Apprenticeship 101: Earn While You Learn

by John Ladd on January 28, 2014 · 10 comments

How would you like to receive a paycheck while being trained in a high-skill occupation that has a starting salary around $50,000? If that sounds appealing, you might want to consider participating in a Registered Apprenticeship program.

What is an apprenticeship?

Most Americans are familiar with the concept of an apprenticeship: the apprentice, or trainee, works for a period of time under the guidance of a mentor or expert in a field, gradually accumulating knowledge, skills and hands-on competency. Another way to think of it would be the opportunity to “earn while you learn” in a structured environment.

The Registered Apprenticeship system − overseen by my office − works with state agencies to set standards for apprenticeship programs, ensure high-quality training and develop new programs.

Editor’s note: Want to know what a modern apprenticeship program looks like? This New York Times article has a good story about a program in South Carolina.

How is an apprenticeship different from other job training and education programs?

To start, apprentices receive a paycheck from day one that is guaranteed to increase as their training, knowledge, skills and abilities progress – no small benefit in an age of ballooning college costs and student loan debt. Apprenticeships (which can last from one to six years) also connect education and work simultaneously: apprentices gain industry-recognized credentials, and in many cases, college credits that can lead to an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Those credentials in turn often lead to a long-term, well-paying career. Over a career, someone who has gone through a Registered Apprenticeship program earns an estimated $300,000 more in salary and benefits than someone who did not. You can search for apprenticeship opportunities and program sponsors here. (Hint: look for the  symbol.)

What is an employer’s role?

An individual business or an employer association usually sponsors a Registered Apprenticeship, sometimes in partnership with a labor organization. These “industry sponsors” of apprenticeships may include larger employers, labor-management organizations or the military. Industry sponsors make significant investments – an estimated $1 billion per year – to design and execute Registered Apprenticeship programs, provide jobs to apprentices, oversee training development, and provide hands-on learning and technical instruction for apprentices.

The benefits of sponsoring apprenticeships are that employers get a highly skilled workforce with higher productivity, high morale and lower turnover.

What’s ahead for apprenticeships?

Modern apprenticeships are on the cutting edge of innovation in preparing a skilled workforce for today’s industries. We’re continually expanding the Registered Apprenticeship system to meet 21st-century needs in expanding industries like health care, information technology and advanced manufacturing, as well as in industries like construction where apprenticeships have a long history.

To meet these needs, the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship recently developed strategies in a “21st Century Vision for Apprenticeship.” We encourage you to learn more about both the history and the very important future of apprenticeships on our website: www.doleta.gov/oa.

John Ladd is the administrator of the Office of Apprenticeship within the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frank Lugo January 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I am very interested with this great opportunity. Can you please send me some information.

Thank you.

2 Ben January 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm

That doleta link in the last paragraph doesn’t work.

3 Virgil Bierschwale January 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Amen on the link not working.

I’ve got six years navy Radioman experience
six years electronics
20 plus years software experience

Can’t buy an interview in the stem arena.

Sign me up

4 RMSmithJr.SPHR January 29, 2014 at 7:12 am

Where is there a listing of these “more than 1,000 occupations”?

5 Denisse January 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

I would appreciate you sending me more information on this topic.
Thank you,

6 Gregg stoerrle January 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Mr Ladd could you please assist me with getting an apprenticeship? I hope you understand it’s hard to find work after becoming a whistleblower. I was fired 6 weeks after contacting osha only to find out osha 11c is a useless identity in dol. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
Gregg stoerrle
Proud navy dad

7 Forest A. Eubank January 30, 2014 at 3:30 am

I received your email pertaining to Apprenticeship 101 but there is no information associated with who to contact, contact information, phone numbers or websites. The website http://www.doleta/oa referring individual to the apprenticeship programs provides the statement “Work in Progress information not found.”

8 George O'Hara January 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm

This sounds really good and I would like to know more. One concern that I have is whether this is open for all or just for folks under a certain age.

9 Toby Tobias January 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

For anyone interested in this program, you can find more information here: http://www.doleta.gov/OA/apprentices_new.cfm

At the bottom of the page under the “Contact Us”section, it states that you will need to contact your national or regional office for more information. The links for those offices are listed in links right below that.

Sounds like a great opportunity!

10 Jack Martin February 3, 2014 at 11:11 am

What the article fails to mention is that most registered apprenticeships require both an interview and passing a battery of apprenticeship tests.

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