Learning a new, highly skilled profession requires an in-depth, hands-on, committed training experience. This is where the process of apprenticeship occurs. It fills-in the training gap in those places where supervision is needed and provides hands-on help and a solid understanding of how a specific process works. Apprenticeship is one of the most successful methods any person can use to develop new skills, especially in a highly technical craft.
For example, you don't become an electrician by pulling a few wires off your remote control car and hooking them up to the light switch in your house. Instead, you apprentice under an electrical expert to learn the most valuable, safest method for working with electricity.
So what is apprenticeship? It generally includes full-time, on-the-job experience where you actually learn to do "a job" while performing the required tasks. In this "hands-on" environment, you are placed under the oversight of a skilled trainer or journey-worker. A big benefit of on-the-job apprenticeship is having an income while you learn. At the same time you can also receive detailed training by taking specific, technical classes that are directly related to your new occupation. This training is often in-addition to your normal job duties, so be prepared for a large time investment.
By focusing heavily on hands-on work experience and detailed classroom study, long term success is the usual result for anyone truly dedicated to their occupation. Apprenticeship programs create some of the most highly-skilled, highly-paid individuals who work at their jobs anywhere in the world.
In fact, this method of training may be the oldest form of learning anywhere. Certainly it was used even by early Americans, including George Washington (surveyor), Benjamin Franklin (printer), and Paul Revere (silversmith). Actually, Congress enacted the National Apprenticeship Act in 1937. They did this to recognize the importance of apprenticeship in developing highly skilled workers in various trades, including manufacturing, public utilities, and construction. Later apprenticeship grew to include fire, police, safety, and other emergency related occupations.
Today, there are hundreds of different occupational apprenticeship programs and categories in and around the United States. Each state oversees and administers the specifics of their own program, but they are federally approved. Once you complete an apprenticeship training program, you will get an apprenticeship certificate which is recognized nationwide. It is also the credential you will find the most useful and portable within most industries around the country.
But apprenticeship isn't for the faint of heart. Even before your job and classroom training, you will have to apply, and you may have to wait until positions and opportunities are available. In fact, some programs may have waiting lists or they may only accept new applicants at specific times throughout the year.
Although apprenticeship is a fantastic occupational learning opportunity, it is not an option to be pursued lightly. Weigh your options and make an educated decision about the time and other commitments, before you jump into an apprenticeship program.