thing you study at university. Well, there are a lot of different kinds. Helpful, we know.

When you go to uni after school (or whatever age you like!), the first kind of degree you’d study is called an undergraduate degree. Basically, the degree you study before you’re a graduate (someone who’s finished that course and got a qualification in it).

There are other kinds of postgraduate degrees that follow, like Masters and PhDs (‘post’ in this context just means ‘after’), but let’s not worry about them right now!

Some universities have accredited degrees, and some don’t. But what does that mean?

‘Accredited’ is when something has been approved by a professional body. We don’t mean a literal body. That’d be weird. We mean like an organisation. So, for example, some degrees will have been approved by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), some by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), some by other bodies.

When a degree is accredited, it’ll have met certain standards and regulations to make sure that you’ve studied the right level of information, so that you come out with the right skills and knowledge you need for the next stage. Ultimately, this is to try and make you more hireable in the long run.

But what if the course you’ve studied isn’t accredited? Or what if you don’t want to go to uni? Have no fear! There’s more than one way to skin a carrot…

What are my options?

Two of the main ways people go about getting into property without an accredited degree are through graduate schemes and apprenticeships.

Graduate schemes are for when you’ve graduated university. Apprenticeships are for when you’ve not gone to university and just gone into work straight from school (or maybe waited a while in between).

Again, there are pros and cons to both options, but both will get you into property. And both are just as valid and valuable an experience as each other. Ultimately, it all boils down to the best choice for you as a person – and only you know what that is.

Graduate schemes - a more detailed outline

Graduate schemes are structured training programmes that build key skills and practical experience in your chosen profession. They’re usually offered by large companies and organisations, although some smaller companies and public sector organisations offer them too. And they can last between 6 months to 2, 3, or even 4 years, depending on where you go and what sector you’re in – it’s worth noting that property grad schemes are typically a couple of years or more.

Designed to develop future leaders, they’re exclusively for graduates straight out of uni. They give you hands-on experience, training, mentoring and support to help you develop skills and knowledge.

Generally speaking, they involve rotations across various departments within the company. For example, if you were doing Surveying, you could be in Investment or Property Management one rotation, and Retail and Valuation the next. You’d do a minimum of 4 months in a team. So, whether you’ve got an accredited degree or not, a graduate scheme will help you fill in whatever knowledge gaps you’re missing.

You can also study to obtain your APC (Assessment of Practical Competence)
whilst doing a graduate scheme. This is a qualification that basically says you’re good at what you do – that you can use practical skills, competently. It meets the standards of the governing body, such as RICS, so this way you’re accredited.

How do I get on a graduate scheme?

Graduate schemes are highly competitive with a limited number of positions. So, it’s important to do your research and apply as soon as opportunities open up.

Some companies offer all year, some smaller employers offer whenever a position becomes available. For most major firms, the recruitment cycle begins summer onwards every year, predominantly advertising between September and November for schemes beginning the year after.

For a property graduate scheme, whilst some like you to have an accredited RICS or RTPI degree, it’s not the be all and end all. Carter Jonas, for example, will accept applications either way. If you write your CV and application well, and you show what you’re made of, you should still be in with a shot.

For most graduate schemes, you’ll need at least a 2:1 (upper second-class honours) in your undergraduate degree, but some will allow 2:2 (lower second-class honours) if you show potential and have a good CV. Generally speaking, there’s no cut-off point for applications. So, don’t worry if you’ve taken a year out to go backpacking or to decide what you want to do: there are still options out there for you.

What's next?

If you’re still not sure, why not take our Career Quiz to find out which careers in property are right for you? It goes off your personality and skills to give you an idea of what you might be well-suited for.

And while you’re at it, check out our Property Explorer page to see what kind of projects you could be involved in if you went into this industry.

What about graduate jobs?

So, if you already know which area of property you want to work in and are not looking to undertake a graduate scheme and qualification, a fixed graduate job could be a good choice. Just a heads up however, you won’t get the experience of other departments to move into in the future if you change your mind as you may with a graduate scheme. Also the best route to the APC for many people is through a formal graduate scheme. A graduate job is a permanent position offered to grads by organisations, where you’ll go straight into a specific role, that sits outside of the scheme, but is an entry level role. Because of this, graduate jobs don’t offer rotations across departments, but they do provide training. You go into one area and develop skills and knowledge within it. There’s a much less structured, shorter application process than that of a standard grad scheme. This type of career move is better for people who have a clear focus on the type of property they’re interested in. These roles tend to be more ad hoc.

You can also find positions that crop up every now and then when required for a company. You’d join the company as a graduate, where you have a degree but you’re not part of a formal, structured scheme. They’re usually in less property-focused areas such as HR, admin, or IT, so not training for an APC.

Ultimately, a graduate scheme is a great way of getting your foot on the ladder and seeing all there is to see of the property industry before committing to your career in full.

Where to find out about graduate schemes

  • Check out the page on our website for more information.
  • Search student and grad websites like Student Ladder – look for vacancies and tips for applying. Student Ladder lists a large number of our partners’ graduate schemes.
  • Contact your uni Careers Service.
  • Apply for a summer internship or a work experience placement. This is really important for getting a handle on the different teams and companies out there before you commit to a certain route. Check out our blog post for more info.
  • Go to employer events/careers fairs at uni – meet hiring teams and find out more.
  • Attend national recruitment exhibitions – network and build your professional reputation.
  • Follow companies on social media – all of our partners are on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and/or TikTok, amongst other sites.
  • Speak to someone at a company you’re interested in. It’s quite useful to create a profile on as then you can begin networking and connecting with the right people for future opportunities.

Apprenticeships - a more detailed outline

Apprenticeships are often billed as ‘earning whilst learning’ – you go into them from school, usually without going to university, and you get a wage whilst gaining the knowledge you need (so, no university debt). They provide an excellent grounding in the property industry, and are an alternative route to uni or a regular job.

This is a chance to become used to working business hours fairly early on in life; once the apprenticeship ends, it won’t be as big a change as those coming into work from the uni experience. It possibly means longer hours and fewer holidays than at school or uni, but you’ll get holiday pay and employee rights!

With an apprenticeship, you learn skills first-hand in a working environment, rather than from a book. You do need to balance work and learning, but you get 20% paid off-the-job time to go towards your studies, so it’s not all in your own time. You’ll also get time off work if you need to re-sit your GCSE Maths and English exams (if you’re under 18). Be aware that most property apprenticeships take from after A Level, but you may find college courses and apprenticeships that feed into them. The best thing to do is to speak to your Careers Office at school, or contact companies directly.

With a range of apprenticeships in business administration, planning, surveying, ICT, and other support roles, you can get a really good feel for the world of property and open up a lot of doors for the future.

What do I need to know to get an apprenticeship in property?

Although you used to find 16 was the usual age for an apprenticeship, there’s now no age limit – 25+ apprenticeships are quite common these days. However, you do have to be at least 16 years old by the time your apprenticeship starts.

You’re entitled to national minimum wage, which you can see the rates for on the Government website, and a lot of employers pay above national minimum wage – but this is dependent on where you are in your apprenticeship and your age. You can also only do a certain number of hours’ work a week, and there are rules about overtime. But it is a steady wage, nonetheless, and the skills you gain are invaluable.

Apprenticeships can take between 12 months to 5 years to complete, and you may need to travel or relocate for the job – although that’s a chance to get out into the world and become independent too.

Applying for a property apprenticeship

You don’t need to have that GCSE or A Level results envelope in your hand in August before applying – you can apply before you leave school, or whenever you want!

Some property firms have apprenticeship intakes, but some hire on an ad hoc basis (‘ad hoc’ essentially just means ‘as and when needed’). Typically for administrative apprenticeships, you can enrol at various times of year (whereas for degree apprenticeships, it generally tends to be two enrolment periods each year) And you can still be employed outside these enrolment periods though!

‘When’s the best time to apply for an apprenticeship?’ we hear you ask. We’d advise getting the ball rolling a good six months before wanting to start, so that you have time to research companies, do interviews, and – most importantly – make sure they’re the right choice for you.

If you’re in school and wanting to start in August/September, apply around February ideally. That way, you’ll not only have enough time, it’ll not interfere with your exams.

The best way to find an apprenticeship is to check out the careers pages of companies to check whether there are any interesting opportunities. For example, our partners, Allsop, Savills, Cushman & Wakefield and Lambert Smith Hampton (amongst others) have dedicated pages specifically for their apprenticeship openings. Or you could look on sites like, UCAS and RateMyApprenceship (which has an apprenticeship and jobs search engine).

You can also find out more information on apprenticeships on our website.

What does an apprenticeship look like in terms of structure?

Undergraduate degree apprenticeship – (BSc - Bachelor of Science)

This is an apprenticeship studied instead of going to university, and you come out with an undergraduate degree at the end.

Year 1: Study first year of BSc
- Work with employer
Year 2: Study second year of BSc
- Work with employer
Year 3: Study third year of BSc
- Work with employer
Year 4: Study fourth year of BSc
- Work with employer
- 1st year training for the APC
Year 5: Study fifth year of BSc
- Work with employer
- 2nd year training for the APC

Postgraduate degree apprenticeship – (MSc - this is the letters of your qualification)

Although there are plenty of apprenticeships that can be done without having to go to uni, there are some you can do to develop yourself after an undergraduate degree - this way, you come out with a Masters degree at the end.

Year 1 (Surveyors and Planners):Study first year of MSc
-Work with employer
-1st year training for the APC
Year 2 (Surveyors and Planners):Study second year of MSc
-Work with employer
-2nd year training for the APC
Year 2 – 2.5 (Surveyors):Work with employer
-Final APC Work and Submission
Year 3 (Planners):Complete Apprenticeship
-Work with employer
-Final APC Submission

Hopefully that’s laid things out in clear detail for you, in terms of how you can get into property without an accredited degree. Ultimately, your path is your own, and there’s no right or wrong one. Every step is a step somewhere – we’re just here to help if you need a bit of direction.

Got questions about routes into property? Get in touch via our contact page and we’ll come back to you in a jiffy.