Apprenticeships are an opportunity for workers to prepare for a career by working while getting on the job training and study. Apprenticeship is beneficial for both employers and employees. Apprenticeship programs provide employers with highly skilled workers who are prepared for the demands of their specific field. Apprenticeship programs offer employees the chance to earn a wage while attending classes and gaining the skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
Registered Apprenticeships are apprenticeship programs that meet the national apprenticeship standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or federally recognized State Apprenticeship Agencies. During the registered apprenticeship program, the apprentice will earn paychecks. Upon completion of the program, the apprentice receives a nationally recognized credential from the DOL and is elevated to journey-worker status. The new status leads to increased pay and advanced career opportunities. Every registered apprenticeship program has a sponsor who is responsible for the overall operation of the program. Registered apprenticeship programs include structured on the job training and related instruction either through a community college, technical school, apprenticeship training school, or by the sponsoring business.
The hiring process for apprenticeships varies based on the employer. The Department of Labor (DOL) has an interactive map that shows apprenticeship openings by city. The DOL also provides a database with all apprentice sponsors in your state and county. This can be helpful in seeing what types of apprenticeships are offered in your area. Once you find an apprenticeship program, you are interested in you can apply online through the sponsor’s website.
The National Apprenticeship Act (Fitzgerald Act) governs apprenticeship programs and gives the Department of Labor authority to formulate and promote standards of apprenticeship in connection with the Department of Education.
Yes, an apprenticeship is a job. The average beginning wage for an apprentice is approximately $15 per hour. Wages can increase over time based on knowledge and performance advancements.
Yes, most employees in the United States are employees “at-will” and work for without an employment contract. Employees “at-will” may be fired without any warning and without cause. Apprentices are not employees “at-will.” Apprentices’ employment status depends on their apprentice agreement. Most apprentice agreements are term agreements that stipulate that an apprentice can only be terminated for good cause with due notice.
Yes, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), sets out the federal minimum wage and requirements for calculating hours worked. These provisions include the time apprentices spend working on the job are hours worked, and may also include the time apprentices spend on classroom instruction outside of working hours. For time spent on training to be hours worked, the apprentice must be employed under a written apprenticeship agreement or program that meets the standards of the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor. The training must also involve productive work or performance of the apprentice’s regular duties. An agreement stating that training will be classified as hours worked must be in writing.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA), works with State apprenticeship agencies to administer national apprenticeship programs. The OA along with state agencies work to ensure programs meet federal and state standards. The Office of Apprenticeship seeks to protect the safety and welfare of apprentices. OA issues nationally recognized and portable Certificates of Completion of Apprenticeship, and promotes the development of new programs.
Each registered apprenticeship program will have its own qualifications tailored to the apprenticeship. The apprentice sponsor will identify the minimum qualifications needed to apply for that program. All applicants are required minimally to meet the qualifications set out by the apprenticeship sponsor to be considered for the program. Apprenticeship programs require that the starting age be no less than 16 years of age. Programs in hazardous occupations usually require the starting age to be 18.
The length of an apprenticeship program depends on the occupation and type of program the apprentice enters. Most programs run from one to six years. For each year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will normally receive 2,000 hours of on the job training and a recommended minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction.
Apprenticeship programs benefit both employers and apprentice employees. Companies can invest in talent by training apprentices in the latest advancements in a particular industry. Apprentices can benefit by starting a career and earning a wage while continuing an educational program. Apprentices become highly skilled within an industry and can increase earnings and advance their careers.
Over 150,000 businesses have registered apprenticeship programs with the DOL offering over 1,000 career areas. Here are a few examples of fields that provide apprentice careers:
- Electrical work
- Construction labor