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Highest Paying Apprenticeships

There are many manual labor jobs that individuals can qualify for after completing an apprenticeship training program. While apprentices usually make less than their fully trained counterparts, there are some jobs that do offer higher paying apprenticeships.

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Career Options for Jobs with High-Paying Apprenticeships

Jobs that require apprenticeships are usually in manual labor and hands-on fields. Apprenticeships allow individuals to follow a professional who works in the field of their choice in order to learn all the ins-and-outs of the trade so that they can be successful in the future. While workers in these fields usually earn higher-than-average pay, apprentices generally make a percentage of that potential income while they are in the apprenticeship. Thus, the highest-paying apprenticeships generally are in the highest-paying fields. We will look at several careers below that require apprenticeships and offer high pay.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Electricians $52,720 14%
Pile-Driver Operators $55,070 17%
Carpenters $43,600 6%
Elevator Installers and Repairers $78,890 13%
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters $51,450 12%
Ironworkers $50,830 9%
Machinists and Tool and Die Makers $43,160 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Career Information for Jobs with High-Paying Apprenticeships

Electricians

Electricians are responsible for installing electrical wiring, doing repairs, and installing lighting in various types of homes and buildings. These professionals must know how to read blueprints and building plans in order to know where to place the wiring and they must also be able to identify various electrical problems, often with the help of testing equipment. To become an electrician, you will need to go to technical school and then complete a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship program. The BLS states that apprentices can expect to earn approximately 40-50% of the salary of a fully trained electrician. In 2016, electricians made a median salary of $52,720, so an apprentice earning 50% of that amount would make $26,360.

Pile-Driver Operators

Pile-drivers are a type of construction equipment that is used during the construction of bridges, piers, retaining walls, and the foundations of large buildings. The operator is responsible for directing this heavy piece of equipment as it hammers wooden or steel piles into the ground. Access to this job can be obtained by completing a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program in which apprentices will have at least 144 hours of instruction along with 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. During this time, they can expect to make around 60-70% of the salary of a fully-trained operator (BLS). These professionals made a median salary of $55,070 in 2016, so an apprentice earning 70% of this amount would make $38,549.

Carpenters

Carpenters work on various types of construction projects, from building houses to cabinets. They also handle repairs or reconstruction, typically on projects that involve working with wood. To become a carpenter, you will need to complete a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program that involves learning how to read blueprints, understanding safety and building codes, and learning the trade of carpentry. While in the apprenticeship program, apprentices earn 30-50% of what a trained carpenter makes (BLS). The median salary of a carpenter was $43,600 in 2016, so apprentices could have made $21,800.

Elevator Installers/Repairers

Elevator installers and repairers work on existing elevators that are malfunctioning in order to repair them, as well as install new elevators. Beyond elevators, they also often work on escalators and moving walkways. To become an elevator installer or repairer, you will need to complete a 4-year apprenticeship program to learn directly from a professional. During an apprenticeship program, apprentices usually make around 50% of the salary of a trained installer or repairer, or around $39,445 (BLS). However, apprentices who are also certified welders may qualify for more money during their apprenticeship.

Plumbers/Pipefitters/Steamfitters

One key part of constructing a new home, business, factory, or many other types of structures is installing proper plumbing. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters all are involved in installing pipes of different kinds based on blueprints and building plans. These professionals also repair plumbing systems that are broken or malfunctioning in some way. Apprentices must complete 4 or 5-year apprenticeship programs, during which they will earn between 30-50% ($15-435-$25,725) of the salary for trained plumbers (BLS).

Ironworkers

Ironworkers are professionals who work with iron and steel in the construction and repair of structures made from these materials, like bridges and buildings. They must be able to connect pieces of iron and steel, properly reinforce them, and collaborate with other building professionals to make sure the job is done correctly and safely. To become an ironworker, you will need to complete a 3- to 4-year apprenticeship. Fully trained ironworkers made a median salary of $47,200 in 2016, while apprentices made between 50-55% of that rate, or around $23,600-$25,960 (BLS).

Machinists/Tool and Die Makers

As a machinist, toolmaker, or die maker, you are responsible for manufacturing different types of tools and instruments using various pieces of machine tools. In order to do this, you must be able to read blueprints and design plans and know how to operate machinery. To learn this trade, you have the option of completing an apprenticeship program that lasts several years. During this time, your pay level would be directly related to your level of skill. As these fully trained professionals made a median salary of $43,160 in 2016, you could expect to make a salary somewhere below that point.

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