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Apprenticeship Programs - Career Spotlight

Looking for an alternative to formal college programs? For many, apprenticeship is considered "free" education while also earning a paycheck. An apprenticeship also provides the opportunity for a guaranteed job once the training program is complete. In fact, apprenticeships are available in over 850 occupations including construction, manufacturing, telecommunications, environmental protection and even baking.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is defined as career preparation combining on-the-job training with regular classroom instruction. Depending on the program, an apprenticeship can last from 1 to 6 years or more. While attending classes, apprentices receive paid on the job training just like a regular employee. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, apprentices will receive a nationally recognized certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor or approved state agency. A certified apprenticeship means the program follows all rules and regulations set by the department including fairness and safety.

<>What is involved in the on-the-job training program?

Apprenticeship training programs are more formal and structured than regular training programs. It also requires the apprentice learn every major function of the industry profession. The program may begin by teaching functions which are repetitive in nature, followed by more complex training. As part of the classroom training, apprentices may learn about the equipment used followed later by techniques in drafting or cost estimating.

Time Commitment
Considering that certification in an apprenticeship program is accepted by employers nationwide, the time commitment can be extensive. All programs, however, require a minimum of 2000 hours of work experience. For example, a Denture Finisher apprenticeship may last only 1 year, while an aircraft mechanic apprenticeship may last as long as 4 years. The time in most programs, however, can be shortened with previous education and/or work experience.

What are the other requirements of an apprenticeship program?

While all recognized programs require a minimum age of 16, most requirements are set by the employer. Programs also require a high school diploma or equivalent. Course work is also important. Applicants must be proficient in English, Science and Math for many apprenticeships.

The interview process

Just like regular jobs, apprenticeships are highly competitive and have a standard interview process. Also, just like regular positions, applicants are rated on skills, education and experience. Aside from job knowledge and skills, applicants may be screened for personality traits. Interviewers are looking for passion for the profession and commitment. Aside from time commitment, the ability to get back and forth to work is considered as well.

How to find a recognized apprenticeship program

Finding an opening in a recognized apprenticeship is not easy. There are, however, many available resources including State Apprenticeship Councils, unions, trade associations, professional organizations related to the desired apprenticeship and the military.

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