Apprentice Programs for Veterans

Jan 02, 2019

Apprenticeship programs are equally beneficial to veterans and employers. This article lists apprenticeships that provide veterans with specialized skills for a civilian career. Each apprenticeship is discussed along with comparable military positions.

Apprenticeship programs enable veterans to earn a progressively increasing salary while learning specialized skills that can help them translate their military experience to civilian job requirements. Employers build a skilled workforce without the cost of training and recruitment. The apprenticeships programs listed below are approved for GI Bill benefits. We will explore each program and comparable military positions.

Program Comparison

Apprenticeship Type Apprenticeship Length Location Starting Wage Per Hour Military Benefits
Helmets to Hardhats 3-5 years Nationwide Depends on trade Veterans benefits
Air Conditioning Mechanic, Air Conditioning Specialist 5 years (mechanic); 2 years (specialist) San Leandro, California $16.49 per hour (mechanic), $14.33 per hour (specialist) Veterans benefits, college credit for past experience
Biomedical Equipment Technician 4 years San Francisco, California Not available Veterans benefits
Elevator Constructor Not Available Nationwide Not Available Veterans benefits
Electrician 5 years Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito County, California $19.42 per hour Veteran benefits

Sources: State Government Websites

Apprentice Programs for Veterans

Apprenticeship programs benefit employers by building a skilled workforce. Veterans gain a journeyman status for their trade and a lifelong civilian career. This list contains apprenticeship programs that use the G.I. Bill to compensation veterans. We will describe each program's requirements and the job responsibilities.

Helmets to Hardhats

Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) is a non-profit organization that veterans can access to find construction industry apprenticeship programs. Prior military construction experience as a construction equipment repairer (91L), engineer officer (12A), plumber (12A), or technical engineer (12T) are just a few of the military positions that will transition well to this apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeship programs through Helmets to Hardhats last three to five years. Veterans learn a specialized construction trade skill, obtain a credential and secure their job. They also receive a salary while training and can supplement their income using the Montgomery G.I. Bill benefit. The apprentice positions offered in this program include electrical worker, carpenter, operating engineer, plumber fitter, bricklayer/craftworker, elevator constructor, laborer, insulator, ironworker, painter, plasterer, roofer, sheet metal worker, and boilermaker.

Air Conditioning Mechanic/Specialist

Bay Area Sheet Metal J.A.C. offers an apprenticeship program for an air conditioning mechanic and an air conditioning specialist. A heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration specialist in the Air Force (3E1X1) or refrigeration and air conditioning technician in the Marine Corps (1161) are examples of prior military occupations that fit well into this apprenticeship program.

An Air Force HVAC-R specialist has experience installing, operating, and repairing air conditioning systems, while a Marine Corps refrigeration and air conditioning technician not only installs and repairs air conditioning systems but is also certified to work with chlorofluorocarbons.

The air conditioning mechanic's apprenticeship is 5 years with a starting wage of $16.49 per hour. The air conditioning specialist's apprenticeship is for 2 years and pays $14.33 per hour.

Biomedical Equipment Technician

The Northern California & Northern Nevada Stationary Engineers J.A.C. offers an apprenticeship program for a biomedical equipment technician. Individuals with prior military experience as an Army biomedical equipment specialist (35U and 68A) or Air Force biomedical equipment technician (4A231) bring comparable skills to this apprenticeship.

Army biomedical equipment technicians repair and supervise the repair of all types of biomedical equipment. Air Force biomedical equipment technicians maintain medical equipment used in medical treatment facilities and air transportable hospitals.

Elevator Constructor

The elevator constructor apprenticeship is sponsored jointly by the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) and the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC). Navy electrical systems technicians (EM) have experience repairing shipboard elevators that they can bring to this apprenticeship.

As elevator constructors, apprentices help mechanics install and maintain freight and passenger elevators, dumbwaiters, and escalators. Applicants must pass the Elevator Industry Aptitude Test (EIAT) to qualify for this program.


The Tri-County Electrical J.A.T.C. sponsors an apprenticeship program for electricians. Army electrician (51R), Marine Corps electrician (1141), and Navy construction electrician (CE) are some of the electrician positions in the military that could fare well as electrician apprentices.

Electricians in the military have experience installing both interior and exterior wiring to voltage power sources and generators, maintaining underground and overhead electrical systems, and, in some cases, supervising the installation and maintenance of electric and wire communication systems.

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