What Is an Apprenticeship?

Updated December 10, 2022

Apprenticeships provide an essential avenue to gain practical skills and experience in a particular industry. Organizations use these programs to equip new and old employees with the necessary skills to succeed in the business. Understanding how apprenticeships work can be a good way to decide if these programs are right for you. In this article, we explore what an apprenticeship is, how to join an apprenticeship program and the jobs that these programs can lead to.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a program that trains people to become skilled workers in a particular trade. It allows a company to meet its immediate needs for skilled employees while providing training to them. Apprenticeships involve an employment contract that allows apprentices to receive wages during the program. They also enable practitioners to obtain a license to practice in a regulated profession.

Apprenticeships are more common in manual and labour-intensive industries such as construction, manufacturing, and automotive industries. However, the concept is rapidly spreading in growing industries such as logistics, information technology, energy, and healthcare.

Related: Examples of Apprenticeship Programs (With Benefits)

How does an apprenticeship work?

The specific operations of apprenticeship programs vary significantly depending on the industry, profession, and company culture. However, there are some common elements to apprenticeship programs across various industries:

Learning on the job

An essential element of an apprenticeship program is undergoing hands-on training under a licensed mentor. In addition, the mentors will conduct the training in line with industry standards within the country.

An apprenticeship program allows you to develop in an environment where you can apply the practical skills and knowledge obtained during your training. In most cases, apprentices gain more technical training that allows them to earn promotions faster than their peers in the same industry.

Earn while you work

Apprenticeship programs typically operate as full-time employment, so apprentices receive payment. The base rate is usually low, but many companies increase the pay as apprentices progress through the program.

Classroom instruction

Apprenticeship programs may last between two to four years, depending on the industry. In addition to on-the-job training, apprentices receive technical training in the classroom. Companies may collaborate with academic institutions to develop courses independently for the programs. For most trades, you work for up to a year before switching to classroom learning, which lasts up to eight to twelve weeks.

Certification upon completion

After completing both on-the-job and in-class training, you can apply to be a certified journeyperson. A registered apprentice who has met all the requirements and has completed all the mandatory examinations receives a certificate of completion, also called a ticket. Your ticket is valid throughout the country, allowing you to work in any province or territory.

Related: The 10 Most Valuable Certifications Today

How to get an apprenticeship

To get an apprenticeship, you must first find a program that aligns with your career goals. Follow these steps to learn how to get an apprenticeship program:

1. Find a suitable industry

The first step is choosing the industry that best fits your skill set. In case of uncertainty, you can consider choosing from the designated list of Red Seal trades. Picking a Red Seal trade allows you to apply for the Red Seal Certification which qualifies you to work anywhere across the country.

You can also look for apprenticeship opportunities on Indeed.com by searching for the job title of your choice, followed by “apprenticeship” or “apprentice” in the search engine.

Related: How to Choose a Career Path in 10 Easy Steps

2. Meet the basic requirements

Different apprenticeship programs have varying eligibility requirements, depending on the type of industry. Generally, you have to be 16 years of age or older to qualify. You must also meet the physical requirements to perform the necessary activities.

In addition, you will need the basic educational requirements for your chosen trade. For example, some employers may consider aptitude test scores, grades, or minimum work experience. Some employers may also set the pre-apprenticeship training program as a requirement for selection. This program helps aspiring apprentices develop their skills and better prepare them to find jobs as apprentices.

3. Meet other eligibility requirements

If you're in high school, you can find a youth apprenticeship program. It may be helpful to take courses and take part in dual credit programs that match your career goals. In some provinces, you need to attend classroom training at a training institution first before undergoing on-the-job training with a sponsor.

4. Find an employer or sponsor

If you meet all the eligibility requirements, you will need to find a job with an employer to sponsor you. Your sponsor or employer is the person who provides you with on-the-job training. Your sponsor could be a union of workers or an individual employer. You can get a sponsor by applying directly to companies' job ads, or taking part in government employment programs.

Related: How to Teach an Apprentice (With Essential Skills)

5. Register your agreement

When your sponsor agrees to provide on-the-job training, it creates an agreement for both of you. You will then need to register the training agreement with your local apprenticeship authority.

6. Apply for financial aid (optional)

There are various grants and incentives available to apprentices to help cover the costs of an apprenticeship program. They can also provide funding that allows you to continue working in your chosen trade after the apprenticeship program. Applying for any form of financial aid is optional.

Benefits of an apprenticeship

The benefits of an apprenticeship program are considerable, making it a fast-growing career training option. Here are some of the benefits you can gain from an apprenticeship:

Valuable connections

An apprenticeship allows you to learn from recognized experts in the field, and build valuable connections with them. Apprentices can earn the respect of journeypeople, and build a strong reputation for themselves in their fields.

Get into an in-demand industry

Apprenticeship programs allow you to get into companies across various industries that require skilled people to fill critical positions. Thanks to the high demand for skilled labour, you may have multiple options and opportunities to choose from.

Related: Apply to These 20 Skilled Trade Jobs in Canada


The in-class technical aspect of apprenticeship programs makes them a viable alternative to college degrees. Trusted agencies that provide some of the best education for a specific occupation in the country regulate these programs, making them well respected.

Apprenticeship programs help you acquire a Certificate of Qualification (CoQ), which employers regard as a form of basic qualification. Some trades also offer an interprovincial Red Seal endorsement, which certifies you to work anywhere in the country.

Careers that start with an apprenticeship

Various careers across multiple industries start with an apprenticeship, however, some industries rely more heavily on apprenticeship programs to train new workers. Here are five career paths that start with an apprenticeship:

1. Hairstylist

National average salary: $17.51 per hour

Primary duties: A hairstylist provides a full range of hair care services in a salon. These services include cutting, styling, colouring, washing, and wax treatment of hair. Stylists suggest options for hairstyles that are compatible with the client's features and determine a style from the client's instructions.

Companies that offer an apprenticeship: Trade Secrets Eastgate, GOA Hair Salon Ltd., Curious Hair Salon

2. Electrician

National average salary: $33.60 per hour

Primary duties: An electrician specializes in the electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines, and related equipment. They check for problems in electrical components, repair equipment, and ensure they comply with the regulations. Most apprenticeship programs for electricians involve four or five years of training, including at least 3,000 hours and 3360 hours of on-the-job training and technical instruction, respectively.

Companies that offer an apprenticeship: Gates Corporation, Pacificom Integration Ltd., Anishnabeg Outreach Training and Employment Inc.

Read more: Is Being an Electrician a Good Job? (With Benefits)

3. Retail sales associate

National average salary: $16.64 per hour

Primary duties: Retail sales associates are responsible for all sales activities and sales associate duties, from offering assistance, lending opinions, answering questions and assisting in displaying merchandise on the selling floor. There is no formal training requirement for this role; sales associates learn by assisting senior sales associates or managers.

Companies that offer an apprenticeship: Bell Mobility, 7-Eleven Inc., Holt Renfrew

4. Arborist

National average salary: $26.58 per hour

Primary duties: An arborist maintains trees and shrubs through pruning and trimming to ensure that they do not interfere with public works such as roads, sidewalks, and power lines. Some arborists focus on improving the appearance and general health of trees and plants. Arborists must undergo 6,000 hours of training consisting of 5,340 hours of work-related training hours and 660 hours of instruction hours before receiving certification.

Companies that offer an apprenticeship: Davey Tree Canada, Ashley's Tree Care, Four Seasons Tree Care

Read more: How To Become an Arborist in Four Direct Steps

5. Chef

National average salary: $21.26 per hour

Primary duties: A chef's responsibilities include handling all food-related issues and handling food preparation needs at restaurants. They bake, cook, and prepare predetermined menu items or develop new ideas for menus and dishes. The term of apprenticeship for a chef is three 12-month periods, which includes at least 1560 hours of work-related training and 1344 hours of technical training hours.

Companies that offer an apprenticeship: Grill Fish King Restaurant, Argus Hospitality Group, Lina's Italian Supermercato

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

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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