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Understanding Apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

The word “apprenticeship” can refer to a variety of work arrangements where you learn from someone else on the job. These arrangements may be formal or informal and can be paid or unpaid. Click on the links below to learn about different types of apprenticeships.

Registered Apprenticeships (paid)

A Registered Apprenticeship is a type of nationally-recognized apprenticeship that is approved by the US Department of Labor. All Registered Apprenticeships are paid and include regular wage increases during the program. People who complete a Registered Apprenticeship earn a nationally-recognized credential and can get credit toward a college degree. The length of Registered Apprenticeship programs varies, but is typically two to four years.

Pre-apprenticeships (paid or unpaid)

Pre-apprenticeships prepare job seekers for a Registered Apprenticeship program or other job opportunities. Pre-apprenticeship programs may or may not be paid, and they are usually shorter than a Registered Apprenticeship program.

Youth apprenticeships (paid)

In Colorado, youth apprenticeships are available to 11th- and 12-grade students at participating schools through CareerWise Colorado ( CareerWise is a three-year program that combines paid on-the-job training with high school and college coursework. Ask your high school counselor or visit the CareerWise Colorado website to see if your school is part of the program.

Non-registered apprenticeships (paid or unpaid)

The term “non-registered apprenticeship” refers to any apprenticeship or internship program that is not formally registered with the US Department of Labor. There is no single definition of a non-registered apprenticeship – these programs may be paid or unpaid and may or may not lead to a certificate or job in the field. 


Why choose an apprenticeship over an entry-level job?

Registered Apprenticeships are a way to make money while advancing your education and career. According to the CO Department of Labor and Employment, “nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship with an average starting salary of $60K per year.” Unlike an entry-level job, all Registered Apprenticeships lead to an “industry-recognized credential” – a qualification that you can bring to future employers to show them your knowledge and training. In addition, many Registered Apprentices have the opportunity to get college credit or an Associate’s Degree as part of their job-training program.


Why choose a Registered Apprenticeship over other types of apprenticeship programs?

All Registered Apprenticeships are paid, include regular wage increases, and lead to an “industry-recognized credential” that shows you are qualified for a job. Registered Apprenticeship programs are nationally-recognized and must meet certain standards around pay, mentorship, education, and on-the-job training. If you are interested in an apprenticeship that is not a Registered Apprenticeship, be sure to ask the employer what the pay and other benefits of the apprenticeship program will be.


What types of careers offer Registered Apprenticeships?

Registered Apprenticeships are offered in a variety of fields including health care, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. The list below provides some examples of occupations that have Registered Apprenticeships and the average salary for people in that occupation in Colorado.

  • Automotive Service Technician: $21.00/hr
  • Barber: $15.18/hr
  • Construction Equipment Operator: $23.79/hr (drives heavy machinery)
  • Electrician: $24.81/hr
  • Medical Assistant: $17.37/hr (helps physicians with patient exams)
  • Pipefitter: $24.33/hr (installs/repairs pipes for large projects)
  • Preschool and Childcare Center Administrator: $22.65/hr
  • Software Developer: $51.80/hr (designs computer applications)
  • Welder: $21.08/hr (joins metal parts on construction projects)

You can search for a Registered Apprenticeship in a specific career field and location by going to Then call the individual program(s) to get more information on their application process and requirements. 


Are there minimum qualifications to participate in an apprenticeship?

Most Registered Apprenticeship programs require applicants to be 18 years old and authorized to work in the US (youth apprenticeships start at age 16). Each apprenticeship program has its own application process and minimum qualifications, which may include physical requirements, an interview, or testing. Call the program you are interested in to learn more.