How Do Modern Apprenticeship Programs Work?

Apprenticeship programs have evolved and are no longer vocational training programs for boys and young men. Many occupations offer modern apprenticeship programs. View article »

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  • 0:01 Modern Apprenticeship Overview
  • 0:35 Sponsoring Employers
  • 0:57 Program Requirements
  • 1:30 Available Programs

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Video Transcript

Modern Apprenticeship Overview

Program Format Classroom instruction combined with on-the-job training
Program Length Typically 4 years, but can range from 1-6 depending on the field
Program Sponsors Most apprenticeships are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and sponsored by either employers or trade organizations and labor unions
Common Fields Carpenter, electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, roofers, and painters; computer programmer, dental assistants, insurance claims adjusters and culinary arts professionals
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent; 18+ years old

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Modern apprenticeship programs provide both on-the-job training and classroom instruction, allowing apprentices to earn wages while learning a trade. Apprentices usually start by taking on simple tasks and progress to more complex tasks as time goes on. At the end of the program, the apprentice receives a certificate of completion and achieves journey worker status. Modern apprenticeship programs can last about four years, but some span 1-6 years. In contrast to historical apprenticeships, modern programs are open to both men and women.

Sponsoring Employers

Most formal apprenticeship programs are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, which guarantees that the programs meet its standards. Labor unions, employer associations and independent organizations, such as the National Association of Home Builders and Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc., sponsor apprenticeship programs to train workers in their trades.

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Program Requirements

Prospective apprentices usually need to be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. An agreement between the sponsor and the apprentice outlines the specifics of the apprenticeship program. Signing the agreement also indicates that the sponsor promises to train the apprentice and that the apprentice, in turn, promises to perform the assigned duties. 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of work experience must be completed for most registered apprenticeship programs.

Available Programs

Apprenticeship programs can be completed in many skilled fields that offer on-the-job training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the most popular apprenticeships in 2012 included programs for carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, roofers, and painters. Although apprenticeships in construction and manufacturing trades are popular, apprenticeships are also available in computer programming, dental assisting, insurance claims adjustment and culinary arts.

Apprenticeship programs usually last 4 years, but can require up to 144 hours of classroom instruction, 2000 hours of work experience, and are most popular in the fields of carpentry, electricity, and plumbing, painters construction, and manufacturing.

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