FAQ: What Are Apprenticeships?

Updated July 21, 2022

An apprenticeship is a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience and training in a particular field. Apprenticeships offer the chance to learn from a professional in your industry and obtain hands-on instruction. To make sure an apprenticeship is right for you, it's helpful to learn as much as you can about the length, benefits and the industries in which they're available. In this article, we provide an FAQ about apprenticeships to help you make a more informed career decision.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a program where you learn about a specific career from a highly trained industry professional. During an apprenticeship, you learn specific skills through hands-on learning and also take classes and training courses. Some apprenticeships also offer courses that include college credit. High school graduates can seek apprenticeships as an alternative to attending college to start earning money while gaining a focused education.

The U.S. Department of Labor has industry-recognized apprenticeships that follow a specific set of regulations to maintain high standards. At the end of an accredited apprenticeship, you receive a national certification that shows you completed the necessary practical training and instruction to be a skilled professional. It's helpful to look for these industry-recognized apprenticeship programs because you can use them across the country.

What are some benefits of apprenticeships?

A great benefit to apprenticeships is the opportunity to work one-on-one with a supervisor who answers your questions, gives you individual attention and prepares you to enter the workforce as an experienced professional in a trade. New graduates find apprenticeships advantageous because it is common for the company to offer a permanent position if they do a good job throughout the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships also pay you, so you receive compensation for your work while you train. Many trades that don't require college degrees also can be entered by way of an apprenticeship.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

How long do apprenticeships last?

Apprenticeships most commonly last one to two years but can last as long as six years, depending on the program and profession. For example, an accredited tailor apprenticeship requires 4,000 hours of hands-on training, while an elevator technician apprenticeship requires 2,000 hours. Some programs also last longer if the company requires classes or courses in addition to hands-on training. Often, companies have their apprenticeship lengths already decided beforehand to give apprentices a specific timeline.

What industries offer apprenticeships?

Though apprenticeships were once more common in fields like construction and manufacturing, many industries now offer these programs. Some examples of these fields that now offer apprenticeships include the following:

  • Business administration and law

  • Construction and management

  • Education and training

  • Engineering and science fields

  • Healthcare and public health

  • Information technology

  • Media and publishing

You can find apprenticeships for jobs like tailors, IT technicians, electricians and medical coders. This variety gives you many opportunities to choose from depending on your current skills and interests. Welders and even tattoo artists often begin their careers by way of apprenticeship.

What are the differences between apprenticeships and internships?

Both apprenticeships and internships provide a useful learning experience for a new industry professional, but there are some distinctions between the two. Internships are only a few weeks or one semester, while apprenticeships are long-term. Apprenticeships offer hands-on experience under the supervision of a specialized professional. Meanwhile, internships focus the intern learning from observation by being in a specific industry environment. Apprenticeships almost always offer monetary compensation, while internships don't always pay.

When you are an apprentice, you spend most of your time learning a craft and contributing directly to company work through focused responsibilities. As an intern, you assist employees in various ways, such as running errands, printing documents and helping wherever you are needed.

Related: What Are the Differences Between an Apprenticeship and an Internship?

How do you get an apprenticeship?

Before you begin applying for an apprenticeship, make sure to do your research to inform yourself of the opportunities available. Consider visiting your local career center to learn about apprenticeship programs in your area. When searching for the right apprenticeship, you can follow these steps:

1. Reflect on what it is you're looking for in your career

Apprenticeships are long-term commitments that provide opportunities for careers. To ensure you use your time in the best way possible, it could be helpful to consider what you want to do professionally in the next five to 10 years.

2. Search for apprenticeships

When searching for apprenticeships, use job sites and professional social media platforms to find opportunities that are a good fit for you. You can also find accredited apprenticeships on government websites. Consider your network and communicate with people in your field who might know of any companies looking for new apprentices.

3. Revise and submit your resume

Revising your current resume to suit the posting's requirements is crucial when applying to apprenticeships. Review your resume and cater to the company's needs by reading their posting carefully. For example, if an apprenticeship program needs someone skilled in information technology and you have this experience, expand on this information in your resume.

4. Create an apprenticeship cover letter

Creating a strong cover letter can help get you noticed at a company looking to hire an apprentice. In your cover letter, share your interest in the company and the opportunity. Cover letters show your passion for the field and give you the opportunity to put into words exactly what drew you to the opportunity.

5. Fill out all other application materials

Most apprenticeship opportunities require you to fill out an application in addition to submitting a resume and cover letter. Make sure you read the apprenticeship application carefully to certify you turn in all the necessary materials.

6. Apply to many apprenticeships

Finding the right apprenticeship requires time and patience because an excellent apprenticeship program suits your needs as a student and a professional. Make sure to apply to several apprenticeship programs to effectively circulate your resume and increase your chances of having many options to choose from.

7. Contact the company directly

If you are very interested in a specific apprenticeship program, consider contacting the company directly. Think of whether you know anyone in your professional network affiliated with the company, and ask them to introduce you. The company might be actively seeking an apprentice, so you contacting them might speed up the process for both of you.


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