Glossary of apprenticeship terms

Definitions of common terms used in the apprenticeship field.

Table of Contents

apprenticeship workers


Apprentice: A person who is employed to learn an occupation or profession and is registered with a sponsor in an approved apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeable occupation: A skilled trade or craft profession that requires special abilities and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor 's Office of Apprenticeship, and the  Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD)'s Division of Apprentice Standards.

Apprenticeship committee: An entity approved to provide apprenticeship and training services for employers and employees.

Apprenticeship program: A plan for administering an apprenticeship agreement.

The plan must contain all terms and conditions for the qualification, recruitment, selection, employment and training of apprentices, including the requirement for a written apprenticeship agreement

Certificate of completion: An award, certificate or diploma showing the successful completion of the apprenticeship.

Certification: Written approval by DAS of:

  • A set of apprenticeship standards established by a program sponsor that follow the standards established by DAS
  • An individual as eligible for probationary employment as an apprentice under a registered apprenticeship program

DAS: Division of Apprentice Standards, the organization responsible for promoting, developing, and servicing registered apprenticeship programs in the Commonwealth.

Employer: any person or organization employing an apprentice, whether or not such person or organization is a registered sponsor and party to an apprentice agreement with the apprentice. The employer is responsible for facilitating the on-the-job training component of the apprenticeship. Includes both union and open shop employers.

Expansion industries: Industries that are newer to the apprenticeship model and the focus of the Apprenticeship Expansion Plan, including manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and more. Expansion industry sponsors do not bid on public construction projects and are not subject to prevailing wage regulations.


Joint program: A program that is sponsored by a group of employers and a labor organization with a collective bargaining agreement. It is directed by employer and employee representatives from an apprenticeship and training committee composed equally from management and labor.

Non-joint open shop program: indicates a program where there is no labor organization or collective bargaining agreement. It is sponsored by an employer or an employer association and administered by an apprenticeship committee composed equally from employer and employee representatives.

Journey-level mentor or journeyperson: a worker who has attained a level of skill, abilities and competencies recognized within an industry as having mastered the skills, abilities, and competencies required for the occupation. Practical experience must be equal to or greater than the term of apprenticeship. Often a supervisor/manager, lead staff for a unit, etc.

  • Practical experience must be equal to or greater than the term of apprenticeship
  • Journeypersons in licensed trades will not be counted toward the ratio unless properly licensed pursuant to the relevant Massachusetts statutes
  • An unlicensed journeyperson does not count as an apprentice toward the job site ratio unless registered with DAS.

On-the-job training: hands-on training from an experienced journey-level mentor at the job site. On the job training focuses on the skills and knowledge an apprentice must learn during the program to be fully proficient on the job.


Plant: A program for a single location or a group of locations owned by the sponsor.

Prevailing wage: A wage rate set by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) that applies to workers on public construction projects and other public works contracts.


  • Initial: The initial period following the apprentice's acceptance into the program
    • this period is limited in time
    • the apprentice's appeal rights are impaired
  • Disciplinary: A time assessed when the apprentice's progress is not satisfactory. During this time the program sponsor may:
    • withhold periodic wage advancements
    • suspend or cancel the apprenticeship agreement
    • take further disciplinary action
    • a disciplinary probation may only be assessed after the initial probation is completed
    • during the disciplinary probation, the apprentice has the right to file an appeal of the committee's action with the DAS

RATC: Registered Apprentice Tax Credit. Employers of apprentices may be eligible for tax credits of up to $4,800 per apprentice via the RATC program.

RTI: Related Technical Instruction. A systematic form of instruction that teaches the apprentice technical or academic competencies that apply to the job, typically provided in a classroom or online.

  • Instructors must be competent in their trade or occupation
  • The instructional content must be reasonably consistent with the latest trade practices, improvements, and technical advances
  • A sponsor must review related technical instruction every year to make sure that it is relevant and current
  • A minimum of 150 hours is required per year

Sponsor: Any person, association, committee, or organization operating an apprenticeship program and in whose name the program is (or is to be) registered or approved. A program sponsor may be an employer or an intermediary organization.

Standards: A written agreement containing plans for operation and administration of the apprenticeship program and all terms and conditions for the qualifications, recruitment, selection, employment, and training of apprentices.

Supervision: The necessary education, assistance, and control provided by one or more journey-level employees who is on the same job site at least 75% of each working day

Suspension: Temporarily stopping an apprentice or sponsor from working

During a suspension an apprentice agreement is not valid

Term of apprenticeship: The method by which an apprentice is judged to have completed the program and obtained the required competencies.  The Term may be measured through:

  • Time-based model: The completion of on-the-job learning (at least ~2000 hours). Models must list number of hours required for each competency in the RTI/OJT section of the work process.
  • Competency-based model: The attainment of competency as demonstrated via evaluation methods e.g. completion of an exam. Models must show how competency will be evaluated under the RTI/OJT section of the work process.
  • Hybrid model: A blend of the time-based and competency-based approaches. Models must show how competency will be demonstrated through a combination of hours and evaluation.

Trade: Any apprenticeable occupation defined by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards and DAS.

Training agreement: A written agreement between DAS and a program sponsor that contains the provisions of the apprenticeship program.

Work process: Skills and competencies an apprentice must be proficient in to become a fully-qualified employee for the occupation.

When the apprentice reaches the level of skill specified by the work process, and has also completed the number of hours required, the apprentice will have reached the journey-level mentor skill level



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