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Skilled Trade Apprenticeships: What You Need to Know

skilled trade apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have a long and colorful history, going all the way back to ancient times. Apprenticing is how many people have learned their trades. Today, apprenticeships connect people looking for a career with employers who can train them to become qualified employees.

What is a Registered Apprenticeship?

A registered apprenticeship is a program that follows the approved model set by a state apprenticeship agency or the U.S. Department of Labor.

Going into a registered apprenticeship can have you working and learning from day one. In other words, you get to earn money as you learn your trade on the job. The more experience you get, the more your paycheck will be.

You’ll be assigned a mentor in whichever trade you decide to go for, and you’ll learn the ins and outs of that trade. With a registered apprenticeship, you’ll earn a certificate upon completion of your program.

How Long Are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships pay you as you learn the trade, not the other way around. Apprenticeships last anywhere between 1-6 years, with the average being about 4 years.

Your on-the-job training program will usually run 8 hours per day, 5 days per week at 2,000 hours per year. Plus, you’ll have an additional 144 hours of classroom time per year.

One thing to note: Some apprenticeships will require you to take a skills test, have a high school diploma or GED, and have some related work experience. There will be a selection committee interviewing you, because your capabilities and commitment will be weighed.

Benefits of Apprenticeships

Aside from being trained on the job, there are many benefits that go along with being an apprentice. You'll complete your training with years of real-life experience, and you'll feel confident working on your own.

You'll have industry credentials issued by the Department of Labor, so you’ll be able to find employment across the nation.

You'll get paid in accordance with your skill so, the more you learn, the higher your pay is. To start, you’ll be earning around half of what an experienced tradesman earns.

Very often, the company you apprentice for is the company you’ll be employed with once you finish your training.

15 Trades with an Apprenticeship Path

Each trade has similar apprenticeship ground rules. Generally, these include 2,000 hours of on-the-job (OTJ) training, and 144 hours of classroom time. Some will only require you to receive moderate to extensive on-the-job training, along with appropriate experience.

Electrician: Electricians earned an average annual salary of $63,310 in 2021 (, and the job outlook is projected to grow 9% through 2030, opening up many electrical positions that need filling. A high school diploma or GED, along with an apprenticeship is required for the position of electrician.

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitter: This trade earned an average pay of $63,350 in 2021 ( Apprenticeships are the norm, but some go to trade school instead. Either way, an apprenticeship is necessary. Through 2030, 5% growth is expected.

Carpenter: Part of the construction trade, carpenters earned an average pay of $55,190 in 2021 ( Job growth will remain steady due to increased new builds, along with remodels; carpenters are expected to find they will continue to be necessary for emerging infrastructure.

Construction Laborers: Short-term job training is necessary for this entry-level construction position. The average pay in 2021 was $44,130 and the job outlook for construction laborers is 7% ( As a construction laborer, you can find a position in all areas of construction.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers: There are no apprenticeships for this trade, it’s strictly short-term training, usually from attending a truck driving school. Truck drivers earned an average of $50,340 in 2021 (, and job growth is looking average at 6% by 2030.

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers: Apprenticeships, along with long-term on-the-job training are necessary to this trade. In 2021, the average annual pay was $79,060 ( The job growth is projected to remain steady through 2030. For a person with the right technical and mechanical skills, jobs will be available.

Sheet Metal Worker: Two routes are available for sheet metal workers. Construction, which requires an apprenticeship. And manufacturing where you’ll either go to a trade school or receive long-term on-the-job training. They earned an average pay of $58,760 in 2021 (, and have a projected job growth of 4% through 2030. If you are a certified welder, and complete your apprenticeship, then you will likely have great hiring potential.

Structural Iron and Steel Workers: This trade is expected to experience a job growth of 6% through 2030. In 2021, the average pay was $61,270 ( A high school diploma and apprenticeship are needed to get into this trade. Structural framework relies on these professionals who need to be skilled in the installation and placement of steel frames and buildings.

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers: With good employment history and plenty of construction experience, you should be able to find a position in this field. This role is typically learned with moderate on-the-job training, and no formal education or apprenticeships are necessary. In 2021, the average pay for this trade was $54,810 (

Roofer: Many roofers learn their skills on-the-job, while others go through an apprenticeship. There are no specific educational requirements other than experience, however. Slower than average growth is expected for this trade (2%) through 2030. Roofers earned an average annual pay of $48,890 in 2021 (

Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators: Apprenticeships, on-the-job-training, and vocational school are all acceptable ways to learn this trade. The job outlook is 5%, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. The 2021 average pay was $56,280 (

Millwright: The typical way to learn this trade is through a 4-year apprenticeship. Your responsibility will be to install, repair, and upkeep heavy-duty equipment that is used across multiple industries. The job outlook is projected to be 19% through 2030, so if you have all the right qualifications, job prospects should be plentiful. The average salary for millwrights was $61,260 in 2021 (

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: Most employers are looking for HVAC/R Techs to have been certified or to have completed an apprenticeship. With a projected job outlook growth of 5% through 2030, you should have good job prospects if you have the right qualifications and the proper licensing. The average pay for HVAC techs in 2021 was $54,690 (

Painters, Construction and Maintenance: Most people learn this trade through on-the-job experience, and no formal education is required. You will be in construction, working with many surfaces on different buildings. The job outlook is expected to be steady through 2030. In 2021, the average pay was $47,140 (

Elevator Installers and Repairers: An apprenticeship is required for this trade, and 35 states require a license, as well. The job outlook by 2030 is 6%, which is average growth. Between new installations, and repairs of aging elevators, job prospects should be plentiful. The average pay for elevator technicians in 2021 was $91,320 (