Benefits of apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is a unique way to begin a career where you get hands‐on training, technical classroom instruction, and a paycheck all at the same time.

As an apprentice, you’ll be trained by a qualified, experienced worker on the job while also getting classroom instruction.

Apprentices work for an employer or business-union partnership, known as a sponsor. Sponsors pay the wages and provide On the Job Training (OJT) and refer apprentices to classroom instruction. An apprenticeship is an “earn while you learn” opportunity.

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Why should I become an apprentice?

Apprenticeships for job seekers have many opportunities and benefits. If you’re exploring your career options, consider apprenticeships because they:

  • Provide hands-on experience and classroom training in new career paths
  • Pay you while you learn a new trade, skill, or industry
  • Are available in many fields and industries, including finance, early childhood education, healthcare, construction, trades, technology, and more
  • Open doors to career growth after your apprenticeship is complete
  • May offer course credits if you’re going to college, depending on your program
  • Help you build meaningful relationships with colleagues and employers

If you’re ready to start your new career, search open apprenticeships now.

Why should I start an apprenticeship program at my company?

Apprenticeship is quickly becoming a key opportunity for businesses and employers around the state to build a loyal, skilled workforce. As an employer, you can:

  • Recruit and develop highly skilled workers to grow your business
  • Improve productivity and profitability
  • Improve efficiency in your workforce
  • Fill gaps in your teams 
  • Minimize liability and training costs by training workers 
  • Open mentorship opportunities to your workforce 
  • Get tax credits (certain industries only)

Ready to get started building your apprenticeship program? Find out how and start your application today.

Frequently asked questions

How long do apprenticeships last? 

Depending on the industry or career you choose, apprenticeships can take between 12 months to six years to complete. Like many other kinds of training, apprenticeships require a specific number of work and training hours each year to advance to the next level. 

Some people call apprenticeships the "other four‐year degree" because some programs last as long as a college education but without the student loans!  At the end of the apprenticeship period, you get a nationally recognized certificate of completion as proof of your training and skills.

How much will I earn as an apprentice?   

People who complete apprenticeships earn an average wage of $70,000 per year, which is higher than the annual mean wages for many Massachusetts residents.

Apprentices usually start at a rate of 50% of a fully certified worker's wages. Like any other employee in the business, your hourly pay increases as you complete the necessary work hours each year, usually by 10 to 15% each year. For many, an apprenticeship is a convenient, money-making way to a lucrative career without the debt of student loans.

This hands-on earn-while-you-learn experience results in 94 percent employment retention when the apprenticeship ends.

Are all apprenticeships the same?   

No. Each apprenticeship program is designed to meet the needs of that specific trade and role. For this reason, apprenticeship programs all have different application processes, lengths, schedules, and policies.

Despite the differences, most apprenticeship programs follow a shared set of practices.  

What's the difference between apprenticeships and internships?

There isn't an official definition of an internship by the U.S. Department of Labor. However, apprenticeships and internships differ by length of time, program structure, pay, and college credits.

In Massachusetts, many trade apprenticeship programs also have agreements with local colleges, allowing apprentices in certain fields to earn college credit in addition to being a paid apprentice.

Can I do an apprenticeship if I don't have a high school diploma or HiSET?

It depends on the program. Some apprenticeships require a high school diploma or high school equivalency (e.g., HiSET), while others do not.

When applying for an apprenticeship, be sure to ask the employer about any educational or other requirements for the position. 

I'm disabled. Can I be an apprentice? 

Absolutely. Apprenticeships vary in industries and abilities. Some apprenticeships, such as the trades, are more physically demanding and may require specific physical skills. Other apprenticeships may have a wide variety of skills that fit anyone who's interested. 

If you need help with job opportunities and placement, reach out to the Mass Rehabilitation Commission. Their team can help you find and place you in jobs and apprenticeship programs.

Can I get college credits for an apprenticeship?

Yes. Some apprenticeship programs allow apprentices to earn college credits while in training, which can make it easier for them to obtain additional post-secondary credentials on top of their apprenticeship completion certificates.

This approach, known as the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), partners colleges with unions to share credits across apprenticeships. Participating schools include but may not be limited to:

  • Bunker Hill Community College
  • Cape Cod Community College
  • Greenfield Community College
  • Holyoke Community College
  • Middlesex Community College
  • Mount Wachusett Community College
  • North Shore Community College
  • Northern Essex Community College
  • Roxbury Community College
  • Springfield Technical Community College
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology

Ask your local community college if they offer credits for apprenticeships.

Unions participating include:

  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Elevator constructors
  • Pipefitters
  • Heat and frost insulators
  • Plumbers
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Sprinklerfitters

If you're an educator, parent, or school counselor, learn more about how to talk about apprenticeships with students (PDF, 727 KB) seeking a career path.

I'm a military veteran or National Guard member: Can I be an apprentice?

Yes. For veterans, National Guard and Reserves, apprenticeship opportunities can help you with the next step in your career path.

G.I. Bill payments for apprenticeship programs can vary in award amounts depending upon benefit eligibility. Everyone wins when apprentices collect their military benefits:

  • Employers possess a powerful recruiting and retention tool
  • Employees can offset their living expenses while working toward journeyman status
  • The local economy benefits from the influx of federal military dollars

There are over 800 occupations approved for education benefits. Learn more about becoming an apprentice as a military veteran, National Guard, or Reserves member.

If enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program, eligible veterans or their dependents may receive a monthly allowance for learning on the job and completing 150 hours of schooling per year.

Are there organizations for veterans that can help me get started?

Helmets to Hardhats opens a pipeline between military service and the best building and construction industry jobs. They work with top contractors and unions to give you free assistance and access to the best opportunities in the business. Members of the National Guard and Reserve, as well as active duty veterans, can use their services. Phone support: (866) 741-6210

My Next Move provides information about careers and job training resources for military members transitioning to civilian life. Explore new careers and industries, or find industries that align with your current military experience.

U.S. Department of Labor's Registered Apprenticeship website is an excellent resource for employers and individuals interested in learning more about the many benefits of establishing registered apprenticeship programs in a wide range of industries. Toll-free helpline: (877) 872-5627

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill website is a great place to obtain detailed information concerning a wide range of VA education benefits, including the newest programs established by law. Education Customer Service Office: (888) 442-4551

The Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services is the leading advocate for the more than a half-million veterans of the Commonwealth and their families and survivors. DVS establishes policy, proposes legislation, ensures adequate funding for veterans programs is included in the Governor's budget and represents the interests of veterans in matters coming before the General Court. DVS provides information on state and federal benefits, including details about where and how to apply.

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