Once you’ve graduated from high school, you might be wondering what’s next? What if college wasn’t the right choice for me? Well, there is another route you can take. An apprenticeship program might be the right choice for you.
How does an apprenticeship work?
An apprenticeship is an industry-focused career path to help you prepare and develop the skills needed for your future workplace. The main objective of an apprenticeship is to ensure that you are qualified and employable for your chosen industry, by providing you with the appropriate knowledge and skills.
“Apprenticeships offer a combination of (linked) classroom training with daily on-the-job instruction and provide a free pathway to in-demand careers,” said DeAnn Wandler-Vukovich, head of the HCL apprenticeship program. “The design of the training offers learning of all the practical and theoretical skills required, as well as experience for the chosen profession.”
Although each program is different depending on the desired field, a typical apprenticeship program lasts about four years. However, depending on the profession, it can take anywhere between 12 months to 6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
An apprenticeship program, through HCL, is here to create a pathway for aspiring technology professionals by providing hands-on training and mentorship to deepen their knowledge and prepare them for full-time employment in their domain.
“For an apprenticeship through an employer, such as HCL, candidates spend 12 months learning relevant, in-demand technical skills while working full-time,” Wandler-Vukovich said. “The value is in technical mentorship and practical application, focused on real-world experience, coupled with social learning and performance feedback.”
An apprenticeship is for anyone ready to kick-start their career or ready to change careers by learning from industry professionals through hands-on training and experiences.
Are you paid during an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a great way to build a career while learning, working and earning. An apprenticeship has a “learn and earn” model, and according to Indeed.com, the average starting salary for an apprentice in the United States is $16.31 per hour.
An apprenticeship is just the beginning of your career in the trades. As apprenticeship programs expand rapidly in the United States, opportunities for growth and increased income also increase. According to Forbes, the number of apprentices in 2020, exceeding 636,000, is up 64% compared to 2010.
“Apprenticeships have been widely accepted in commercial careers such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical and others, but are quickly becoming an accessible route into industries such as healthcare, finance and information technology” , Wandler-Vukovich said.
In fiscal year 2018, the BLS reports that the U.S. Department of Labor counted approximately 585,000 active apprenticeships in more than 23,000 registered apprenticeship programs across the country.
“Most apprenticeships are available in the trades; however, there are now several ‘new collar’ apprenticeship options in technology, healthcare, financial services, insurance and even law,” said Wandler-Vukovich.
Here are some examples of professions for which an apprenticeship is beneficial:
- Carpenter: While working as a carpenter, you repair and install building structures made of wood and other materials. Carpenters typically enter the field through an apprenticeship that begins with learning a simple task like chopping wood and then progresses to reading blueprints and building structures. The median salary for carpenters is $49,520, with projected employment growth of 2% through 2030.
- computer Support Specialist: A computer support specialist works with organizations and computer users to provide help and advice. There are several ways to enter this field, and although a bachelor’s degree is one route, an apprenticeship has become a more standardized route in this technological field. The median salary for an IT support specialist is $55,510, with employment growth of 9% through 2030.
- Dental Assistant: A dental assistant works in a dental office to provide patient care, maintain records and schedule appointments. To become a dental assistant, some states require you to pass an exam, while others enter the field through an apprenticeship and on-the-job training. The median salary for dental assistants is $41,180, with employment growth of 11% through 2030.
- Electrician: An electrician’s job is to install, maintain and repair electrical power and control systems. Most electricians enter the field during their apprenticeship, where they learn the ins and outs of their field. The median salary for an electrician is $56,900, with employment growth of 9% through 2030.
- Plumber: A plumber works in factories, homes, and businesses to install and repair fixtures and piping systems. Plumbers learn through on-the-job training during an apprenticeship, and most states require a license. The median salary for a plumber is $56,330, with employment growth of 5% by 2030.
What qualifications do I need for an apprenticeship?
Although an apprenticeship is generally open to anyone, there are a few qualifications you will need to start an apprenticeship program.
“The requirements differ depending on the trade or craft being learned. Some have very explicit educational requirements; however, most require a high school diploma or its equivalent,” Wandler-Vukovich said.
For example, some of the qualifications you will need to register for an apprenticeship through HCL include:
- You must have a high school diploma or GED.
- You must have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- You must be a US citizen or have permanent resident status.
- You must be able to physically perform the required tasks.
Each apprenticeship program is different and will have additional requirements, so it is essential to do your research on your desired program before enrolling.
Are the learnings worth it?
The short answer is yes. An apprenticeship is a great way to learn from industry experts and secure a stable career once you complete your program.
“There are several remarkable learning benefits for job seekers,” Wandler-Vukovich said. “It is first and foremost a highly desirable form of training for workers, as it is about gaining job skills while earning income with salary progression.”
While learning and working alongside industry professionals in your chosen field is a great way to prepare for your future career, an apprenticeship program can also provide you with several other opportunities.
“As part of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Career Services, we continually think about innovative approaches to opening up new career paths for our learners and coordinating with university partnerships to offer apprenticeships with HCL” , said Denise Meadows, employer relations team leader at the SNHU.
Going to college right after school isn’t always the way to go for everyone, and rising tuition can also hold people back. Choosing to go the apprenticeship route doesn’t mean college can’t be part of your future. Many registered apprenticeship programs, just like HCL, allow college to still be an opportunity for their apprentices.
“Specific to HCL’s learning program, we are committed to developing our next generation of technology leadership. Thus, we have created opportunities for our apprentices to develop their knowledge through our partnership with SNHU,” said Wandler-Vukovich. “Once they have completed their 12-month program and are onboarded as full-time employees, participants have the option to enroll in their choice of an Associate or Licensed program in STEM – which will be fully funded by HCL.”
An apprenticeship like this is an opportunity for you not to choose between college or your career. Instead, you can have both when you’re ready.
“This is a career-focused program that supports students who are doing their best to learn while doing the job while reaffirming their interest in a high-demand STEM field,” Meadows said. “That learner can then bring the knowledge they have gained to the field-work to further their academic studies in a STEM discipline here at SNHU.”
There is no end to the potential an apprenticeship can offer you. It’s a great way to get straight into the career you want to pursue through real-world, hands-on experience while keeping the door open for more education and continuing to excel in your chosen career.
Alexa Gustavsen ’21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.