Is an Apprenticeship Right for You?

What Is an Apprenticeship?

When you hear the word “apprentice,” what comes to mind? You might picture a person working for a blacksmith back in the 19th century or Mickey Mouse wearing a wizard’s hat and getting into a lot of mischief.

Although there’s a common assumption that apprenticeships are things of the past, but the truth is that they are alive and well today and are an ideal way to train for a career. An apprenticeship provides you with the opportunity to work in your chosen field as you learn. As an apprentice, you begin working with a company, who acts as your sponsor. You also complete classroom training and receive instruction.

According to the US Department of Labor, an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program needs to have five key components[1]:

  • Work-based learning
  • Mentorship
  • Paid work
  • Instructional and educational component
  • Industry-recognized credential

Apprenticeships are available in a variety of industries, including construction and education. If you are interested in working as you learn, here’s what you need to know about becoming an apprentice.

What Happens During an Apprenticeship?

When a person becomes an apprentice, they are hired by the employer who is sponsoring the apprenticeship program. Along with working for the employer and earning wages, an apprentice will receive training on the job, typically under the supervision of a mentor. On-the-job training during an apprenticeship program is based on industry standards and is intended to teach the apprentice the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in their job[2].

Another component of an apprenticeship is outside instruction, which allows apprentices to develop the competencies they’ll need to succeed. Typically, employers who sponsor apprenticeship programs will partner with schools such as Orange Technical College to develop the curriculum for the program. The additional instruction can take place in a classroom setting, at the job site, or online[2].

If the instruction you receive as an apprentice is offered by a public institution, you don’t have to pay tuition or other fees.

How Can You Find an Apprenticeship?

If you are interested in working as an apprentice and training on the job, your first step is to find an apprenticeship program in the industry that interests you. You can talk to the admissions staff at Orange Technical College to learn more about available apprenticeship opportunities.

Another option is to look at the Apprenticeship Finder[3] offered by the US Department of Labor. Using the Apprenticeship Finder, you can search by the name your desired occupation and industry and your location. You’ll get a list of results and can review the requirements of each apprentice program. Program requirements are created by the employers.

Once you’ve found an apprenticeship that seems like a good fit for you, you apply for the program through the employer.

How Much Can You Earn as an Apprentice?

The salary or hourly rate you earn as an apprentice varies based on the industry you are working and training in. The most important thing to note is that when you participate in an apprenticeship program, you are an employee and you will get paid. The average starting wage for apprentices is about $15 per hour[2].

Another thing worth noting about apprenticeship training is that you earn more money as you move through the program. Programs typically last anywhere from one to six years. As you complete each year as an apprentice, you’re likely to get a raise. As you build your skills and knowledge base, you can expect to see your earnings increase, even while you are still an apprentice.

What Happens Once You Complete the Apprenticeship?

After you’ve completed your apprenticeship program, you’ll be trained and ready to continue working in your chosen occupation and industry. You’ll receive a nationally-recognized credential that you can use to move up in the industry or when applying for another job.

Apprentices who finish their training programs are usually recognized as “journeymen” in their industry. A journeyman is someone who’s skilled and recognized as having the competence and knowledge needed to perform the tasks and responsibilities of their chosen occupation.

Orange Technical College offers apprenticeship training programs in several occupations, working with a several area employers. If you are interested in learning more about our program and available apprenticeships, visit one of our five campuses and meet with an admissions officer today.

Sources:

  1. “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program”, Apprenticeship.gov, https://www.apprenticeship.gov/industry-recognized-apprenticeship-program
  2. “Apprenticeship Toolkit”, US Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/toolkit/toolkitfaq.htm
  3. “Apprenticeship Finder”, Apprenticeship.gov, https://www.apprenticeship.gov/finder/listings

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