Apprenticeship is the process of learning a skilled occupation through:
- Paid on-the-job training; apprentices train under the guidance of experienced journey workers
- Related classroom training
To become an apprentice, you must be:
- 18 years old
- 16 years old with parental approval
The length of training varies from one to six years, depending on the occupation.
There is a written contract between the apprentice and the employer that acknowledges their shared commitment to the training process. This agreement is approved and registered by the New York State Department of Labor.
Apprenticeship training is usually offered by the employer at no cost to the apprentice. There may be some rare instances where the apprentice is asked to pay for the total cost of the related instruction. In other cases, the employer may pay for the related instruction but specify that if you leave the program before completion, you must pay back those costs. As a rule, there are no costs to you.
As a registered apprentice:
- You are part of the employer's workforce
- You must meet the employer's minimum qualifications for employment. Each employer has different minimum qualifications. Most require:
- A high school diploma
- The equivalent of a high school diploma
Some employers require:
- Specific high school courses
- Prior experience
- Occupationally-related courses
Each apprenticeable occupation has a standard training outline. This assures that apprentices across the state have the same set of skills. The length of time it takes you to learn the skills of the occupation will depend upon the standard training outline and how fast you learn.
Each trade has a definite term of training listed in years. As a registered apprentice, you may progress according to that training term. Or, you may become skilled more quickly or more slowly than the training term. You may even start your apprenticeship with credit toward your goal. This is because your employer may choose to award you credit for prior work experience or coursework in the occupation.
You work under the guidance of experienced craft workers called journeyworkers. From them, you learn the skills of the trade. As you master each skill, you become a more productive employee.
At the same time you are working, you are also required to attend classroom related instruction. This is usually in the evenings. The place and time of instruction is set up by the employer and the local educational provider(s). It may be at one or more of these locations:
- A trade school
- Community college
Your progress is tracked by
- Your employer
- Your educational provider
At the successful completion of each registered apprenticeship, the Department of Labor awards the apprentice with a "Certificate of Completion." This is a nationally-recognized credential.
A new trend in apprenticeship is for the apprentice to earn an educational degree. This builds on the current required classroom instruction. Some sponsors do this by combining the standard on-the-job skill part of apprenticeship with expanded classroom instruction in a particular field. This classroom training is offered at the community college level. As a result, the registered apprentice will then earn both:
- A Certificate of Completion from the New York State Department of Labor
- An Associate Degree from a community college
If you are interested in becoming an apprentice you may contact your local apprenticeship office.
You may also:
- Search for apprenticeship openings in the Job Bank
- Large sponsors that hold a public recruitment will announce this in a press release
- Contact an organization in your area that trains through apprenticeship
- Find an employer in your occupational field who might be interested in training through apprenticeship
Only apprenticeship programs officially registered with the New York State Department of Labor are recognized nationally. Only these programs can offer a Certificate of Completion to the apprentice at the conclusion of the approved training.