A registered apprenticeship is an employer-sponsored flexible training program that cultivates highly skilled workers who meet the workforce demands of a global economy. It is a form of work-based, post-secondary training that produces the skills and competencies necessary to perform work to an industry-established standard.

  • The Division of Apprentice Standards regularly convenes industry stakeholders to review and maintain the written standards that govern the scope and structure of an apprenticeship.
  • A contract binds state, apprentice and sponsor (employer) to specific training and performance.
  • Work-based learning occurs under the direction of a qualified journeyperson and combines structured on-the-job learning (80 to 85 percent) with theoretical instruction (15 to 20 percent).
  • Theoretical (classroom) training is typically provided by an approved in-house training program or by a proprietary school.
  • As a paid employee, an apprentice earns a progressively increasing wage during apprenticeship.
  • An apprentice who successfully completes the training achieves journeyperson status in their occupation and receives a nationally recognized credential. Apprenticeships are registered with The Division of Apprentice Standards, the regulatory and oversight agency, which deploys 3 Apprenticeship Training Representatives in the state.

Comprehensive Workforce Solution

Apprentices work and train from day one, which helps sponsoring employers address two problems at once: the shortage of skilled workers and the need for a highly skilled workforce.

  • An apprentice is in the workforce from day one -- training is coupled with work and productivity.
  • Apprenticeships allow employers to tailor their employee training to fit their specific needs: in their facility, on their equipment, in their environment, meeting their standards and goals.
  • An apprenticeship provides employers an internal career ladder and is a mechanism to promote current unskilled workers.

Top Ten Reasons Why Employers Choose Apprenticeship

10. Attract better applicants

9.   Instill company values & procedures

8.   Retain skilled employees

7.   Gain a more knowledgeable workforce

6.   Benefit from skilled workers

5.   Replenish skilled workforce

4.   Increase safety

3.   Increase productivity

2.   Become more competitive

1.   Earn a return on investment

Apprenticeship Numbers

  • An average apprenticeship lasts four years, during which an average apprentice earns $161,000.
  • Annually, Massachusetts has over 5,000 active apprentices, a majority of the apprentices are registered in construction trades.
  • Currently, more than 2,000 employers train apprentices in Massachusetts.

Apprenticeship Occupations

      Apprenticeship is a viable workforce development tool in a wide variety of occupations.

  • Annually, Massachusetts registers apprenticeships in many different occupations, ranging from the traditional construction trades (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.) to service (dispensing opticians, utility line workers, etc.) to industrial (maintenance mechanic, tool and die, etc.). Apprenticeship is an effective solution in any occupation that involves progressive attainment of manual, mechanical or technical skills, and knowledge which meets industry standard for that occupation, and:
    • Requires at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning to attain approval.
    • Is customarily learned in a practical way through a structured, systematic program of on-the-job supervised learning.
    • Requires related theoretical (academic) instruction to supplement the on-the-job learning.
    • Is clearly identified and recognized as an occupation throughout an industry.
  • Apprenticeship training is in constant evolution – industry stakeholders from all over Massachusetts work together to keep apprentice training current and future-focused.


The apprenticeship method of training — with a skilled worker passing on craft knowledge to another — is almost as old as recorded history. Since the middle ages, skills have been passed on through a master-apprentice system in which the apprentice was contracted to the master for a specified period of years. The apprentice usually received food, shelter and clothing in return for the work the apprentice performed. Despite its binding status, there was little oversight or regulation of the indenture (contract).

Apprenticeship in the U.S. functioned as an unregulated system until 1937, when the Fitzgerald Act was passed which was the country’s first apprenticeship law. With safeguards for both the apprentice and employer, the federal government developed a system of registered apprenticeship.. Also in 1941, the Massachusetts legislature established the state’s apprentice training department. From 1941 to present day, thousands of apprentices have gone through the system and have contributed positively to the state’s economy.