Apprentices are provided with on-the-job training, as well as classroom learning, and earn a paycheck while they learn new skills and gain the credentials that will equip them to work within an in-demand occupation. In a 2019 report, Nicholas Wyman, CEO and Founder of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation (IWSI America), said, "Apprenticeships are a powerful option not just for recent high-school graduates. Opportunities also exist for college grads, military veterans, and adult workers seeking a new start."
Since January 1, 2017, over 800,000 Americans have found employment through an apprenticeship program. More than 90% of workers who complete an apprenticeship earn an average of $70,000 annually, and 94% remain employed six months after completion.
Today's apprenticeships aren't all traditional blue-collar programs in construction or manufacturing—though these remain good options to consider. Many apprenticeships are now available with leading employers in diverse industries.
What Is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a career path where individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and an industry and nationally recognized credential. For an employer, an apprenticeship program is a means to train, develop, and prepare their workforce. An apprenticeship program is comprised of five components:
- Paid Employment
- Work-Based Learning
- Classroom Learning
- Professional Credentials
Most apprenticeships involve a combination of work and classroom training. In addition to learning on the job, with some apprenticeship programs, you will attend tuition-free classes either during or after work.
Types of Apprenticeships
Traditionally, apprenticeships were blue-collar training programs in manufacturing, construction, and building trades, but the role of apprenticeships has now expanded to help companies fill white-collar jobs, recruit women and people of color, and build a pipeline of talent to help fill the skills gap in the U.S.
Apprenticeships are available in a variety of industries including advanced manufacturing, health care, financial services, telecommunications, transportation, cybersecurity, engineering, and information technology.
Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs
A college education is expensive and time consuming, and even with a degree, it can be hard to achieve your career goals. An apprenticeship is an alternative path to a career in a high-demand occupation—without the student debt that many college students incur.
Regarding the value of these programs, Wyman told The Balance via LinkedIn, "An opportunity exists to embrace a modern approach to workforce development that can nurture a person's calling, equip them with both the technical and interpersonal skills employers need today, and prepare them for lifelong learning and success.”
For most apprenticeships, you won't need a college degree. In fact, you'll be paid to work while you're training for the job.
With some apprenticeships, your pay will increase as you advance through the program. Additionally, some of these programs provide the opportunity to earn college credit as you participate.
The duration of an apprenticeship program can vary depending on the employer, complexity of the occupation, industry, and type of program. While some apprenticeships are longer term, others fast-track you to employment.
For example, the IBEW Inside Lineman apprenticeship program takes five years to complete. At the other end of the spectrum, the CyberDefenses Cybersecurity Apprentice program takes nine months, while most apprentices in LaunchCode's tech program get hired within three months. Regardless of the length of the program, you'll be paid while you're learning on the job, and your income will increase after completion of the program.
The average salary for apprenticeship graduates is well above the median wage for U.S. workers, and it's only slightly less than the $73,000 college graduates with a bachelor's degree earn.
How to Get an Apprenticeship
There are many sources you can use to find an apprenticeship program that's a match for your career goals. If you're not sure what occupation would be a good fit, CareerOneStop's Work Values Matcher and Interest Assessment tools can help you narrow down the choices.
Start With Apprenticeship.gov
A good starting point for finding a paid apprenticeship is Apprenticeship.gov. You will be able to learn about the benefits of apprenticeships and use the Apprenticeship Finder to assist in the search for apprenticeships in your location.
Get Help From an American Job Center
For help finding a training program, check with your local American Job Center. Assistance will be available via the phone or virtually if the center is temporarily closed and not available for in-person assistance.
Use State Department of Labor Resources
Check with your State Department of Labor. Many state labor departments have information on apprenticeship programs and how to become an apprentice in your location.
Check Local Community Colleges and Trade Schools
Some community colleges and trade schools have apprenticeship programs. For example, the State University of New York has health care and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs that are accessed through participating colleges. Check college websites or search Google for opportunities at schools in your location.
Search Google and leading job sites like Indeed to find listings near you. Search by using the type of work you're interested in and terms such as "apprentice" or "apprenticeship" to find open positions that are currently hiring.
Check the Requirements
Before you apply for an apprenticeship, check the details. Most apprenticeships require a high-school diploma or GED, while others may have program-specific qualifications. For most programs, you'll need to be at least 18 and there is no upper age limit.
Best Apprenticeship Programs
These are just some of the many apprenticeship programs that are available. Spend some time reviewing the options to find the program that's the best fit for you.
Also, use the resources above to explore more opportunities for an apprenticeship that can lead to a rewarding career.
- CyberDefenses: The CyberDefenses Apprenticeship Program offers a nine-month paid training program, including salary, benefits, hands-on experience, certification, and job placement.
- The Hartford: The Hartford's Claims Apprenticeship Program includes a paid position, the opportunity to earn an associate's degree, and a full-time job in the claims department after you complete the program.
- IBM: The IBM Apprenticeship Program is a 12-month program that's designed for candidates without an advanced degree.
- The Juilliard School: Juilliard's Professional Apprentice Program in Technical Theater and Arts Administration is a paid academic year (August-May) program in New York City.
- LaunchCode: LaunchCode offers full-time paid apprenticeships with hiring companies for job seekers interested in tech careers.
- Mercedes-Benz: The Mercedes-Benz DRIVE Technician Training and Development Program is a 16-week automotive service technician training and development program delivered in state-of-the-art training facilities.
- Microsoft Leap Apprenticeship Program: The Leap Apprenticeship Program is an immersive 16-week apprenticeship program that combines in-classroom learning with hands-on engineering projects.
- Military Apprenticeships for Service Members and Veterans: Active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and veterans have a variety of options for pursuing apprenticeships that will enhance their workplace and technical skills.
- Union Apprenticeship Programs: The AFL-CIO has information on construction, building trades, and manufacturing union apprenticeship programs. These apprenticeships are paid and involve on-the-job and classroom instruction.
- Walgreens: The Pharmacy Technician Training Program provides an entry point to a career in health care by guiding you towards becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician.
- Woz Enterprise: Woz Enterprise has one of the largest technology apprenticeship programs in the U.S. Apprentices receive nine weeks of in-depth training, work on real-world projects, and receive a salary.