How an Apprenticeship Can Help Your Career

A woman working on reparing a bike chain

If the term “apprentice” conjures images in your head of craftsmen in the Middle Ages and waiters in Colonial Williamsburg, it’s time to revise your assumptions. Apprenticeships are very popular today to help skilled laborers find solid employment.

Whether you have your eye on a career in automotive repair or healthcare, an apprenticeship could be the key to your future success.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a structured program that offers an alternative to a four-year college. Consider it a “learn while you earn” model that prepares workers while simultaneously giving businesses access to affordable labor.

Most blue-collar and skilled trade industries offer apprenticeship programs to train future employees. Unlike internships, which are usually unpaid and designed to give students experience in an industry related to their degree, apprenticeships are paid positions that deliver valuable on-the-job training.

As an apprentice, you practice, train, and learn under the wing of experts. You’re paid to work under the supervision of these experienced workers who teach you essential lessons and in-depth instruction in technical areas.

Where to Find an Apprenticeship

With more than 22,000 formal apprenticeship programs in the United States, it’s relatively easy to find an apprenticeship aligned with your career goals. Some industries cater more frequently to apprenticeships than others.

You’re most likely to find apprenticeship opportunities in the following sectors:

  • Construction
  • Automotive Repair
  • Hospitality (i.e. hotels and food preparation)
  • Energy (i.e. power plant operations and power line maintenance)
  • Advanced manufacturing (i.e. machinists and industrial maintenance)
  • Healthcare (i.e. paramedics, pharmacy technicians, nursing aides)
  • Information technologies (i.e. cabling, computer repair)

Check with local community colleges, trade schools, and hiring agencies to find apprenticeship programs in your area.

Depending on the specific apprenticeship program you select, it may be as short as one year or as long as six years. Most programs include a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction for every 2,000 workplace training hours.

How to Use an Apprenticeship to Help Your Career

An apprenticeship isn’t something to shrug off. Quite the opposite! The right apprenticeship program can help you master a comprehensive skill set that’s very valuable in your selected career path.

By accepting the condition of earning less money in exchange for on-the-job training, you can fast-track your career by building social capital managers and business owners. It’s much easier for apprentices to climb the company ladder than new hires who lack such extensive training and experience.

Better yet, if you can demonstrate ongoing initiative and competence during your apprenticeship, you’ll receive growing responsibilities that lead to higher supervisory opportunities (and better pay!).

These aren’t the only ways to use an apprenticeship to turbo-charge your career. Check out these other benefits:

  • Make connections with important figures in your industry- and earn their trust
  • Select an apprenticeship in an in-demand industry to enjoy strong job security and high wages
  • Earn a certificate to demonstrate your industry experience in any future job applications
  • Take advantage of competitive apprenticeship program benefits to secure health insurance, paid vacations, pension plans, and other potential perks

The Final Word

Though our society places an enormous focus on four-year college education, that’s not the best path for everybody! If you have your eye on a career as a skilled worker, and apprenticeship program offers valuable opportunities for success.

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