Apprenticeships are an excellent way to pursue training after high school for specific types of jobs and careers.
The most important thing to know about doing an apprenticeship after high school is that you’ll need to know right away what you want to do for a job, since as an apprentice you learn skills and work in a specific job right away. Use your time in high school to learn about what your options are for apprenticeships.
Good options for learning about apprenticeships are your high school’s college and career center as well as an online platform for exploring careers if your high school has one. If possible try to meet with someone who is working in the job you’re interested in, which can help you better understand if that job is a good fit for you. Some good questions to ask include
- How did you get your job?
- What do you like about your job?
- What do you not like about it?
- What kind of education or training did you need to get your job?
- What are the three most important characteristics for someone to be successful in your job?
- What are the three most important skills to develop to be successful in your job?
- What advice do you have for someone who is considering a career like yours?
What is an Apprenticeship?
An Apprenticeship is a formal period of working in a job while learning the skills to do it from an experienced person in that career. You earn money right away, but you earn a lot less money than you will after you complete your apprenticeship.
It’s different from a four year or two year college, which focus the first couple years on general requirements and then on a specific field of study. It is also different from trade school because you start the process by being hired into a job and learn the job while you’re doing it.
As an apprentice, you’ll be working and earning money right away in a specific job that you’re training for, so you’ll need to decide what that is before applying to a program.
Who is an Apprenticeship for?
An apprenticeship is for anyone who knows what job they want to do and needs specific training for it. Examples of this include electricians or elevator repairers and installers. This is also a good option for students who want to get started on learning the skills for a specific job right away and enjoy hands on learning.
How much time does it take to Complete an Apprenticeship?
The amount of time varies based on the licensing and union requirements for that specific job. Apprenticeships can last from two to six years, with the most common amount of time being four to five years.
What are the Requirements to become an Apprentice?
The requirements for apprenticeships vary significantly across different types different types of jobs. Sometimes the requirements are set by unions and sometimes by professional or licensing organizations. You are usually required to have graduated from high school or earned your GED.
As you’re investigating various apprenticeships, ask yourself questions like
- What draws me to this career?
- What are the costs of training? Are there hidden costs, such as travel, purchasing tools, purchasing uniforms, etc?
- What is the starting hourly wage for this job? How much will I make when I complete my apprenticeship?
- How does that wage work with my budget for where I’ll be living?
- How long can people stay in this career?
- How can this career progress throughout my life?
- Am I willing to move for your job?
- What physical requirements does this job have? (What happens if I get injured? Can I do the job with any medications I take? Is there drug testing? Is a physical exam required? Do I need to be able to do lift a certain amount of weight? Can I have a tattoo?)
- What are the other requirements (having a car, math tests, other skill tests)?
- What if I change my mind? What are my options?
Learn more about some of the apprenticeships available in Washington State here and here.
By Jennie Flaming