Introduction to Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job and classroom training over several years. The right apprenticeship program can help students get a foot in the door in an industry they’re interested in while also increasing access to higher education. Additionally, apprenticeships help fill in-demand jobs to meet employers’ needs for a workforce with applied, technical, and problem-solving skills.

Apprenticeships have a long history in the U.S., but they have yet to be widely adopted outside trades such as construction and utilities. Below, we share information to explain why apprenticeships are quickly becoming an integral part of our education and training ecosystem and dispel common myths and misperceptions.

An apprenticeship is a program that allows individuals to learn a skilled trade or occupation through on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Apprenticeships are designed to provide a hands-on learning experience, allowing individuals to gain practical skills and knowledge that they can use to excel in their chosen profession. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, to apply for an apprenticeship, you must be at least 16 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalency (GED).

Apprenticeships typically last between one and six years, depending on the industry and occupation. During this time, apprentices work under the guidance of experienced professionals, learning the ins and outs of their trade while also receiving classroom instruction on relevant topics.

One of the great benefits of apprenticeships is that they often lead to well-paying jobs with opportunities for advancement. By gaining practical experience and knowledge in their field, apprentices can become highly skilled workers with valuable expertise that is in demand by employers.

Apprenticeships provide an attractive alternative pathway to higher education. They help students earn debt-free college degrees, and the applicability of classroom work to their job responsibilities can also increase student engagement in schools.

There are several misperceptions people have about apprenticeship. Some of the most common:

Apprenticeships are for people that are “not college material.” Completely false! While apprenticeships are a great option for people who want to learn a skilled trade, they are also a great option for people who have an interest in higher education. In fact, many apprenticeships offer college credit or even associate’s or bachelor’s degrees as part of the program.

Apprenticeships are for men. Nope! They may still be male-dominated, but apprenticeships are open and available to people of all genders. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports the number of female apprentices has increased by 218% from 2014 to 2019, and women now make up approximately 12.5% of active apprentices compared to 9.4% in 2014.

Apprenticeships are outdated and no longer relevant: Wrong! Apprenticeships have been around for centuries and are still a relevant and important part of our economy. In fact, many industries are facing a shortage of skilled workers, making apprenticeships more important than ever. Check out how apprenticeships are growing across the nation!

Apprenticeships don’t pay well. reports the average annual salary for an apprentice in Everett, WA, ranges from $43,963 – $76,058, a solid living wage in WA state. Many apprenticeships offer competitive wages and benefits, and once an individual completes the program and gains experience in their field, they can command higher salaries.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for individuals who want to learn a skilled trade or occupation through on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Programs are available in diverse industries, pay well, and offer opportunities for career advancement. Want to learn more? Browse some helpful resources below.

SBCTC: Apprenticeship

WA Department of Labor & Industries: Become an Apprentice

WA State Apprenticeships in Public Education

DOL: Advancing Opportunities for Women Through Apprenticeship (PDF download)