Why Doing an Apprenticeship Program Might Make Sense for You

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An apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training with academic instruction for those entering the workforce. Also called dual-training programs because of the combined occupational and in-class components, apprenticeships help individuals put their academic skills to practical use in various careers.

Whereas internships are most often short-term, rarely lasting more than a year, apprenticeship programs can last for as many as four or five years. Apprenticeships also differ from internships in terms of monetary gain. Most apprentices got paid, with salary increases similar to employed workers, as the apprentice moves forward and completes various parts of the program. Work as an apprentice can lead to a permanent union job or a non-union position in your field.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs

The Office of Apprenticeship within the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration provides a number of Registered Apprenticeship programs. These are apprenticeships approved by the government which often receive workforce development grants and tax benefits. Registered Apprenticeship programs offer career training in areas such as carpentry, home health care, electrical work, law enforcement, construction, manufacturing, and technology.

How to Find an Apprenticeship Program

The Department of Labor has a tool you can use to find apprenticeships near you. Additionally, Glassdoor has a tool you can use to find apprenticeship/trainee programs. The Glassdoor tool includes both registered and non-registered trainee and apprenticeship opportunities.

The Difference Between Apprenticeships and Internships

If you think that an internship and an apprenticeship are the same, or similar, you couldn't be farther off the mark. Apprenticeships are formal, paid, long-term training programs that provide valuable classroom instruction coupled with on-the-job training for skilled high paying jobs. They are also supported by the U.S. Government.

Interns, on the other hand, may be paid for their work but most likely they work for free for the experience. Also, most interns are young college students interested in testing out a possible career choice. And, internships are for a short duration and don't provide any formal certification, although they can lead to employment opportunities.

Data and Statistics

According to the US Government, an individual employer, group of employers, or an industry association can sponsor a Register Apprenticeship program, sometimes in partnership with a labor organization. Programs are operated on a voluntary basis and are often supported by partnerships consisting of a community-based organization, educational organization, the workforce system, and other stakeholders.

In the fiscal year 2016, the US Government noted the following participants and trends in registered apprentice programs:

Apprentices and Participation Trends

  • More than 206,500 individuals nationwide entered the apprenticeship system.
  • Nationwide, there are over 505,000 apprentices currently obtaining the skills they need to succeed while earning the wages they need to build financial security.
  • Over 49,000 participants graduated from the apprenticeship system in FY 2016.

Apprentices Sponsors and Trends

  • There are more than 21,000 registered apprenticeship programs across the nation.
  • Over 1,700 new apprenticeship programs were established nationwide in FY 2016.

Examples: George was in the electrical worker union's apprenticeship training program for a period of five years. He worked on the job as an apprentice during the day and took between two and three classes each semester, attending school several evenings a week.

Related Articles: What is an Internship?