How Long Is Apprenticeship Training Typically?

Apprenticeship training blends classroom instruction with work experience and is customary for a number of jobs in the construction, repair and services industries. Read on to find out how long a program may take to complete.

Apprenticeship Training Defined

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a job might require an apprentice if it involves skills that can be learned while working and includes some form of manual or technical skill. There are a wide variety of available apprenticeship programs all over the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has registered apprenticeship training programs for over 1,000 job sectors (www.doleta.gov).

Under the guidance of experienced instructors, apprentices learn through a blend of practical on-the-job training and theory-based instruction that teaches specialized occupational skills. Your employer might fund an apprentice program, or you might find a program offered by a particular labor group. As an apprentice, you are qualified to earn minimum wage while on the job, but many apprentices can make even more, reported the BLS.

Program Length

The length of time it takes to complete an apprenticeship program depends on the sponsor and the particular job. According to the BLS, apprenticeship programs typically take 1-6 years to complete. All programs require you to complete a minimum of 2,000 work hours, but others may require up to 12,000 hours. The DOL recommends that an apprenticeship include at least 144 class hours.

Trades and Occupations

Apprenticeships are commonly found through construction and production occupations, such as carpentry and metal working. You can also find apprenticeships in other job sectors, such as the arts, computer science, administrative support, repair, manufacturing, healthcare and information technology. To get an idea of how long certain programs take to complete, the DOL's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training has a list of occupations that require apprenticeships and their typical program lengths. Examples of such occupations include:

  • Residential carpenter: 2 years
  • Cement mason: 2 years
  • Plumber: 4 years
  • Bartender: 1 year
  • Landscape technician: 2 years
  • Industrial engine technician: 4 years
  • Medical secretary: 1 year
  • Electrician: 4 years

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