Apprenticeships are available in almost every field and can greatly increase your chances of finding a high-paying job.

While acquiring an apprenticeship can be challenging, you can rest assured that apprenticeships are invaluable investments for any worker trying to advance in their chosen career. Discover how apprenticeships function, if you qualify for them and how you can benefit from getting one. The following sections explain everything you need to know about apprenticeships so you can make an informed decision before applying.

What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are proven strategies for training and preparing workers for employment. While the structure of apprenticeships differs depending on the businesses, they are usually paid positions that teach workers the skills necessary to perform the duties required for a particular job. Because apprenticeships are fairly prestigious and popular, applicants must demonstrate that they have the skills and strengths needed to succeed in an apprenticeship position via interviews, testing and other employer evaluations.

There are many types of apprenticeships determined by the fields in which they are offered. From interior design to administration work, you can find apprenticeships that cover nearly every field. In an apprenticeship, you will be working with experts and your fellow coworkers to learn the daily duties involved in a position, similar to how an on-the-job training program would work.

Worker apprenticeships are typically connected to apprenticeship programs and feature various educational opportunities. These may include classroom lessons and training, as well as hands-on learning opportunities. The basic components of standard apprenticeship programs include the following:

  • Business involvement – Because apprenticeship programs require the collaboration of the employers to function, this component establishes the employers as active members of the program. Often, employers create apprenticeship councils, industry associations and other partnerships with participating institutions or organizations to maintain apprenticeships.
  • On-the-job training (OJT) – Mentors guide apprentices through hands-on training at the workplace, making sure the apprentice’s needs and concerns are addressed and that they become proficient at their new job.
  • Curriculum – Curriculum for the academic and technical instruction that applies to the job is created by both the employer and institution. Apprentices may receive this instruction at community colleges, technical schools or apprenticeship training schools. They may also learn it from their coworkers through job shadowing. Curriculum information may be distributed in a classroom, online or at the job site.
  • Nationally-recognized credentials – These credentials indicate that the apprentice is ready and qualified for the job they have been trained for. After receiving the credentials, most apprentices are given regular positions at the company or business they trained with.

Who can get apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship has different eligibility criteria depending on the job training you want to undergo. Only workers who are 16 years of age or older may apply for apprenticeships, but most apprenticeship programs set their minimum age requirements at 18 years of age. Other factors that may either qualify or prevent you from earning an apprenticeship position are provided below:

  • Your education requirements and grades (e.g., post-secondary education)
  • Your physical ability
  • Your score on aptitude tests or other examinations
  • Your previous work experiences
  • Your application interviews

However, even if you are eligible for an apprenticeship based on the above factors, you may still be rejected based on specific qualifications some apprenticeships may enforce. For instance, some apprenticeship programs require you to be enrolled at an approved post-secondary institution or to be a member of a certain organization. Additionally, you may need to prove your aptitude in math, grammar, or any other trade by passing exams or earning certificates. In these cases, a college or organization is usually a partner or associate of the business offering the apprenticeship, as they provide further academic training and certification in combination with the apprenticeship.

However, even after meeting specific qualifications, it may still be difficult to get an apprenticeship, as these positions are usually reserved for those who the company believes will add value to their business. A list of the types of workers who can obtain apprenticeships is as follows:

  • Current employees at a company hoping to improve their skills.
  • New employees learning the requirements of their jobs.
  • Potential employees wanting to join a company. These may be students or residents.

You are encouraged to contact employers directly to determine your eligibility for their apprenticeship programs as every program varies greatly depending on the company and the institution it is connected to.

Benefits of Apprenticeships

Employers view apprenticeships as an investment to produce a skilled workforce, so apprentices may experience great benefits that encourage them to work harder and better. For example, most apprenticeships pay apprentices wages equal to that of other employees. On average, apprentices make $15 per hour as a starting wage, but they may receive wage increases and bonuses if they advance quickly through their training. This is a benefit unique to apprenticeship programs.

Another benefit of apprenticeships is that they virtually guarantee you a decent job. After you complete an apprenticeship program with them, companies tend to hire you because they know you are familiar with the work and are qualified to continue working for them. This also saves companies the trouble of having to train another worker to do what you spent months learning. Having the job security that accompanies apprenticeships is a great benefit, especially if you are planning to remain local.

Not only can apprenticeships help you find work, but they also give you tremendous experience that can complement any resume and enable you to navigate the professional world of your chosen career. While most apprenticeships do lead to long-term employment, the experience you gain in apprenticeship can also help you find work in other cities or states more easily.

Apprenticeships can allow you to make lasting connections with professionals in the field of your choosing, and these connections can help you find positions for which you may be better suited and opportunities for advancement. Field connections can also help you develop noteworthy references on your resume, which will aid your professional career in the future.

How are apprenticeships different from internships?

Although both apprenticeships and internships are hands-on learning opportunities for workers, they are very different. Internships are intended for students or recent graduates who are seeking employment to explore job opportunists, whereas an apprenticeship involves more commitment than traditional job searching. Because of this, apprentices are generally older than interns and may already have job experience.

A big difference between apprenticeships and internships is their availability. There are easily more internships than apprenticeships, and this can be attributed to the types of jobs apprentices perform. Most apprenticeships are offered in a skilled fields such as engineering or telecommunications, while internships are usually available in most every field. Apprenticeships are also longer than internships, frequently lasting years rather than a few months, as an apprentice is expected to perfect the skills he or she learn while interns only get a taste of what it is like to work in the field.

Another difference is the expense of each programs. Internships are usually unpaid, but you are almost always paid standard wages in apprenticeship programs. Although some internships award stipends or nominal wages, apprenticeships usually pay you enough to comfortably pay your own rent.

Finally, internships do not guarantee in-depth knowledge or mastery of skills in a certain field, while apprenticeships give you real-world training and experience mixed with academic instruction. Consequently, apprentices are considered regular employees and receive tasks directly related to their fields, while interns rarely get the chance to do any hands-on work. Additionally, unlike apprenticeships, internships do not grant you employment after your internship is over.

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