Apprenticeship differs from college in many ways. When most of us think of college we think of lecture halls, long hours of study, and killer tests that are supposed to prove your knowledge of a subject. At the end of it, you earn a degree that says you have successfully performed these tasks and have “learned” the subject matter.
Armed with your degree, you head into the market to find employment. Depending on your field of study, the economy, and the current need for people with your education, you may or may not find employment in your selected field of study. In any case you are likely faced with crippling student debt that must be repaid regardless of your success at finding employment.
Often we hear that recent college graduates find they are not fully equipped with the tools needed to be a productive, valued, employee. These skills have to be developed as you labor along, often in entry level jobs, trying to be noticed for advancement.
Apprenticeship traditionally applies to learning a craft or trade that requires the manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude to use the necessary tools and principles to be successful. These skills are mostly learned under the direction of accomplished craftsmen who are there to train you and help you learn your chosen craft.
Since you will be providing labor as you are learning, you will be paid for your work. You are typically sent to an employer to be trained so there is no need for you to search for employment.
There is also a classroom component to apprenticeship. In college you pay a fee per credit hour and buy books. In apprenticeship you still buy books, but there is no fee for classes.
By the time you complete your apprenticeship, you have over 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and experience. You will have completed roughly 900 hours of classroom time. Since you are already working in the field, there’s no need to go looking for employment. And maybe the most incredible part of it all; you will graduate with zero debt. In fact you will have earned a paycheck throughout the entire program.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 531