Are Apprenticeships Worth It?

There is a point in your life, after grinding at a job for a couple of years, or maybe you’ve just left high school, where we come to the conclusion that we need to look at different options.

For those bored employees or fresh high school graduates, there are obvious options, like a new job or going to university.

But as you are searching around and clicking on various websites that offer courses or new opportunities, you will invariably come across the word ‘apprenticeship’.

Apprenticeships are offered enticingly to any prospective person, normally in a field that is generally quite hard to get into otherwise. However, that brings an interesting question to mind. If apprenticeships are readily available, what is stopping a person taking one?

Especially if it is in a field that they would enjoy and benefit from. Does that mean that apprenticeships are really worth it? Should I take one?

In this article, we will take a closer look at apprenticeships and whether they are really worth it.

What Is An Apprenticeship?

First, we will start with explaining what an apprenticeship is and why they are different from standard employment.

An apprenticeship is actually a form of training for new generations in a certain field that requires the apprentice to shadow a professional and do on the job training for this role.

This makes it kind of midway between a job and school courses, since they are still technically learning, just in a professional environment.

Generally, a prospective apprenticeship will join a firm who will agree to teach them their trade or profession and in exchange for this training, they remain with the firm for a pre-agreed upon period after this training is complete.

During the apprenticeship, apprentices may be paid, but normally it is a small amount and the real gain is the qualification an apprentice will receive and the experience they will get from working for a company.

Most apprenticeships are for roles where on the job training is a must or at least partially necessary.

These are professions like electrician, plumber, carpenter, really any profession where a lot of skill is required but where the knowledge and information needed to complete the job isn’t conveyed very well through wrote/memorization techniques.

In more modern times, apprenticeships have started appearing for jobs to do with IT and software, with many engineering roles starting with an apprenticeship.

Benefits Of An Apprenticeship

There are a lot of benefits to an apprenticeship and even if you never use the qualification you learned from your apprenticeship, they can be a lifeline when other jobs fail you.

Education Cost

One of the big benefits of an apprenticeship is education cost. For almost all other higher earning jobs, outside the ones that you do an apprenticeship for, need a form of qualification and normally that qualification is a degree.

The problem is degrees are ridiculously expensive in America and quite often bankrupt families in order to pay for them. Realistically, how many people have $100,000 to drop on a degree?

If you get a student loan instead of trying to pay for a degree by yourself or through your family, then you are in huge trouble as well. Student loan repayments are enormous, with the average per person repaying paying upwards of $400 a month.

If you were earning $1500 a month after graduation, because of your student loan you would actually be earning $1100 a month and that’s before bills and utilities, which just makes life harder for graduates.

For apprenticeships, this is not a worry as the company you work for is covering the cost. Since you are working for a company – even if it is a learning role – and they are grooming you for future employment, companies are happy to pay for the costs of training you.

Even after you finish your apprenticeship and your required work period for that company, you will come out completely educational debt free and qualified for a nice role.

Earn Higher Amounts Quicker

Even with a college degree, many new graduates find themselves stuck at the bottom rung of a company, earning a pittance.

This is because even if you have the qualifications, employers prefer hiring proven workers, as in they have experience working in this position and know what they are doing.

Unfortunately, this presents a problem: how do I get experience, if no one will hire me?

The furious looking for a job that justifies all the expenses and sleepless nights at college then begins and normally doesn’t really go anywhere, leaving the graduate trapped in a horrible catch 22 situation.

Yet, this is not a concern for the qualified apprentice, as not only are they qualified but also experienced. After being educated by the company and given a small amount of experience working through their apprenticeship, they are fully employed by said company in that role.

This employment lasts for at least 6 months and can be a couple of years in total, which gives the apprentice all the experience they need for future employers to take them on.

Downsides Of An Apprenticeship

Downsides Of An Apprenticeship

Unfortunately, as with everything in life, there are downsides to an apprenticeship that can sometimes be ignored or glossed over by society.

You’ll Get The Hard Jobs

The worst thing about being an apprentice is that most of your seniors at the company will put you through the ringer. As an apprentice, you will be getting all the jobs and most of them will be hard or monotonous ones.

Sometimes, it is a form of hazing by these seniors to wash out unprepared apprentices, and sometimes it’s just because they want to.

Don’t think it’ll be taken too far, though, as most of the people working with you are doing the age-old adage of making training hard, so work won’t be. However, you should expect to not only be able to work hard, but stand your ground as well.

You May Cut Yourself Off From Certain Industries

Being an apprentice means devoting yourself to one skill set, in much the same way doctors and lawyers do. Due to your qualifications, you won’t be able to waltz into a place and demand a job.

You will be restricted to one skill industry unless you go through getting another qualification again for the rest of your life.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a word of caution. Choose an apprenticeship carefully before moving forward with it.

No Chance For Extremely High Earning

The jobs an apprenticeship offers are more stable and within a smaller range of pay. Don’t get me wrong, those who do an apprenticeship are incredibly skilled workers and earn a nice tidy sum. Yet, they will never get to the extreme heights of pay others would.

This has its pros and cons. For instance, those who do an apprenticeship will almost never earn below $24,000 a year, but they will also almost never earn over $50,000 per year. Anywhere in that range is a great salary in my book, but it lacks the extremes of graduate jobs.

For those doing graduate jobs, their salary can go as low as possible, sometimes barely scraping $16,000 a year, which is abysmal, but they can also earn well over $100,000 a year, which is insane. Apprenticeship roles trade potential earning power for security and stability.

This is not necessarily a bad thing and I, for one, would love that kind of stability, but for those who are ambitious, it may not be the best thing for them.

So, Are Apprenticeships Worth It?

Personally, I feel absolutely they are. The world is changing, but the roles that apprenticeships offer are always going to be needed and in demand.

The benefits of an apprenticeship far out the downsides in my opinion, especially since not many people are doing them anymore.

Even though apprenticeships can be competitive, they are nowhere near as competitive as searching for a graduate job, and you almost always find work in these roles.

With the advent of the internet and online courses, there is also no reason to pursue other learning that you may have thought of as denied to you either, when you took the apprenticeship.

You can get the degrees and other skills you wanted, while still being fully employed and debt free.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of stigma around apprenticeships and the kind of jobs you get when you obtain one, but there shouldn’t be. The jobs that you get from an apprenticeship may be different from other jobs, but they are some of the most important and stable jobs there are.

If you do one, you will never feel as though you are out of work and people will praise you for the skills that you bring not only to work but to life as well. If you are unsure about what to do with your future, look into an apprenticeship.

They can set you up for life with little cost on your part.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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