Apprenticeship Guide

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Fact Sheet

Apprenticeship Fact Sheet

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a career preparation activity designed to prepare an individual—generally a high school graduate—for careers, traditionally in the skilled crafts and trades. Apprenticeships consist of paid, on-the-job training supplemented by related classroom instruction. Apprenticeship training usually requires one to five years to complete, depending on which occupation is chosen, and results in the apprentice earning a portable, industry recognized credential.

State and federal registered apprenticeship programs are work-based education partnerships between industry, labor, education and government. Apprenticeship is industry driven and provides an effective balance between on-the-job training and classroom/laboratory instruction needed to develop marketable knowledge and skills in one of the 25,000+ programs sponsored nationally. There is a broad span of occupations from low tech to high tech in fields including medical, trades, crafts and technology.

Apprenticeships can be in almost any occupation in which an employer wants to have thoroughly knowledgeable and skilled employees who desire to climb the career ladder via the earn and learn apprenticeship model. In fact, over the past several years many apprenticeship programs outside the traditional crafts and trades have emerged.

For a list of apprenticeable occupations in your area from the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, please click the following link:

Registered apprenticeships ensure quality learning by combining on-the-job training with theoretical and practical classroom instructions to prepare exceptional workers. Classroom and laboratory instruction is required in all registered apprenticeship programs. This factsheet focuses on the registered apprenticeship programs wherein the apprentice is trained, paid and receives benefits according to state and federal apprenticeship standards.

Apprenticeships Are Designed To Promote:

  • Competence in industry-based skill standards and the ability to obtain a meaningful job that provides a family with a sustainable wage and benefits package.
  • Portability across the United States, allowing a journeyman certificate to be fully recognized by employers.
  • Advancement on the career ladder into positions in supervision, management and company ownership.

Registered Apprenticeship Key Elements:

  • Employer involvement. The employer hires and trains the apprentice at the workplace, using a curriculum and standards customized to the employer’s work processes.
  • Structured on-the-job learning. The apprentice learns by doing, with support from their supervisor or other workplace mentor.
  • Related instruction. Courses, typically held in a classroom (often at a community college), or increasingly online, complement the applied work experience.
  • Rewards for skills gains. Apprentices earn wages from day one. The more they learn, the more they earn.
  • National occupational credential. Apprentices receive a nationally recognized credential or certificate once they complete the program

The terms “apprenticeship” and “apprentices” refer to those programs and individuals registered as approved by individual state standards or the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. Registered apprentices fall into two categories of time spent each year in on-the-job training, part-time and full-time as follows.

Part-Time Apprenticeship Training

The part-time apprenticeship training category is for apprentices who are primarily involved in studying a career pathway at a high school or community college and work as an apprentice up to half-time during the school year. They may work full-time as an apprentice during the summer.

Full-Time Apprenticeship Training

The full-time apprenticeship training category is for apprentices who are involved in full-time on-the-job training and are enrolled part-time in the employer-selected, apprenticeship-related and supplemental instruction classes, which is comprised of classroom and laboratory instruction.

The classroom/laboratory training lasts for the entire length of the apprenticeship program. The major portion of funding for the entire apprenticeship is provided by industry, while some states provide some funding for the classroom/laboratory instruction.


Pre-apprenticeship programs are designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in a Registered Apprenticeship or other high-quality apprenticeship program, and ultimately a career. They can be delivered by a range of entities including community-based organizations, high schools, labor organizations, workforce agencies, or community colleges.

For educational institutions, the programs can and should integrate directly into their existing curriculum and structure. High-quality pre-apprenticeship programs link directly to existing apprenticeship programs and provide the instruction, preparation, and supports to advance participants to apprenticeship programs or careers.

Key Legal, Safety & Health Issues

The apprentice receives health insurance and other benefits, including a pay scale that increases at each higher skill level or period, and is covered by all state and federal employment laws and regulations governing safety and health.

In most cases applicants for registered apprenticeship programs must be 18 years of age, have a copy of their high school diploma, transcript or GED, copy of birth certificate and be able to do the work. For help in setting up apprenticeships or information about specific requirements that differ from craft to craft, contact the CA Department of Industrial Relations.

Apprenticeship Success Factors
  • Build connections for learners to existing apprenticeship programs in your community.
  • Develop apprenticeship programs with local and/or state apprenticeship councils in partnership with labor and industry.
  • Develop apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries in your region, supported by local chapters of organized labor and local employers.
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