Differences Between Apprenticeships And Internships

If you are just starting out in the job market, or are beginning on a new career path, both apprenticeships and internships are a great way of getting valuable training and experience in your industry, and can also be really useful for employers.

It gives a company the chance to fill skill and staffing shortages, and train new recruits specifically to their systems. 

Though the people in apprenticeships and internships might be similar ages, and will be learning new skills whilst on the job, that is basically where the similarities end. They differ greatly in the benefits that they provide to employer and employee.

This article will guide you through the key similarities, differences, advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of job training programs. Read on to learn more about 

Difference One – How Long They Last 

Typically, internships last only a few months, or up to a year at an absolute maximum, whereas apprenticeships last for a minimum of a year, and as long as four full years, depending on the qualification that is being worked towards, or the industry that the apprentice is working within. 

Therefore, an internship is generally regarded as a short stint in work, or is classified as work experience, where the intern will put their previous experience into practice, as well as developing new skills.

Alternatively, an apprentice is working towards a long term qualification, where a company teaches an appropriate and motivated individual new skills and knowledge, to ensure that they are of the most value to the company long term. 

Difference Two – Qualifications Versus Work Experience

Apprenticeships are usually working towards a long term, larger (and usually career defining) qualifications, whereas internships are work experience.

The apprentice will receive training from an apprenticeship provider (who typically has a vested interest in the apprentice, as they intend to take them on as a full time permanent employee once they have finished their apprenticeship).

This training is often in tandem with a college, school, or university, who will offer a recognized qualification at an appropriate level. This qualification is taught through work, training, shadowing, coursework, and mentoring. 

On the other hand, an intern will only receive training from their employer, and will not gain any kind of qualification from their employer.

Generally, internal are only ever putting existing skills into formal workplace practice, and gaining a better level of understanding and experience.

Because of this, it is not unheard of for an intern to be hired, and then asked to complete a project out of the usual skill set and knowledge of the company. 

Overall, apprentices are usually just starting out on their career journey, whereas interns are collecting valuable experience, and building their CV for future jobs. 

Difference Three – Apprentices Are Paid, Interns Might Not Be

Though there is movement to prevent young people/students from being exploited by internship schemes, a lot of internships are not paid.

The rights of an intern depend on their employment status – if they are classes as a worker, then they are entitled to minimum wage in their area, but  more often than not, internships are classes as ‘work placements’ or work experience, therefore they have no legal status on their own.

However, apprenticeships are very highly regulated, and apprentices have to be paid the minimum wage that is laid out by the Fair Labor Standards Act, for all of the hours that they spend working.

Professional apprentices (such as those enrolled in law apprenticeships) are typically paid more. 

Difference Four – Apprenticeships Are More Likely To End In A Full Time Role

Though it is not totally unheard of, it is pretty uncommon for an intern to be given a full tine role in the company that they are doing their internship in at the end of their scheme.

This is usually because the company needs the skill set in the short term, but not in the longtime, and there isn’t the budget in the company for a full time role.

Furthermore, even when they are offered them, interns typically do not accept full time roles, as they are only looking for short term experience, and are working towards a different end goal. 

That being said, that does not minimize the positive impact of the internship (on both the intern and the company at large), so long as a set of clear expectations are set out prior to the commencement of the placement. 

On the flip side, an apprenticeship is a much longer training scheme, and usually apprentices are hoping to be taken on by the company after their apprenticeship has concluded.

This makes the apprenticeship scheme system an ideal way for companies to address any skill shortages within their company, succession planning (which means identifying and developing future leaders, and senior managers), or bringing in new talent when they have plans to expand. 

When trained and handled properly, companies have a really high chance of retaining their apprentices, and might even lead to a long term career in a company that they feel a strong sense of loyalty to.

In the side of the apprentice, staying with the company that you trained in usually leads to quicker progression through the company, as recruiters, owners and managers often look for home grown talent. 

Final Thoughts 

There are a lot of similarities between apprenticeships and internships – they are often fulfilled by young people and students, they are typically for people who have yet to enter the workforce, or are only just starting out on their career path. 

However, there are a lot of differences too, which are important to know if you are considering both of them. Apprenticeships are longer, and by law they have to be paid, whereas internships are shorter in length, and whether you get paid a wage is at the company’s discretion.

With an apprenticeship, you will learn new skills, and ear a long-term qualification, whereas internships are supposed to give you more experience, and allow you to practice skills that you already have in your repertoire. 

Overall, both options can be great choices for your career, and your CV. set out your expectations, and ability to commit time, and then choose the best route for you.

It is worth remembering that every scheme and company will be different, so do your research into each apprenticeship and internship that you are applying for. 

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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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