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Summer 2013
Vol. 57, Number 2
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Apprenticeship: Earn while you learn


"I like that I can have a full-time job and pay my mortgage while going to school," says chef's apprentice Brian Schmitt of Davenport, Iowa. "And I like that my job is directly applicable to the work that I want to do."

Many people work and learn at the same time. But in addition to getting a paycheck, apprentices like Schmitt are also getting a career boost: their on-the-job experience and technical instruction are part of a formal program to help them master an occupation.

Formal apprenticeship programs connect jobseekers who want to learn new skills with employers who want to train workers in jobs that use those skills. Most programs last about 4 years, although some take as little as 1 year and others as long as 6 years. At the end of a registered apprenticeship program, apprentices get a nationally recognized certificate of completion as proof of their skills.

But it's not always easy to find apprenticeship programs. It helps to know where to look—and what to look for.

This article is an overview of registered apprenticeships. The first section explains what apprenticeship programs are, some of the occupations they prepare you for, and what advantages they offer. The second section describes how to find, choose, and apply for an apprenticeship. The third section helps you plan for success. The fourth section has sources for more information. Testimonials from apprentices appear throughout the article.


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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Last Updated: November 6, 2013