Welcome to apprenticeship!
Apprenticeship is an exciting and dynamic way to earn while you learn and prepare for a career in fields like allied health, information technology, transportation, energy, advanced manufacturing or the skilled trades.
At a time when many are concerned about taking out student loans to earn a degree that may or may not lead to a well paying job, apprenticeships provide a great alternative.
Apprenticeship begins with a job and pays wages from the start. And many apprentices earn college credits – and in some cases even a college certificate or degree – for the learning that takes place during an apprenticeship program.
For those who prefer to learn on the job rather than in a classroom, or who prefer teachers who are experienced workers rather than academic theorists, apprenticeship provides a time-proven way to launch, grow or transition your career.
What’s on this page?
General job and career websites
Apprenticeship opportunities are often advertised on well-known job sites. Use “apprenticeship” as a search term or filter on these sites.
Why choose apprenticeship?
The main difference between college and apprenticeship is that a college student spends years in a classroom before looking for a job, whereas an apprentice is employed in his or her profession from the first day, and works with their employer to gain the knowledge and skills required to advance in their position. There are other differences as well. For instance:
- Apprenticeship training takes place primarily on the job, under the supervision and guidance of experienced workers.
- There are no charges to the apprentice for the training and education they receive.
- Apprentices are PAID to work and learn, thereby earning a credential without taking on any student loan debt.
- Apprentices are guaranteed wage increases as they moves through the program based on a written agreement between the apprentice and the employer.
- When you complete your apprenticeship you earn a credential from the U.S. Department of Labor and also may earn college credits — or even a college degree — at the employer’s expense.
- Because apprentices are employees of the sponsoring company or organization, they often receive all of the benefits extended to permanent employees, including health insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and paid leave.
Who Can Enroll in an Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships can be designed for high school juniors and seniors, in which case they are called youth apprenticeships, or they can be designed for adults of all ages. Some people enter an apprenticeship program to prepare for their first career while others rely on apprenticeship to transition to a new career or qualify for a higher-level position. Most employers require adult apprentices to hold a high school diploma or Graduate Equivalence Degree.
For the most part, apprenticeship sponsors and employers seek individuals who are eager to work and learn, who perform well as part of a team and who are motivated to gain new knowledge and skills. Some apprenticeship sponsors require apprentices to hold a personal or commercial driver’s license prior to entering the program. Because of the highly technical nature of some apprenticeships, many employers or sponsors require applicants and apprentices to pass routine drug testing. *
What Kinds of Organizations Offer Apprenticeships?
Any company can offer an apprenticeship, but companies or sponsors offering registered apprenticeships have been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency. Apprentices who complete those programs earn an industry-recognized, national credential.
Labor unions have a long and proud history of apprenticeship, with labor-management Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATC) providing training to new workers in a given occupation and geographic region. In many cases, a National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee works with employers, union representatives and skilled workers to develop standards that guide training programs across the country. JATCs often operate stand-alone, state-of-the-art training facilities where apprentices gather as a group to gain the knowledge and skills required to succeed in their on-the-job training (OJT). The OJT takes place within companies and organizations that are signatories of the JATC agreement. Apprentices that complete union-sponsored apprenticeships are called journey workers.
To find a union apprenticeship, look for education and training programs on national union websites or the website of your closest union “local.” You might also find union apprenticeships on electronic job boards. Enter “apprenticeship,” the industry in which you are interested and your state of residence (e.g. plumbing apprenticeships in Maryland). Your state department of labor may also post union apprenticeship opportunities in your area.
Find an apprenticeship in a large company
Other apprenticeship programs are sponsored by individual employers, groups of employers, trade associations or other professional groups.
Small companies may offer their own programs, or may work through organizations called “intermediaries” who help connect employers with potential apprentices.
There are a number of “apprenticeship intermediaries” in the U.S. — entities that work with both employers and apprentices to design, provide and recruit participants for apprenticeship programs.
A number of organizations across the country have been contracted by the the Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship opportunities in the US. Their websites provide information about apprenticeship opportunities across the country.
DOL Contract Intermediaries
- AFL-CIO Working for America Institute
- AHIMA Foundation
- Chicago Women in Trades
- H-CAP, Inc.
- Jobs for the Future
- National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Inc.
- National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
- National Urban League
- North Carolina A&T State University
- South Central Louisiana Technical College – Young Memorial Campus
- North America’s Building Trades Unions
- Washington Technology Industry Association
How Should I Choose an Apprenticeship?
Enrolling in an apprenticeship program is a big commitment, and one that should not be taken lightly. Prior to enrolling, be sure to find out how long the apprenticeship program will last and what will be required of you to complete the program. Also determine whether the apprenticeship is registered or not. An unregistered program may be high quality, but it will not result in a nationally recognized credential issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, which may make it less portable.
Employers or sponsors should provide the apprentice with a written apprenticeship agreement that must be signed by both the employer (or sponsor) and the apprentice. Read this apprenticeship agreement carefully to understand what is expected of you, what you can expect from the employer or sponsor, what wages will be paid, and what benefits will be available to you.
What Kinds of Things Will I Learn in an Apprenticeship?
The majority of an apprenticeship program involves on-the-job training under the supervision of expert workers and mentors. While in training, you will learn things like:
- workplace safety and etiquette,
- the rules or policies that guide your work,
- the specific tools and techniques used to perform the job,
- quality assurance measures used to assess work quality and
- record keeping related to the work.
You will also be engaged in some classroom instruction, either at the job site, a specialized facility, online or at a career or community college. While some apprenticeships may include college courses or even a college degree, many provide streamlined and specialized courses designed to support the exact work the apprentice is doing on the job.
Get more info
Go to our US Apprentices page for extensive information on apprenticeships in a range of fields.
And see what apprenticeships in other countries are like on our International page.
* Note that even in states where marijuana is legal, individuals who test positive for marijuana may be excluded from apprenticeship programs due to insurance rules, Department of Transportation requirements or other laws and regulations that supersede state marijuana laws.
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