This pathway involves a combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction under the supervision of a journey-level craft person or trade professional in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation.
Five components of an apprenticeship:
- On-the-job training
- Job-related instruction
- Rewards skill gains (progressive increases in skills and wages)
- National industry-recognized credential
How to Pursue This Pathway
Who operates apprenticeship programs?
Every apprenticeship program has a “sponsor.” The sponsor is responsible for the overall operation of the program.
Sponsors may include entities at any of the following:
- Employers; single business or a consortium of businesses
- Union and non-union workplaces
- Workforce intermediaries (i.e. labor organizations)
- Community colleges
- Community-based organizations
Regardless of who serves as the sponsor, apprenticeships are always employer-driven and employers are involved throughout the process.
What are the basic qualifications?
Each sponsor identifies the minimum qualifications to apply for a program. The eligible starting age can be no less than 16 years of age; however, most programs require individuals to be at least 18 years of age. For more information, please review the Apprenticeship Toolkit.
How long are these programs?
It depends on the complexity of the occupation and the type of program model the sponsor chooses. Apprenticeship programs range in length from 1 to 6 years. For more information, please review the Apprenticeship Toolkit.
What does an apprentice receive upon completion of a program?
A national industry-recognized credential from the U.S. Department of Labor that is portable and stackable. For more information, please review the Apprenticeship Toolkit.
What is Career Launch Chicago?
In an effort to prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Career Launch Chicago will bring together Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, and some of Chicago’s leading businesses and institutions. It will create apprenticeships, which will allow young people to take college courses in high school, earn college credentials, and get paid to build experience in a field they are passionate about.
Starting in Fall 2020, Career Launch Chicago will recruit students for a pilot cohort of 50 apprentices, with a goal of growing the initiative to 1,000 apprentices by 2024. Unique to this apprenticeship model will be the engagement of employers who commit to creating paid on-the-job training opportunities for apprentices in order to help meet their talent needs. For more information, email LearnPlanSucceed@cps.edu.
If an apprenticeship program is a postsecondary option that interests you, consider taking the next steps:
- Before you start. Decide if an apprenticeship is right for you. Commitment is a main ingredient when starting an apprenticeship. They are often a good fit for individuals who want to do technical, hands on, kinds of jobs.
- Be prepared to earn while you learn. You will balance work commitments with academic study.
- Find an apprenticeship. Competition can be fierce! Approach the search like you would a job. Prepare to network and search for programs that fit your interests. To start your search, use Apprenticeship Finders through the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and the US Department of Labor. Contact the employer or the program sponsor for more information.
- Apply and interview. Apply directly with the employer or the program sponsor. Get help with applications, creating a resume and cover letter, and preparing for interviews and assessments.
Sources of Information
In general, information published by these sources is both current and reliable.
- Apprenticeship Checklist
- IDES - How to Become Apprentice
- US Dept of Labor - How to Become an Apprentice
- Apprenticeship Training at IL Community Colleges - Directory of community colleges in Illinois that offer apprenticeship programs.
- Apprenticeships at City College of Chicago - CCC Apprenticeship Programs.
- IL Skilled Trade Labor Unions - Click on each Occupational Link below that you are interested in to learn more about apprenticeship opportunities and how to apply.
- Chicagoland Career Pathways - A free and open website where young adults and their guides (parents, teachers, counselors, mentors) across Chicagoland can learn about free or low-cost training and certification programs that can lead to rewarding employment. The directory is searchable by career field, eligibility requirements, certification/credential, location, and more. The directory is a resource for adults finishing GED programs as well.
- Chicago Women in Trades - Build a career. Join a sisterhood. Chicago Women in Trades is a welcoming and supportive
community committed to providing quality training and resources for women seeking to build successful careers.
- Chicago Building & Construction Trades Council - The Council represents approximately 100,000 working men and women from 24 affiliated organizations in the union construction trades for the Chicago & Cook County area.
- CISCO - The Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO) is a non-profit labor management association.
- Job Corps - The largest FREE residential education and job training program for your adults ages 16-24.
- National Institute for Metalworking Skills - NIMS sets industry skills standards, certifies individual skills against the standards, accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements, and promotes innovative solutions, such as competency-based apprenticeship, to connect credentialed and work-ready individuals with employers.
- Apprenticeship.gov (US Sponsor Database) A one-stop source for all things apprenticeships. Become familiar with the Apprenticeship Finder.
- Career One Stop - The source for career exploration, training and jobs. Sponsored by the US Department of Labor and a proud partner of the American Job Center network.
- Youth Apprenticeship Programs - Apprenticeship programs for youth between the ages of 16-24 combine academic and technical classroom instruction with work experience through an apprenticeship program. It provides the foundation for youth to choose among multiple pathways – to enroll in college, begin full-time employment, or a combination.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - This form is used to apply for federal financial aid for college, career schools, or grad school.
- FSA ID - A username and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. Only create an FSA ID using your own personal information and for your own exclusive use.
- FSA Pubs - The office of Federal Student Aid provides publications, fact sheets, online tools, and other resources to help you prepare and pay for college or career school. Resources are grouped by topics.
- Illinois Postsecondary Handbook - A reference source produced by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to provide general admission and financial aid information about Illinois postsecondary institutions. Please check with each institution for exact costs.
- Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) - The state’s college access and financial aid agency.
- Naviance for CPS - A tool that enables students in grades 6 through 12 to conduct comprehensive college and career planning. Use your CPS username and password to login.
- Alternate Application for Illinois Financial Aid (for qualifying undocumented and transgender students) - Effective January 2020, the IL RISE Act permits state aid to be awarded to persons who are not otherwise eligible for federal financial aid, including, but not limited to transgender students and noncitizen students who have not obtained lawful US permanent residence.
- SAT - Find out tests dates and information on what kinds of questions you’ll see and what the test measures.
- CPS Academic Works - Complete the General Application to begin reviewing scholarship applications.
- CPS Scholarship Alert Workbook - Search for scholarships.