Over the last decade, the Department of Labor has recorded a 70% increase in the number of new participants entering apprenticeship programs. While job seekers continue to gain interest in earn-while-you-learn roles, companies are creating new programs every year to meet their hiring needs. Over 14,500 new apprenticeship programs have been introduced into the U.S. labor force within the last five years alone. Although apprenticeships have been historically used within construction and crafting trades, both the tech and healthcare industries have begun to create apprenticeship programs to increase retention rates and provide a point of entry for applicants without a college education.

This guide will cover apprenticeship basics and walk you through the need-to-know information on this popular alternative career approach. You’ll learn what kind of training and credentials you can expect from an apprenticeship and then give you an inside look at some of the most common programs available within growing industries.

What Are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships have been around for centuries, if not millennia, providing people with unique employment opportunities. Small business owners and labor unions:

  • Are the usual sponsors and creators of apprentice programs
  • Provide a regular paycheck
  • Specialize in training
  • Award certificates of completion

If registered with the Department of Labor, the program will award participants a nationally recognized credential, which they can use for career advancement nationwide. Apprenticeships vary in length, taking anywhere from 1-6 years to complete, and cover a wide range of industries and occupations. There are programs for people interested in becoming an electrician, dental assistant, esthetician, or software engineer–just to name a few.

Who Are Apprenticeships Meant For?

One of the great things about apprenticeship programs is the low barrier to entry. Anyone can participate in a program if they meet the minimum age and education requirements for their specific field or occupation. Apprenticeships are especially great for individuals who are completely new to an industry, as these programs go a step beyond a multi-year college education with more of a hands-on learning approach. Apprentices aren’t stuck in a classroom learning about hypothetical situations. They’re working alongside the masters and gleaning information while they observe and participate in day-to-day operations. Participants willing to learn and follow instructions will do well in an apprenticeship program.

What Should You Look For in an Apprenticeship?

Looking for an apprenticeship program is much like choosing a school or an employer. You wouldn’t want to attend a school or work for a company with a bad reputation, so it’s important to research the apprenticeship sponsor. Look for programs that provide clear information around these key factors:

  • Compensation: Determine how much money is offered to participants and if the salary will meet your needs.
  • Timeline: Apprenticeship programs vary in length, so consider how long you’re willing to devote yourself to training.
  • Style: Consider your personal learning style and determine if you’re comfortable with how training is delivered.
  • Goals: If your goal is to obtain a full-time position right after earning your credentials, be sure to choose a program that guarantees a job after successful completion.

Benefits of Apprenticeships

It’s easy to see how apprenticeships can benefit employers and labor unions. These companies are able to create a consistent flow of skilled tradespeople who can perform their duties to the highest standard, but there are plenty of benefits for participants too. Let’s go over just a few of the most important benefits of apprenticeships.

Pay

Apprentices get paid while they learn and work toward earning their credentials. Although the pay is about half of what a certified professional would make, getting paid to learn is a common reason why individuals choose apprenticeships over college. Many young people prefer this career model instead of paying a university tens of thousands of dollars for knowledge that may or may not land them a job after graduation. Apprenticeships are an economical choice for people who aren’t able to afford post-secondary education or don’t wish to take on student loan debt.

Unions

Choosing a union apprenticeship won’t teach you different skills, but it allows for certain benefits over a non-union program. Members must pay working dues, but these funds go toward offering higher industry wages and better job security. For example, compared to non-union workers, union members earn wages that are 11% higher. Union jobs also tend to be more secure, requiring employers to give “just cause” for firing. Within the traditional workforce, most employers are able to fire workers “at will” at their discretion.

Experience and a foot in the door

Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to be fully immersed within an industry, simultaneously receiving an education and the all-important field experience. This gives participants a point of entry for their industry of choice and an advantage within the workplace. Employers know that individuals who have completed an apprenticeship tend to have a deeper understanding of the position with all the hands-on, role-specific training they received.

Industries and Careers Offering Apprenticeships

In 2021 there were roughly 27,000 active registered apprenticeship programs across the U.S. This high volume of opportunity makes for an impressive range of programs to choose from. As we mentioned before, participants and programs have seen a steady rise since 2012, showing relevancy and growing popularity. Let’s look at a few growing industries using apprenticeships to bring in the next generation of workers.

Information Technology

As technology continues to grow and integrate into daily life, the industry fueling it is projected to do the same. Information technology (IT) occupations are expected to grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, well above the average for other occupations. Pair this statistic with the alarming number of tech workers considering leaving the industry, and there have been legitimate concerns about the lack of qualified talent and worker retention. For this reason, tech companies are turning to apprenticeship programs to fill IT positions such as software developers, web designers, project managers, computer technicians, and network administrators. If you’d like to enter the growing tech industry, consider applying for an apprenticeship with a company like Accenture.

Construction

The construction industry is well known for its many apprenticeship programs run by unions, large companies, and small business owners. Many occupations fall under the umbrella of construction, and individuals usually attend a technical school or apprenticeship on their way into the field. Electricians, roofers, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, and carpet installers are all occupations you can obtain through apprenticeship. The construction industry is projected to grow at an average rate of 6% over the next ten years, making these occupations relevant apprenticeship choices. If you’re interested in a construction apprenticeship, the North American Building Trades Union offers a wide range of programs across the country through 15 different trades unions and over 2,000 locations.

Hospitality

One way to enter the hospitality industry is through an apprenticeship. Working in hospitality is often the first stepping stone for young people as they get jobs waiting tables, cleaning hotel rooms, or working on a cooking line. This entry-level work can lead to higher pay and further education through a hospitality apprenticeship program. Select positions such as cook and food service manager are projected to be some of the fastest growing jobs within the next decade, surpassing the national average job growth rate. For high school students interested in culinary arts, the National Restaurant Association provides an apprenticeship program called ProStart for students in all 50 states.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry faces a unique dilemma with currently projected career outlooks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an above-average growth over the next decade, with an anticipated addition of nearly 2.6 million new positions. When you compare this projection alongside recent reports from HR firm Mercer, it’s easy to see that there will continue to be a great demand for healthcare professionals now and in years to come. There are many apprenticeship programs available within the healthcare field, and Medical Assistant (MA) is one occupation expected to grow at an above-average rate. If you’re interested in becoming an MA, check out this apprenticeship program offered by Kaiser Permanente.

Transportation

A large part of the country’s infrastructure and day-to-day operations relies upon the reliable transportation of resources and people. Over the next decade, the transportation industry is projected to grow by 9%, creating over 1 million new jobs. Drivers, pilots, mechanics, and technicians must be trained to the highest safety standard. A working apprenticeship is a great way to do just that. Learning to operate, repair, or maintain a heavy-duty vehicle can only be done effectively in a hands-on training environment.

Writing a Resume for an Apprenticeship

Over the past decade, the demand for skilled tradespeople has greatly increased. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trade professions are expected to grow by 6% over the next decade. For many years, high school graduates opted to pursue college degrees over attending trade schools, and as a result, there has been an increased need for trade professionals. These positions can be highly lucrative over time, often generating six-figure salaries at the master level. To pursue this career path, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship for your particular trade. Because so many individuals have begun exploring career changes, you’ll encounter strong competition for apprentice opportunities on the open market.

Using our Apprentice Resume Building Guide will help you to:

  • Highlight your trade knowledge by showcasing key projects you’ve completed over the course of your trade school program
  • Feature your technical skills and industry knowledge of equipment, safety protocols, blueprint reading, and tools based on your unique trade
  • Optimize your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) by incorporating keywords, skills, and trade terminology that matches the job description
  • Create an eye-catching professional profile to grab the hiring manager’s attention

How to Write an Apprentice Resume

Because you lack hands-on industry experience, you’ll need to highlight the training you received while completing your trade school program to generate interview opportunities for apprenticeships. Because competition will be high for these openings, you’ll want to craft a well-written professional resume focusing on the industry knowledge you’ve obtained during your education. Below, you’ll find three examples of apprentice resume examples to help you craft your bullet points and propel your career forward within your trade:

Apprentice Resume Examples

  • Example #1
  • Example #2
  • Example #3

Aliya Jackson
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
123 Bridge Street, Boston, MA 12345

Profile

A recent graduate with entry-level experience specializing in electrical wiring, OSHA safety, and NEC electrical codes. Adept at identifying technical solutions for complex electrical issues. Extensive knowledge of safety protocols and electrical codes for residential projects.

Academic Projects

Electrician Training Projects, Boston Trade School, Boston, MA 
June 2020 – Present

  • Completed a two-year electrician training program, which included education from licensed electricians on electrical theory, voltage, power, and resistance
  • Developed an advanced knowledge of wiring, electrical controls, mathematics, calculations, and industry terminology
  • Conducted supervised projects to apply knowledge of requirements for electrical equipment installations, including safety protocols and wiring techniques
  • Completed coursework covering blueprint reading, building codes, OSHA safety, and NEC electrical codes to ensure safety while performing maintenance requests

Education

Electrician Program
BOSTON TRADE SCHOOL, Boston, MA June 2020 – June 2022

High School Diploma
BELMONT HIGH, Boston, MA September 2016 – June 2020

Key Skills

  • Electrical Wiring
  • NEC Electrical Codes
  • Blueprint Reading
  • OSHA Safety
  • Equipment Repair

Raymond Ortiz
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
23 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY, 12345

Profile

A recent trade school graduate with entry-level experience specializing in plumbing systems, piping, HVAC equipment, and root cause analysis. Adept at performing calculations to execute maintenance, installations, and repairs for piping systems.

Academic Projects

Plumber Training Projects, Brooklyn Trade School, New York, NY
June 2020 – June 2022

  • Completed course work to acquire industry knowledge of plumbing systems, including construction, installation, and maintenance procedures
  • Conducted service repairs under the supervision of a licensed plumber and received high marks for performing complex pipe replacements safely and efficiently
  • Received hands-on training in pipe cutting and fitting techniques for PVC and metal pipes
  • Developed knowledge of trade calculations, blueprint reading, plumbing codes, piping systems, and HVAC equipment installation

Education

Plumber Training Program
BROOKLYN TRADE SCHOOL, New York, NY June 2020 – June 2022

High School Diploma
BROOKLYN HIGH SCHOOL, New York, NY September 2016 – June 2020

Key Skills

  • Plumbing Systems
  • HVAC Equipment
  • Drainage Systems
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • OSHA Safety

Raheem Richardson
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
123 Carpenter Street, Philadelphia, PA, 12345

Profile

A recent graduate with entry-level experience specializing in carpentry, OSHA safety, drywall installation, blueprint reading, and framing. Adept at supporting the construction and repair of wooden structures for residential and commercial buildings.

Professional Experience

Carpenter’s Helper, Johnson and Taylor Carpentry, Philadelphia, PA
June 2021 – June 2022

  • Provided support to three carpenters to build and finish cabinets, tables, doors, windows, and countertops for home renovation projects
  • Coordinated with licensed carpenters to install tiles, drywall, and home appliances
  • Operated hand tools and power tools to perform cutting, trimming, and finish carpentry

Academic Projects

Carpentry Training Projects, Philadelphia Trade School, Philadelphia, PA
June 2020 – June 2022

  • Completed coursework in mathematics, blueprint reading, building codes, and construction management
  • Developed knowledge of building frame systems, floor plans, framing layouts, roof frames, and wooden building structures to create high-quality technical drawings

Education

Electrician Program
PHILADELPHIA TRADE SCHOOL, Philadelphia, PA June 2020 – June 2022

High School Diploma
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA HIGH SCHOOL, Philadelphia, PA September 2016 – June 2020

Key Skills

  • Carpentry
  • Drywall Installation
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Power Tools
  • Construction Management

Apprentice Cover Letter Examples

In addition to your resume, you should take the time to create a cover letter that is tailored to each individual job posting. The cover letter can help complement your resume and allow you to showcase other aspects of who you are as a professional. Because your work experience will be limited at this stage of your career, you’ll want to focus on highlighting the skill sets you’ve garnered during your trade program and your ability to collaborate effectively in team-based environments. Below, you’ll find three cover letter examples to help you accelerate your job search:

  • Example #1
  • Example #2
  • Example #3

Aliya Jackson
Recent Graduate | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | 123 Bridge Street, Boston, MA 12345

January 1, 2022

Mr. Caleb Morris
Senior Hiring Manager
Boston Electrical
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Mr. Morris,

Having recently graduated from the electrician training program at Boston Trade School, I’ve developed an advanced knowledge of electrical theory, NEC electrical codes, and equipment repairs. I am confident that my ability to solve complex electrical issues safely and efficiently would be an asset to your organization in the electrician apprentice position.

Boston Electric’s reputation for helping customers integrate clean energy solutions and reduce energy consumption draws me to apply for this position. As a student at Boston Trade School, I performed residential electrical equipment installations under licensed electricians’ supervision. I believe that I can provide valuable contributions to your team based on my educational experience:

  • Completed a two-year electrician training program, which included education from licensed electricians on electrical theory, voltage, power, and resistance
  • Developed an advanced knowledge of wiring, electrical controls, mathematics, calculations, and industry terminology
  • Conducted supervised projects to apply knowledge of requirements for electrical equipment installations, including safety protocols and wiring techniques

I hope to speak with you further regarding how my knowledge of electrical theory can benefit your organization. Feel free to contact me via phone or email at your earliest convenience. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Aliya Jackson

Raymond Ortiz
Recent Graduate | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | 23 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY, 12345

January 1, 2022

Mr. Tyrone Jackson
Senior Hiring Manager
Arthur and Jackson Plumbing Co.
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Mr. Jackson,

As a recent graduate of the plumbing training program at Brooklyn Trade School, I’ve developed an advanced knowledge of plumbing systems, HVAC equipment, and OSHA safety. I believe my ability to read complex blueprints and repair complex piping systems would be an asset to your team in the plumber apprentice position.

Arthur and Jackon’s reputation for excellence is what draws me to apply for this opportunity. As a student at Brooklyn Trade School, I conducted service repairs under the supervision of a licensed plumber and received high marks for performing complex pipe replacements. I’m confident that I can be an asset to your organization based on my education experience:

  • Completed course work to acquire industry knowledge of plumbing systems, including construction, installation, and maintenance procedures
  • Conducted service repairs under the supervision of a licensed plumber and received high marks for performing complex pipe replacements safely and efficiently
  • Received hands-on training in pipe cutting and fitting techniques for PVC and metal pipes

I would like to schedule an interview to further discuss how my plumbing qualifications can benefit your team in the plumber apprentice role. You may contact me via phone or email at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Raymond Ortiz

Raheem Richardson
Recent Graduate | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | 123 Carpenter Street, Philadelphia PA, 12345

January 1, 2022

Ms. Lori Taylor
Senior Hiring Manager
Advance Carpentry Pros
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Ms. Taylor,

As a recent graduate from the carpentry training program at Philadelphia Trade School, I’ve completed coursework in finishing carpentry, framing systems, building codes, and blueprint reading. I’ve also had the opportunity to apply my carpentry knowledge hands-on as a carpenter helper for Johnson and Taylor Carpentry. I am confident that my educational background and experience can be an asset to your organization in the carpenter apprentice position.

Advance Carpentry Pros’ reputation for its elegant designs and high-quality service is what drew me to apply for this opportunity. I am passionate about developing creative designs and bringing that vision to life through carpentry. I am confident that I can provide valuable contributions to your team based on my career experience:

  • Provided support to three carpenters to build and finish cabinets, tables, doors, windows, and countertops for home renovation projects
  • Completed training in mathematics, blueprint reading, building codes, and OSHA safety
  • Developed knowledge of building frame systems, floor plans, framing layouts, roof frames, and wooden building structures to create high-quality technical drawings

I hope to speak with you further regarding how my carpentry experience can be an asset to your team in the apprentice position. You may contact me via phone or email at your earliest convenience. I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Raheem Richardson

Federal Agency Apprenticeship Programs

To recruit new hires and up-skill current employees, federal government agencies also use apprenticeship programs for a variety of occupations. Participants are given the opportunity to increase their earnings and receive industry-recognized credentials, specifically within their federal career path. Currently, there are over 40 apprenticeships offered through the Smithsonian Institution and nine different federal departments.

Apprenticeship Programs by State

There are thousands of apprenticeship programs located in each state across the country. If you’re wondering whether or not your state offers any specific apprenticeships, take a look at the list we created below.

South Carolina

Apprenticeship Programs for Women

Historically women have been a minority in the apprenticeship labor force. As of 2021, they only make up around 14% of the total number of active participants. However, specific programs, such as various incentives and grants in partnership with the The U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau have been created to encourage more women onto the apprenticeship career path.

Apprenticeship Programs for Minorities

The Department of Labor recognizes the need for apprenticeship programs to be equitable. The DOL points out that although the vast majority of apprentices identify as white (77.5%), programs have been recorded as becoming more diverse over the years. However, there are certain programs actively working to diversify apprenticeships by offering hiring priority to members of minority groups.

Apprenticeship Programs for Veterans

Veterans looking for work as they transition from military to civilian life may find it challenging to re-enter the workforce. That’s why apprenticeships are a great option to get hands-on experience in a brand-new field. Additionally, if a program is approved by the VA, eligible veterans can continue receiving their GI Bill monthly housing allowance and money toward books and supplies while earning an income as an apprentice.

Apprenticeship Programs for Youth

With the minimum age for apprenticeships starting at 16 years old, it’s important to remember that high school students are also eligible for apprenticeships. Teens and young adults can take advantage of these youth-specific programs to launch their careers and start earning money while they receive specialized training.

Tribal Apprenticeship Programs

Special grants and technical career programs exist specifically for Native people within Tribal communities. These programs provide the opportunity for local Tribal members and indigenous folks to receive advice, financial support, and career training through apprenticeship programs. In turn, the Tribal community is able to grow its workforce and meet the needs of the local economy.

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Apprenticeship FAQs

We’ve covered a lot of material on what apprenticeships are and how to find the best one for you, but you probably still have a few questions about the process. Let’s answer some common questions about apprenticeships and ensure you have as much information as possible to get started.

How long do apprenticeships run for?-

The answer to this question will vary depending on the specific apprenticeship, industry, and credentials. Apprenticeships are often referred to as “the original four-year degree,” and some programs can run for four years or longer. Typically, an apprenticeship lasts anywhere from 12 months to six years.

How much classroom instruction do apprentices receive?+

Again, this will ultimately depend on the apprenticeship. The federal government recommends all registered apprenticeship programs provide at least 144 hours of classroom time, and the timeline usually goes up from there. In some cases, if enough time and credits are earned, apprentices will also receive a collegiate degree at the end of their program.

How do I enroll in an apprenticeship program?+

Enrolling in an apprenticeship is a lot like applying for a job. Most programs require candidates to apply for the position, undergo an interview process, and receive acceptance into the program. Before you enroll, it’s important to make sure you meet all requirements. If a minimum education level or age is required, collect all the necessary documentation and proof of these qualifications before you begin enrollment.

What happens if I don’t complete my apprenticeship?+

Sometimes things don’t work out, and you have to step away from an apprenticeship early. It’s also possible that you realize the occupation just isn’t for you. You are free to leave whenever you want. It’s important to note, however, that you won’t earn the credentials you were working toward, and you would have to re-enroll to finish the program.

How do I know if I qualify for an apprenticeship?+

As we’ve mentioned above, most anyone can qualify for an apprenticeship. The best way to know is to check with the information provided by your apprenticeship of choice. Qualifications should be listed on the website or in the apprenticeship description. If you can’t find any information, you can always call the program directly to speak with someone about their qualifications.