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What is an Apprenticeship?

June 29, 2021

Apprenticeships act as a gateway into some professions and trades while also providing a wage for the apprentice's work. They're a great way to gain professional training and experience in a particular industry. Knowing what an apprenticeship is and what you can expect from one can inspire you to complete one in your chosen field. In this article, we answer "what is an apprenticeship?", look at how they work, explain the benefits of an apprenticeship and how to get one.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a program for training an individual in a trade or profession using on-the-job experience and occasional study. It allows students to gain real-world experience and have paid work throughout the program. Companies take on apprentices because they value the services that trainees can offer while providing them with experience to grow into a trained employee. Apprentices may be new hires entering an industry or current employees training in new skills.

Apprenticeships are provided over a wide variety of careers. They're traditionally viewed as an effective way to train staff in construction trades and creative fields. However, apprenticeships are also available in fast-growing technical fields, such as engineering, technology and banking. Apprenticeships and traineeships typically last three and a half to four years, and the apprentices receive a nationally recognised qualification upon completion.

How do apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeships work like a trade of services and experience between apprentice and company. Being an apprentice means that you're undergoing professional training at a company in the industry. With the expanding use of apprenticeship programs, the way they function is becoming more varied too. However, regardless of the industry, there are five main components that an apprenticeship program should have:

1. Business involvement

The companies that hire apprentices are generally responsible for constructing the program. This typically includes liaising with industry associations, study organisations or other partnerships to share resources and ideas for maintaining their programs. Businesses benefit from having a staff member (the apprentice) to help them with work tasks. While the apprentice isn't qualified, there are usually many work-related tasks that they're able to perform with some supervision. As companies provide the training and experience, they generally pay a low wage while the apprentice is learning.

2. On-the-job training

As mentioned in the "what is an apprenticeship?" section, apprentices undergo hands-on training under the guidance of an experienced supervisor or mentor. In addition, companies conduct training aligned with national industry standards, so apprentices are trained with approved and nationwide techniques.

3. Related study

Many apprenticeships are paired with complementary off-the-job academic training and study. This helps apprentices gain more industry knowledge and learn the theory that they're applying on the job. In addition, it can give apprentices a chance to reflect on the work they're doing and study the techniques they're using. Companies often use academic partners, such as TAFE, to provide the courses for their apprenticeship programs. Apprentices can receive related instruction on the job site, in a classroom or online.

4. Rewards for skill gains

Apprenticeships are paid programs. They make it possible for many people to enter a career while earning a wage and supporting themselves. Apprentices may also receive pay increases when they reach goals for learning new skills or finishing particular academic courses.

5. Nationally accredited qualification

Apprentices receive a nationally accredited qualification upon completion of an apprenticeship program. After completing their apprenticeships, they can enter the workforce as qualified and experienced professionals.

Benefits of becoming an apprentice

Apprenticeships and traineeships have been a popular career-training choice because they provide many benefits. Below we list numerous great reasons why you might consider an apprenticeship:

Hands-on training

An apprenticeship provides you with real-world industry experience from the beginning. Practical experience is often considered one of the best ways to learn something new. With this early involvement, apprentices can learn the skills needed for their job quickly and have the chance to ask questions to expert supervisors.


The academic component of an apprenticeship provides a well-rounded training experience. They offer a great alternative to traditional university and college courses that lack the same hands-on training. Apprentices receive the relevant education they need to succeed in their chosen career, and the apprenticeship qualification recognises this.


Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to gain the knowledge and experience needed to enter an industry. It's common for people to complete a degree at a university to begin their career path. However, University courses can be expensive, and students cannot start working in the field until they complete their studies. Apprenticeships offer an alternative solution that allows people to earn a wage while they qualify.

Good earning potential

Apprentices are typically paid competitive wages, especially for fields that are in high demand. By the time apprentices finish their training, they are qualified and experienced. Apprentices can usually start earning a decent salary early in their careers as they have the experience to become a valued part of a company.

Strong career start

An apprenticeship program enables you to start your career with the company that operates the program. These are generally companies that care to invest in training their staff and can afford to organise programs. As an apprentice, you'll typically have several excellent options of companies to choose from.

Industry connections

Industry connections are valuable to anyone at any time in their career. Learning from experienced mentors over three to four years in an apprenticeship means you can network with professionals in your field. They can help you with work knowledge, make career decisions or even recommend you for positions throughout your career.

How to get an apprenticeship

If you want to enrol in an apprenticeship program, you should know how to find one that aligns with your career goals. Follow these steps to enrol in your ideal apprenticeship:

1. Determine what industry you wish to pursue

A significant part of starting an apprenticeship is ensuring you know which career you wish to pursue. If you are trying to decide between multiple careers, you can use Indeed's job search to explore the job opportunities in that field. This can help you understand your future career prospects and make an informed decision. If you're struggling to identify a career you wish to pursue, you can research careers online. Search for jobs that match your particular interests and personal skills as you could be well suited to those jobs.

2. Apply to an apprenticeship network

Once you've determined what type of apprenticeship you wish to pursue, the next step is to contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider. They take care of most of the process of finding, enrolling and progressing in an apprenticeship. Once you contact an apprenticeship network, they may:

  • Help you find an employer and registered training organisation to complete your training in your desired career.
  • Provide a training contract for you and your employer to sign to formalise the apprenticeship.
  • Assess your eligibility for a support loan and other payments should you want one.
  • Provide advice and support to you during your apprenticeship.

Careers that start with an apprenticeship

While apprenticeships are available in over 500 careers, some industries rely more heavily on apprenticeship training for new talent than others. Below are four jobs that commonly begin with an apprenticeship:

National average salary: $86,071 per year

Primary duties: Carpenters use natural materials, usually wood, to install fixtures and fittings. Carpenters install doors, floors and furniture in buildings. They work on renovations, new builds or refitting existing structures. Carpenters can also build furniture, create film and theatre sets, or work on any other wood construction.

2. Chef

National average salary: $59,785 per year

Primary duties: Chefs use their culinary expertise to create dishes for restaurants and catering services. They often oversee the entire kitchen, including the other cooks and wait staff. In addition, they're usually in charge of curating menus and creating new dishes. An apprenticeship is a great way to become a chef because chefs gain most of their knowledge through practical experience.

National average salary: $86,054 per year

Primary duties: Electricians specialise in electrical wiring of buildings, transmission lines, communication and related electrical equipment. They may work on installing new electrical components, such as residential light fittings. They can also work in a commercial setting and maintain or repair existing electrical infrastructure.

National average salary: $68,372 per year

Primary duties: Tailors create and alter various clothing garments, including suits, dresses, blouses and pants. They're trained in sewing with machines and by hand to ensure clothing fits correctly. Tailors generally work in a tailor shop and alter clothing that customers bring in. It's also possible for them to work privately in their home with minimal expenses.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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