How Long Is Apprenticeship Training Typically?

Apprenticeship training blends classroom instruction with work experience and is customary for a number of jobs in the construction, repair and services industries. Read on to find out how long a program may take to complete.

Overview of Apprenticeship Training

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a job might require an apprentice if it involves skills that can be learned while working and includes some form of manual or technical skill. There are a wide variety of available apprenticeship programs all over the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has registered apprenticeship training programs for over 1,000 job sectors (www.doleta.gov).

Under the guidance of experienced instructors, apprentices learn through a blend of practical on-the-job training and theory-based instruction that teaches specialized occupational skills. Your employer might fund an apprentice program, or you might find a program offered by a particular labor group. As an apprentice, you are qualified to earn minimum wage while on the job, but many apprentices can make even more (reported by the BLS).

Important Information About Apprenticeship Training

Prerequisites Most apprenticeships take on students that are 18 and have high school diploma, but some take on students as young as 16 with minimal education
Concentrations Focus can range depending on trade of apprenticeship
Possible Careers Careers vary depending on field and apprenticeship program completed
Continuing Education Apprenticeships can be offered or can lead towards degree programs/certificates at vocational schools or colleges

Program Length

The length of time it takes to complete an apprenticeship program depends on the sponsor and the particular job. According to the BLS, apprenticeship programs typically take 1-6 years to complete. The majority of programs require you to complete a minimum of 2,000 work hours, but others may require up to 12,000 hours. The DOL recommends that an apprenticeship include at least 144 class hours, which is frequently paid for by the sponsor.

Trades and Occupations

Apprenticeships are commonly found through construction and production occupations, such as carpentry and metal working. You can also find apprenticeships in other job sectors such as the arts, computer science, administrative support, repair, manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology. To get an idea of how long certain programs take to complete, the DOL's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training has a list of occupations that require apprenticeships and their typical program lengths. Examples of such occupations include:

  • Carpenter: 4 years
  • Electrician: 4 years
  • Plumber: 3-4 years
  • Machinist: 3-4 years
  • Welders: 3 years
  • Baker: 3 years
  • Landscape technician: 2 years
  • Medical support: 1 year

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