Apprenticeship programs pack a one-two punch: you'll get on-the-job training
and classroom instruction in an apprentice program.
Apprentices can learn both the practical and theoretical sides of an occupation
to become a highly skilled worker. And more skills mean greater odds of success
in the job market.
"The job market is hot for kids with the right kinds of skills -- 85 percent
of the jobs of the future will require skills acquired in either postsecondary
education or job-training. It's a great time to be an apprentice,"
says Stacey Wagner. She is the managing director of the National Association
of Manufacturers' Center for Workforce Success.
One of the best parts of an apprenticeship is getting paid while you learn.
An apprentice doesn't make the full salary that a journeyperson in the same
The wage for apprentices is based on the journeyperson's hourly wage
in that occupation. Apprentices can get raises until their wages reach
85 to 90 percent of the full journeyperson wage. That's if they do a good
Usually the minimum age for an apprenticeship is 16. Preference is given
to those who have completed high school. The minimum age to be an apprentice
in hazardous occupations can be 18. The availability may depend on where
"If they want to be scientists, they should get internships in laboratories;
if they want to make tools or machines, they should think about apprenticeships
at local manufacturing facilities. But there should always be a combination
of both academics and technical skills training involved," says Wagner.
The terms of apprenticeships vary depending on the trade. Most are
between two and five years. A worker receives an Apprenticeship Completion
Certificate after a successful apprenticeship. This gives the worker recognition
across the U.S. as a qualified journeyperson.
This certificate is issued by a federally approved state apprenticeship
agency or by the Office of Apprenticeship in their state.
Some programs are also accredited through a college in addition to the
approved state agency. This means you can apply for credit towards an associate
degree when you've completed your apprenticeship.
There are a lot of benefits to the apprenticeship model of learning, says
Gerald Nadeau. He is the director of an apprenticeship certification agency.
He says that an apprentice can "progressively experience the trade as one
advances through the program."
His list of pros also includes learning as you earn, graduating without
student loans, spending a short time at school and learning from someone who
has followed the same path.
"The characteristics of an apprenticeship are the 'hands-on' real work
an apprentice does at the worksite. To this end, a good apprentice likes
that type of experience and enjoys working in a close mentor-student relationship,"
Nadeau advises that when you find an employer to sponsor you, you should
make sure they cover the scope of the trade, they agree to provide training,
there is a journeyperson who is willing and able to train you, and they agree
to send you to school when scheduled for training.
In high school, courses related to the trades could help you. Participate
in a youth apprenticeship program if one is offered in your area.
"Taking science, math and art in school can create both a smart and disciplined
mind, and a creative one," advises Wagner.
Extra costs can include tools, safety equipment and textbooks. Depending
on the trade, you may have travel expenses when on-the-job.
U.S. Department of LaborInformation about apprenticeship from the Employment and Training
Career VoyagesHelps you find registered apprenticeships in many industries
in the U.S.
Registered Apprenticeship WebsiteExplains what apprenticeship programs are, and how individuals
can apply to become apprentices