February 11, 2023

How Apprenticeships Prepare Students for Success in IT [updated]

"We need to help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education. We want to recruit more companies to help provide apprenticeships and other pathways so people can upgrade their skills." - Former US President Barack Obama

Apprenticeships have been documented throughout history and are referenced in cultures old and new across the world. There's a good reason for this. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for an individual to learn a new skill and gain hands-on experience while receiving compensation for their work. 

Traditionally, apprenticeships have been a learn-and-earn option in trades like carpentry, welding, and construction.  In the technology age developing tech skills through apprenticeship is a new opportunity.  Whether tech support, networking, web development, digital marketing, or project management tech apprenticeships are becoming a common entry-level opportunity for those looking for a college alternative.  

The apprenticeship model provides a win-win relationship. Businesses benefit from the apprentices' skills while apprentices gain knowledge and expertise to help them advance their careers in a specific field. The model can be used in many different industries as an effective tool for employers to find and nurture practiced labor and for apprentices to improve their skill sets and progress in a certain occupation.

Particularly for individuals looking to break into a career in IT, apprenticeships can lay the foundation for future success through paid, on-the-job training that opens doors to employment. Knowing the benefits of being an apprentice can help you decide if it's the option that works best for you. Keep reading to learn the roles and responsibilities of an apprenticeship and the benefits of working as an apprentice.

What is an apprenticeship?

First, let’s start with an understanding of how the roles of an apprenticeship work. Employers drive a structured process that combines hands-on experience and training with classroom instruction. Apprenticeship programs can help you gain skills for a particular trade or career path in a way that is both cost-efficient and effective. When considering your options for higher education, financial security, and the start of full-time employment, an apprenticeship is a great solution to each item of consideration. 

While apprenticeships are offered in the United States, in some industries more than others, it’s important to note where we rank compared to other countries. In the U.S. there are only 14 apprentices for every 1,000 workers and 4 percent of U.S. employers end up hiring their own apprentices, according to the International Skills Standards Organization. By comparison, in Australia there are 40 apprentices for every 1,000 workers, and 27 percent of Aussie employers hire their apprentices. 

Along side work and mentoring are the core of the training model that today’s entry-level workers need in order to build and sustain lifelong careers. As more employers open their eyes to the benefits of apprenticeship, the U.S. workforce will benefit from this employment model being made more common, like that in other countries. 

How are apprenticeships beneficial?

There are many benefits to the apprenticeship model; below we touch on just a few of the highlights to keep in mind as you consider whether an apprenticeship is right for you.

Pathway to a Long-Term Career - High school graduates or adults looking for a career transition can use an apprenticeship as a pathway to certain long-term careers that don't require a four-year degree.

Education and Income - An apprenticeship is both a job and a learning experience. You're able to gain skills and qualifications for long-term employment while still earning a decent wage to cover your bills and have your independent life. 

Hands-On Training and Experience - Apprenticeships offer the benefit of a varied learning environment that promotes hands-on learning. Rather than sitting in a classroom all day, an apprenticeship gives you the immediate opportunity to apply your knowledge and use your skills in daily practice. 

Access to Support - Through an apprenticeship, you have direct access to individuals who can help answer your questions, show you how to perform a skill and help you perfect techniques. Plus, you can learn what to expect in terms of pay, hours and other important back-end aspects of the job and your industry. 

Built-In Career Advancement Opportunities - An apprenticeship can afford you the ability to work toward a promotion without having to go back to school. Some workplaces offer on-the-job training programs to advance you to management, so you can learn your company's specific operations, preferences, and leadership styles for consistency and your best chance at success.

Ability to Earn Higher Wages - Completing an apprenticeship allows you to earn a higher income than job seekers in similar positions. The average starting salary for individuals who take advantage of apprenticeship programs is $50,000 per year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor

Earned Credential - When you graduate from an apprenticeship program, you get a certified credential that employers across the United States recognize and accept. Additionally, some apprenticeship programs give you the opportunity to apply credits toward a college degree or technical certificate.

Increased Retention and Job Satisfaction - Over 90% of people who complete an apprenticeship remain employed after nine months' time, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Their research shows that individuals stay devoted to companies that are willing to invest in them and help them grow. 

High-Demand IT Occupations Offering Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are in great demand. IT companies face complex challenges to keep up with the demands of rapid technological advancement. Currently, there is a high demand for apprenticeship occupations, including computer technicians, software developers, network administrators, cybersecurity analysts, web developers, designers, and IT project managers. Some industries provide greater opportunities for seeking an apprenticeship to further your professional goals than others. Here are a few of the most in-demand IT occupations that commonly provide apprenticeships. 

  • Computer Technician
  • Software Developer
  • Network Administrator
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Web Developer / Designer
  • IT Project Manager

How do you start an apprenticeship?

Choosing your next step after completing your high school formal education is a pivotal moment in your career, so it’s important to consider all of your options.  As a recent high school graduate or young professional looking for a leg-up in their desired industry, apprenticeships offer a valuable opportunity for job growth while you earn an income.  

You can apply directly to an apprenticeship without prior tech skills or experience, but like any career opportunity apprenticeships are competitive.  While you don’t need a degree to start an apprenticeship it can help your cause if you apply for an apprenticeship having learned foundational skills in a pre-apprenticeship program.

NuPaths 26-week pre-apprenticeship programs are an affordable way to build foundational tech skills and earn industry-recognized certifications that can help you stand out in a pool of apprenticeship candidates.  The pre-apprenticeship can also help you advance faster in the apprenticeship and in your career.  And NuPaths pre-apprenticeship programs include career services support that will connect you directly with apprenticeship programs that you can enter after completing a NuPaths program.  Aon, Apprenti PGH, TranZed Apprenticeships and Urban Technology Project are some of the apprenticeships that NuPaths students and grads have access to.

It’s important to recognize that parents and educators also play a role in informing and encouraging young adults to explore apprenticeships. They should encourage youth to consider all options for high-growth, skills-based career tracks that produce fulfilling and sustaining long-term careers.

The next step is to determine your path to a tech apprenticeship.  Explore pre-apprenticeship programs with NuPaths or identify and apply directly to tech apprenticeship opportunities.

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