Apprenticeships have been around since the Middle Ages, training individuals in a specific skill set and setting them up to have successful careers in the trades. They are as common today as they were hundreds of years ago – but today's apprenticeships are a bit more formal.
Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training and experience with classroom instruction to help you learn all there is to know about your future career.
Unlike many internships, apprenticeships are paid positions, so you are treated like an employee. Most apprenticeships last two to four years, depending on the program, and the majority require at least a high school diploma.
If you're interested in hands-on training that will lead you to a career in the trades, an apprenticeship may be just the ticket for you. We'll tell you about a handful of apprenticeships that are out there, but we suggest you dig for more in the specific field you are interested in – there are thousands available in the United States alone.
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The Illinois Department of Employment Security offers several great apprenticeships if you don't mind rolling up your sleeves. You have the opportunity to become a bricklayer, a cement mason, a heat and frost insulator, a plumber and more!
Most of these apprenticeships take three to five years to complete and are a total of 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training.
Down south, Louisiana offers a different approach to finding an apprenticeship on its website. Simply choose the area of the state in which you wish to work and select any of the 62 programs that interests you.
The website then shows you if there are any available apprenticeships in that area at that time. If you don't find what you are looking for in your destination right away, continue to check back; the apprenticeship listings are updated every few weeks.
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The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development offers apprenticeships specific to service trade, meaning personal service workers and public safety trades. Apprenticeships in the service sector often involve applying directly to the company, which means eligibility requirements for each employer may be slightly different. Service trade apprenticeships include positions like child care development specialist, cosmetologist, firefighter, chef and electric line worker.
If you'd like a little more variety when choosing an apprenticeship, you may want to look into the California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association. CalApprenticeships.org offers more than 30 programs such as automotive, culinary and pastry, electrician, ironworking and painting.
Each apprenticeship program provides contact information, so applying is personable and simple. Additionally, the website describes the qualifications, benefits and duration of each program to give you a better idea of the apprenticeship.
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If you didn't see an apprenticeship that fits what you are looking for, don't panic! Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website to find an apprenticeship that could be your perfect match. The website offers links to other sites with apprenticeship opportunities based on state, which makes it simple to find an apprenticeship close to home.
Searching for the right apprenticeship can be overwhelming, but don't give up. When searching, use the Internet in every way possible; most apprenticeship-related websites have a Q-and-A page and are fairly easy to navigate.
Do not be afraid to exercise your connections and reach out to people. Talk to family and friends to see if they know of anyone who has had an apprenticeship; people love to share their experiences and give advice. Apprenticeships are one of the best ways to get your foot in the door and receive valuable real-world experience.
Meghann Rand interned at Scholarship America in 2013. She attends the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she is majoring in advertising and public relations.