Apprenticeship FAQs

Student questions

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is an employee who learns a trade or craft through a structured, supervised, on-the-job training program combined with classroom instruction. Apprenticeship requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of full-time work experience and 144 hours of classroom instruction per year.

Apprentices start their training with basic information such as safety, construction math, blueprint reading and proper use and care of tools. As they progress through their apprenticeships, they are trained in advanced areas of their craft to ensure they become well-rounded, independent workers who can handle all aspects of their job.

What's the difference between apprenticeship and other types of training?

Apprenticeship includes on-the-job training and classroom instruction, which typically take place simultaneously. As a result, the apprentice learns the theory behind a job, but also gets to apply that in the hands-on performance of the job.

Due to the progressive nature of the training, apprentices also learn all aspects of their craft, making them more valuable employees. A key advantage of apprenticeship training is that the employee not only learns how a job is done, but also how his or her employer wants the job done.

How is apprenticeship training structured?

Apprenticeship training programs can be from two to five years long. Most are four to five years. During this time, the apprentice works for an employer or trade organization in a craft, applying the information he or she is learning in classroom training.

Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, an individual is considered a Journey worker. Certification as a Journey worker shows that the worker is fully trained and is skilled in all facets of a craft. For individuals who complete a registered apprenticeship program, they receive certification from NC Works Apprenticeship and the U.S. Department of Labor. This certification is recognized anywhere in the United States as proof of training.

What is a registered apprenticeship program?

The U.S. Department of Labor administers apprenticeship training, and the administration is sometimes delegated to a state. In North Carolina, apprenticeship is administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, NC Works Apprenticeship.

Employers who wish to establish apprenticeship programs work with NC Works Apprenticeship to determine the type of apprenticeship, the duration of the program and the training and experience employees must complete as part of their apprenticeship. The apprentice's wages at each stage are also agreed upon as part of the registered program, thus ensuring the apprentice is aware of his rate of pay throughout the apprenticeship process.

What apprenticeship training programs are available through Wake Tech?

Registered apprenticeships are high-quality, earn-and-learn training programs that meet the national standards with the U.S. Department of Labor. Anyone interested in becoming an apprentice must first be employed by an apprenticeship sponsor.

Wake Tech and the WakeWorks program currently offer the following apprenticeship programs:

Non-degree programs

Degree and diploma programs

* – Pre-apprenticeship programs, which are solely instruction and may or may not lead to an apprenticeship. These programs are designed to prepare individuals for entry into an apprenticeship program or other job opportunity.

How much are apprentices paid?

The average starting salary for an apprentice in North Carolina is $13.04 per hour. The average salary upon completion of an apprenticeship is $20.48 per hour.

What qualifications are needed to become an apprentice?

The applicant should have the physical strength and abilities to perform the duties of the particular trade for which they wish to apprentice. Apprentices should also have basic math skills through algebra and the ability to read and understand written instructional manuals.

Anyone who is unsure if he or she meets these minimum academic qualifications should take the Career Readiness Certification (CRC) exam. It consists of three sections: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information and Locating Information. The exam costs $30, or $10 per section. Applicants who score a minimum of Bronze Level on all three portions should have the qualifications to perform well as an apprentice.

What can I do if I don't meet the minimum qualifications?

Anyone who does not meet the minimum academic qualifications to become an apprentice should contact Wendy E. Davis, counselor for Wake Tech's College and Career Readiness program, at 919-334-1506 or [email protected]. She can help students locate training to improve their basic skills, so they can meet the minimum requirements for apprenticeship training.

Can I use veterans education benefits for apprenticeship training?

Yes, qualifying veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to pay for apprenticeship training while they are employed and drawing a salary.

Employer questions

What can a registered apprenticeship program do for my business?

Many businesses are struggling to find qualified workers. Apprenticeship provides a customized training program that meets the specific needs of your business.

In developing the program, you work with NCWorks Apprenticeship to determine the skills you want your workers to have and then design the training to meet those needs. The classroom training is then reinforced through on-the-job learning, where the apprentices are taught by an experienced mentor from your company. The end result is highly skilled workers who are trained not only in their craft, but also in how your company does things.

In addition, apprenticeship offers a safer work environment through increased attention to safety training and improved employee retention. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show that 91% of individuals who complete an apprenticeship program are still with their employer nine months later.

How much does setting up an apprentice program cost?

There are no direct costs or fees for setting up an apprenticeship program. Monitoring the program will require a company to maintain records on each apprentice's work experience. But the costs of the monitoring should be more than offset by the apprentice's improved performance.

How do I set up a registered apprenticeship program?

Companies that wish to start a registered apprenticeship program should contact the North Carolina Department of Commerce, NCWorks Apprenticeship 919-814-0303 or [email protected].

Who provides the classroom training for apprentices?

While employers can set up their own training programs, they typically find the process too cumbersome. Those who wish to start an apprenticeship program but want others to do the training should contact John Wojcik at 919-335-1225 or [email protected] to discuss training alternatives and assist with the design of a program that ensures the company is receiving training that fits its needs.