Should I Do an Apprenticeship? 🛠️
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What is an apprenticeship? 👷
An apprenticeship is a type of career training where workers learn on the job. Rather than going to college, employers hire workers to train with them until the employee can begin working independently. Apprentices get paid at least minimum wage, so they have the opportunity to get paid while gaining valuable experience in their field.
For some jobs, an apprenticeship is usually required
. If you’re looking into any of these careers, you should definitely look into pursuing an apprenticeship. Here is a list of jobs that typically require apprenticeships according to the US Bureau of Labor
Elevator installers and repairers
Musical instrument repairers and tuners
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
Sheet metal workers
However, apprenticeships aren’t just limited to construction. You can pursue an apprenticeship in all types of fields, including health care, legal work, office management, and tech. Here is a (short) list
of other careers you can explore with apprenticeships:
Biomedical equipment technician
Licensed practical nurses
Human Resources assistant
Tech support specialist
Pros of apprenticeships ✅
Becoming an apprentice can be a smart financial decision. Apprentices bypass all of the debt that comes with getting a college degree, and they can start making money sooner than those who go to college while still having nights and weekends free to socialize. If you’re interested in pursuing a career that offers apprenticeships, a college degree may be expensive and unnecessary.
High-Demand Jobs 📞
Jobs that offer apprenticeships are in high demand right now… so much so that the federal government has invested significant funds
and resources into apprenticeship programs. The push to involve young people in “real-world” jobs comes from the current shortage of workers in these fields. So, getting an apprenticeship means that you will likely have an easier time accessing the job market compared to young adults with college degrees but little experience.
Networking Opportunities 🕸️
Along with work experience comes opportunities to meet people in your field and expand your network, making it even easier to access jobs. If you are already connected to people in your industry, you’re more likely to receive referrals to higher-paying jobs. That means that you’ll be much farther in your career than those coming straight out of college with less experience.
Cons of apprenticeships ❌
Not Suitable for All Careers 🕳️
Apprenticeships have recently expanded beyond “manual labor” like carpentry, electric work, plumbing, software engineering, and accounting. However, if you’re looking to pursue a professional career like medicine or law, it’s still important to get a college degree and complete graduate school, depending on your career path. Candidates with college degrees have the edge over those with apprenticeships in professional careers because of increased credibility and education.
Fewer Opportunities for Career Advancement 📉
At starting salary, apprentices usually make 40-50% less
than fully trained employees. Although there are some opportunities for career advancement for apprentices, many employers still find reasons to pay apprentices less. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma surrounding apprenticeships. And, with technology moving so quickly, the demand for apprenticeship-based careers may begin to dwindle. Because workers trained via apprenticeships are somewhat limited to a particular trade, they may struggle to find job opportunities during tough times.
How to apply for apprenticeships 📃
If you’ve determined that an apprenticeship is right for you, then you can start looking to apply to programs. Here’s how to apply:
1. Make sure you have the time ⏱️
Apprenticeships are a huge time commitment, much like having a full time job. If you’re still a student or you have other obligations, then an apprenticeship might not be right for you. Depending on the program you’re applying to, apprenticeships can last from 1-6 years.
2. Search for applications online 🔍
Just like searching for jobs, searching online is the best way to find apprenticeship opportunities. If you’re in the US, the Department of Labor offers an apprenticeship finder through apprenticeship.gov
to help young people apply to apprenticeships. You’ll be able to find most apprenticeship opportunities through this database, but if you’re struggling to find something that suits you, ask friends and family who work in the field that you’re interested in!
3. Make yourself a competitive applicant 💪
Even though apprenticeship careers are in high demand, apprenticeship programs can be highly competitive. Make sure that you can meet and even exceed the requirements for apprenticeship applications: take online courses/certification classes, get strong recommendation letters, and volunteer in the community. You want to show that you’re a passionate and committed applicant who is teachable and flexible. That sounds like a lot, but if employers know that you will go above and beyond as an apprentice, they will want you to work with them.
Apprenticeships can be a smart financial choice because they help you jumpstart your career and put you way ahead of your peers 💰 However, they might not be suitable for all fields. Don’t be afraid of the stigma surrounding apprenticeships; they can be just as fulfilling and rewarding as pursuing a college degree, and they certainly aren’t the “easier option.”