Internships and apprenticeships are both unique workplace opportunities. Many employers use the terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. Before you apply for one or the other, you need to know the differences between them.
To keep it simple, internships are an opportunity for a student to learn about a career and use that experience to help decide his career path. An apprenticeship is a position to learn a trade at an expert level and become a professional part of the workforce. This is done through mentoring, instructing, and sharing of knowledge. As an apprentice, you’ll learn all the secrets of a profession and upon completion you will be an employable part of the workforce.
By definition, apprenticeships are legal agreements that last a certain amount of time during which an individual is instructed on how to be a professional in a trade, art, or business. Apprentices work side-by-side with experienced professionals to develop the necessary skills to be employed in that profession. An apprenticeship may last several years or thousands of hours.
Apprentices, also called protégés, have been around since the Middle Ages and traditionally their training is designed to pass on skills from one generation to the next. Even today, this work-based training ensures that skilled professionals are always available to serve the needs of the people. Apprenticeships often bring up images of young people pounding metal, baking bread, or farming the fields, but apprenticeships are more than that.
In the US, the Smith-Hughes Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the National Apprenticeship Act govern the world of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are not as popular as internships in the US, but their advantage is to link your education directly to your career and to give you employable skills.
Apprenticeships train applicants to be a part of the workforce by teaching skills to people who have already determined their career path. Most apprenticeships are in skilled trades like carpentry, glass blowing, cooking, electrical, pipefitting, or other jobs where transferable knowledge and skills can be put to use. Many apprenticeships train people for licensed, regulated professions.
Apprentices are paid from day one and their wages increase as they develop the skills that will provide them with a career and decent salary upon completion. Apprentices do not have to be enrolled in school or seeking higher education to apply. The entire training process can last anywhere from 1 to 6 years. The US Department of Labor specifies that Registered Apprenticeships must last at least 2,000 hours.
When you start a proper apprenticeship, you may be a novice, but at the end you will have measurable skills, education, and the ability to work on your own. Committing to an apprenticeship means you are choosing your career path – a major difference from an internship.
Both internships and apprenticeships are excellent ways to gain professional experience, but they vary greatly. Both offer the opportunity to network, develop skills, build a resume, and work hands-on with experts. The difference between the two is the outcome – apprenticeships produce skilled professionals and internships offer a glimpse into the world of business. Only you can choose which one is right for you!