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An apprenticeship is offered by a union, company, or other organization in construction trades, as well as in certain manufacturing specialties, and it is designed to provide the apprentice with workplace experience and skill-development through on-the-job training with a master tradesman combined with classroom learning.

Apprenticeships typically require only a high school diploma or state-issued GED, but apprenticeships can be competitive and individuals with pre-apprenticeship experience usually rise to the top of the candidate pool. A pre-apprenticeship is often a shadow job or entry-level position within a trade during which the worker proves his or her ability to show up on time and consistently, and to be the type of person others on the crew would value having on their team

For employers, apprenticeships offer an opportunity to shape the skills and experiences of a pipeline of potential employees to fit their workplace and evaluate those workers on the job. Apprenticeships last between one and six years, with the majority lasting four years. The duration will depend on the trade, with trades such as plumbers, HVAC installers, pipefitters, and electricians typically requiring four to five years; others such as carpenters, millwrights, painters, and masons requiring three to four years; and specialty trades such as elevator constructors, sheet metal workers, and operating engineers requiring two to four years.

Apprentices are paid a progressive hourly wage which builds throughout the apprenticeship period; in many cases benefits are also provided. Apprentices are usually responsible for getting themselves to the job site and training center, and they are also typically responsible for some expenses of the program, including modest tuition and/or equipment costs.

Most apprenticeship programs offer credit toward one or two years of the program based on prior successful completion of a technical college degree in the relevant field.

Upon completion of a program registered with the MN Department of Labor & Industry or Federal Department of Labor, apprentices receive an industry-issued certificate which essentially serves as proof of capability within a specific trade such that the person could comfortably seek employment within that trade on a national basis. The process of completing the apprenticeship can be called “journeying out”, because the apprentice becomes known as a journeyman electrician, for instance, or pipefitter.

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