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What You Need To Know About Apprenticeships

What you need to know about apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have a long and colorful history. Where they are highly entered into in Europe, America is lagging behind and needs to catch up. Registered apprenticeships connect those looking for a job with employers looking for qualified employees. Wisconsin was the first state to create a registered apprenticeship, and it was in 1935 when the United States jumped on board with the Fitzgerald Act, celebrating its 80th birthday this year.

What Is A Registered Apprenticeship?

Going into a registered apprenticeship will have you working and learning from day one. In other words, you earn as you learn. And, 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 in’s and outs of that trade. With a registered apprenticeship, you’ll earn a certificate upon completion of your ‘program’.

How Much Do They Cost & How Long Are They?

Nothing. Seriously. Registered apprenticeships pay you as you learn the trade, not the other way around. There are approximately 21,000 programs and over 500,000 apprentices in the registered apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships last anywhere between 1-6 years, with the average being about four years. Some apprenticeships have an agreement with community colleges and trade schools, so you’ll have that educational classroom facet of learning your trade, as well. Plus, the credits you’ll earn can be applied toward a degree, if you become so inclined. 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. Classes are usually scheduled in the evening, after you have put in your full 8 hours of apprenticeship on-the-job training.

One thing to note: Applying for a job and applying for an apprenticeship are very much the same process. However, 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. Don’t worry though; if you show passion, it will be duly noted.

What Are The Benefits?

Aside from being trained on the job, there are many benefits that go along with being an apprentice. You complete your training with experience so you’re ready to jump in and start earning in your chosen trade. You have the highest standard of industry credentials because registered apprenticeships come with diplomas once they are completed. Not just any diploma, but one issued by the Department of Labor that is good across the nation so, no matter the economy in your area, you’ll be able to find employment elsewhere. You get paid in accordance with your skill so, the more you learn, the higher your pay is. But to start, you’ll be earning around half of what an experienced tradesman earns. Another cool thing about apprenticeships is that you have no college debt so, the minute you start earning a salary, it doesn’t go to paying off any school loans.

Very often, the company you apprentice for is the company you’ll be employed with once you finish your training. So, you don’t have to get used to a new employer and their ways, you already have your foot all the way inside the door.

Top 15 Trade Occupations

Each trade has similar apprenticeship ground rules. 2,000 hours of 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 earn a median annual salary of $53K, and the job outlook is expected to grow 14% through 2024, 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 earns a median salary of over $51K yearly. Apprenticeships are the norm, but some go to trade school instead. Either way, an apprenticeship is necessary. 12% growth is expected through 2024.

Carpenter: Part of the construction trade, carpenters earn a median salary of over $43K. Job growth will remain about average at 6%, but due to increased new builds, along with remodels, carpenters will still find they are very necessary to our infrastructure.

Construction Laborers: Short-term job training is necessary for this entry-level construction position. The average salary is $32K, and the job outlook for construction laborers is 13%. 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 on the job training plus attending a truck driving school. They earn an average of $41K, and job growth is looking average at 5%. However, there is a truck driver shortage so, as long as you’re qualified and have a CDL, you will probably find a job.

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers: Apprenticeships, along with long-term on-the-job training are necessary to this trade. The median annual pay is over $68K, and average job growth is expected through 2024. With the right technical and mechanical skills, job prospects should be decent.

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 earn an average of almost $47K, and will experience average job growth through 2024. If you are a certified welder, and complete your apprenticeship, then job prospects should be fairly good.

Structural Iron and Steel Workers: This trade is going to experience a faster than average job growth through 2024, and metro areas will have the most job openings as they have the largest construction projects generally. $52K is the median salary; and a high school diploma and apprenticeship will get you into this trade.

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 that is experiencing average growth. This is typically learned with moderate on-the-job training, no formal education or apprenticeships are necessary. $42K is the average salary for this trade.

Roofer: Many roofers learn their skill on-the-job while others go through an apprenticeship. But, there are no specific educational requirements other than experience. Faster than average growth is expected for this trade, and they earn a median annual salary of $38K.

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 10%, which is faster than most other occupations, and this is due to the fact that money is being spent to repair the nation’s infrastructure. $45K is the median annual salary.

Millwright: The typical way to learn this trade is through a 4-year apprenticeship. The job outlook is projected to be 16% through 2024, so if you have all the right qualifications, job prospects should be plentiful. Expect a median annual salary of $49K.

Heating, 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 faster than average job outlook, you should have good job prospects if you have the right qualifications and the proper licensing. The average salary is $46K.

Painters, Construction and Maintenance: Most people learn this trade through on-the-job experience, and no formal education is required. The job outlook is expected to be about average but if you work in an area like the Gulf Coast, you shouldn’t have too hard a time finding work. Salaries average $37K annually.

Elevator Installers and Repairers: An apprenticeship is required for this trade, and 35 states require a license, as well. The job outlook is 13%, which is faster than most others. Between new installations, and repairs of aging elevators, job prospects should be plentiful. The average median salary is $78K.

Apprenticeships By The Numbers-Infographic

Skilled trades are in dire need of more qualified workers. There are about to be millions of job openings over the next few years due to baby boomers retiring, and there are not enough skilled tradespeople to step in and take over. This loss is potentially devastating to our infrastructure. So, if you’re considering a skilled trade career, or looking to make a career change, now is the perfect time. Our nation needs you!


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