Learn while you earn is a common phrase in today’s economy. Many people are finding ways to improve their skills and make themselves a more valuable component of future job needs through Registered Apprenticeships, or on-the-job training that allows students, or apprentices, to earn money while learning how to do a specific job in a range of applied technology fields. Students work with experienced professionals in the industry to learn new, in-demand skills in the trades.
Chancellor King recently announced the expansion of SUNY’s prior learning to count real-world experiences, such as on-the-job training, military service, industry certifications, and apprenticeships, to count toward a degree program. Apprenticeships fit right into this model.
Registered Apprenticeships are beneficial to both the employee and the employer. Workers, or the student in the apprenticeship, learn new job skills, while the employer improves their workforce through people who are already invested in the industry. The SUNY Apprenticeship Program brings employers and students together while also helping our colleges and universities develop the needed curriculum to meet the workforce demands throughout New York State.
To learn more about apprenticeships, we spoke to Christopher McNally, Ph.D., Department Chair and Professor of Applied Technologies at Hudson Valley Community College, about trade education and getting an apprenticeship. He challenges us to think about apprenticeship programs beyond the word “trades” and as applied technologies instead since these programs are often innovative and have an academic component to them.
Why become an apprentice?
One of the biggest perks of becoming an apprentice is that there is little to no cost to prepare for a new career, and you already have a job. As an apprentice, you are an employee of the company where you are learning the skills, so you earn an income while you learn/train.
Apprenticeships typically last from 1 to 5 years, depending on the field and program. At the end of the apprenticeship, you will have a new, high-demand skillset, a certification, and potentially be well on the way to earning a degree, as well as job experience to add to your resume.
As an apprentice, you work for an employer that sponsors or participates in the program, so applicants may have to meet common hiring requirements such as:
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Experience in the field or specific courses related to the field.
- Physical requirements that are relevant to the job or industry they are gaining skills for.
How to enter into an apprenticeship
To become an apprentice in New York State, individuals can apply to a NYS Registered Apprenticeship program. For a list of current active program sponsors, visit the New York State Department of Labor website or complete a SUNY Apprenticeship Program pre-apprenticeship training program and gain skills to prepare you to apply for an apprenticeship opportunity.
What can I learn in an apprenticeship program?
NYS Registered Apprenticeships are recognized nationally, and you can become an apprentice in a variety of industries, some of which include:
- Building and manufacturing technology
- Industrial technology
- Automotive and transportation
- Brewery, distillery, and culinary arts
- Jewelry and artisanship
The NYS Department of Labor has a complete list of approved apprenticeship trades available on their website.
In addition to on-the-job training, some apprenticeships may require classroom/related instruction offered online or at a local community college, BOCES facility, technology college, or a trade or technical school.
Once you complete the required hands-on training and related instruction courses, you will receive a Certificate of Completion and journeyworker card “Certificate of Completion.” If your program requires includes classes at a community college, technology college, or trade school, you will also have completed coursework leading to a earn an associate degree in the area.
Where you can apply to become an apprentice
If you want to become an apprentice to learn a trade, you can
- Visit SUNY’s apprenticeship page for students
- Contact your local community or technology college
- Reach out to BOCES or talk to your counselor and inquire about BOCES opportunities in high school
- Contact a local NYS Department of Labor apprenticeship office
- Visit the NYS Job Bank to find openings