What Is an Apprenticeship, and How Does it Work?

You might be familiar with apprenticeships but not realize how many industries depend on them to thrive. Did you know that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular in the United States? You can create apprenticeship programs at your small business, too!

In fact, apprenticeships help more and more businesses employ skilled workers who meet their needs. So, what is an apprenticeship? Find the answers you need about small business apprenticeship programs below.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship program trains a worker to become skilled in a particular trade. Apprenticeships combine hands-on work with classroom learning to train the apprentice.

Apprenticeships are considered full-time employment. As the apprentice is learning, they are also applying the lessons through working.

To have an apprenticeship program, you must be a business, provide hands-on training, teach lessons, offer compensation, and administer a nationally accredited certificate.

How long do apprenticeships usually last?

The time it takes for an apprentice to complete training and receive their certification varies. Factors like industry and the specific program impact how long apprenticeships last.

Most of the time, apprenticeships take four years, but they can range anywhere from one to six years.

How much do apprentices earn?

On average, apprentices start at $15 per hour. The longer the individual is in the apprenticeship program, the higher their wage usually grows. And, an apprentice’s wages depend on what kind of trade they are in.

For example, an electrical apprentice could make $24,125 per year while a hair stylist apprentice could earn $13,000 per year because they collect tips.

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What’s in it for the apprentice?

Learning under a skilled teacher helps an apprentice understand and master their trade. And, they can learn while they get paid.

When apprentices finish their training program, they receive a certificate crediting them as someone highly skilled in their particular trade.

Colleges also offer college credit for apprenticeship programs. In this way, an apprentice could graduate college and receive a certificate saying they are specialized in their trade. The apprentice can pay down their college debt with the money earned from their program.

How can an apprenticeship program benefit my business?

Apprentices aren’t the only ones who benefit from apprenticeships. You also profit from implementing apprenticeship programs in your small business.

You can save money by hiring an apprentice. Starting out, apprentices do not earn as much money as employees already trained in a particular trade.

You have direct input in building your apprentice’s skills, meaning they know how to get the job done at your business. And, you could hire them after their apprenticeship ends, furthering their value to your small business.

You will need to give ongoing assessments of your apprentices to make sure they master the trade and do exactly what your business needs.

How do I start an apprenticeship program?

How to start an apprenticeship program depends on each business. Employers interested in setting up an apprenticeship program can refer to the Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Toolkit.

Setting up an apprenticeship program takes some planning. One way to get started is to partner with local places like community colleges and organizations to recruit apprentices. They can help you get your program idea going.

Registering your apprenticeship program is also an important step in the process. You can receive benefits like state-based tax credits and federal resources. And, this lets your apprentices receive nationally accredited certification upon completion.

Apprenticeship program structure

You will want to consider how to structure your apprenticeship program. To determine how long you want your program to be, there are three basic designs to go off of.

  • Time-based programs mean your apprentices must complete the program in a certain number of hours.
  • Competency-based programs let apprentices work at their own pace but must demonstrate a certain level of skill.
  • Hybrid approach is a combination of both. Your apprentice must meet hour and skill requirements.

You also need to consider how to model the classroom learning and hands-on portions of an apprenticeship. For apprenticeship programs, there are four basic models to refer to.

  • Direct entry is a pre-apprenticeship program which prepares individuals for an apprenticeship program. After a period of time in the pre-apprenticeship program, they start as apprentices.
  • The traditional model is where you simultaneously teach and let apprentices put lessons into action as soon as they start.
  • Front-loaded model means the program begins with classroom learning, then introduces simultaneous learning and working, and finally gets rid of classroom learning to focus on hands-on work.
  • A segmented model has apprentices alternate between learning and training.

Starting an apprenticeship program means adding a new employee to payroll. Keep it simple with Patriot’s online payroll software. Just enter the hours your employees work and their hourly or salary wage. Get your free trial today!

This article was updated from its original publication date of November 14, 2016.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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