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What is a Pre-Apprenticeship Program & How Does it Work?

Last updated June 12, 2024

If you're exploring different career paths, know that pre-apprenticeship programs provide a structured way to enter many of them! We share what you should know about pre-apprenticeship programs.

What is a Pre-Apprenticeship Program?

Pre-apprenticeship programs provide a structured way for students to explore different career paths before transitioning to a registered apprenticeship program to pursue a path further. These programs typically offer a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. For example, if you are in a healthcare-focused pre-apprenticeship, you may take some human science classes from a registered nurse before working in a lab or hospital to gain real work experience. These are often also paid experiences, so you get to learn and earn! 

While these kinds of programs were traditionally mostly offered in trades like construction and manufacturing, more industries are now offering pre-apprenticeships to help people explore career paths earlier, such as clean energy, information technology, healthcare, education, and architecture. 

Benefits of Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

Participating in a pre-apprenticeship program offers key benefits to consider:

  • Skill development: Gain skills and knowledge that make you an excellent candidate for potential jobs in a specific industry, and eventually, for apprenticeship programs.
  • Industry and career exposure: Explore different industries and career paths to make informed decisions about your future.
  • Networking opportunities: Connect with professionals in your chosen field and build a network that can support your career growth.
  • Smooth transition: A structured pathway into a registered apprenticeship ensures a seamless transition, reducing the learning curve once you start your apprenticeship.
  • Earn a credential: Many programs offer industry-recognized certifications that enhance your resume. These could include things like safety training certificates for manufacturing or learning specific coding languages within an IT program.
  • Earn money: Many pre-apprenticeship programs will offer wages or a stipend.

How to Find a Pre-Apprenticeship Program

These programs are typically short-term (lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months) that allow you to explore industries and job paths you might be interested in. High-quality pre-apprenticeship programs typically have partnerships with registered apprenticeship programs to make your transition as smooth as possible.

Apprenticeships are normally based around the key industries in your area. For example, if you live in a port city, there may be more maritime or shipbuilding opportunities. If you’re in a rural area, there may be more agricultural opportunities. We recommend using the Apprenticeship Finder tool to look up opportunities near you, or search “Pre-apprenticeship programs near me” online. 

Examples of Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

YouthBuild - Nationwide

YouthBuild is a community-based pre-apprenticeship program that serves opportunity youth ages 16-24. Participants split their time between vocational training in construction, healthcare, IT, and hospitality, and classroom education to earn their high school diploma or equivalent. They also engage in community service projects, such as constructing affordable housing​ or helping operate community health clinics.

Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) - Washington State

The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) offers a 10-week, free training program to young people in Washington State. Their Manufacturing Academy will give you a solid foundational career pathway into aerospace and advanced manufacturing opportunities.

Job Corps - Nationwide

Job Corps offers GED or high school diplomas and industry-recognized certificate programs in 81 high-demand industries. It's free for those between the ages of 16 to 24, and free housing is offered for those that need it.

TechBridge Youth Program - Nationwide

TechBridge offers virtual and in-school STEM programming nationwide, helping students build foundational skills in technology and innovation. It includes hands-on activities and life skills workshops​.

How to Succeed in a Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Succeeding in your pre-apprenticeship program is similar to doing well in school or excelling at any job. Here are some key things to remember as you go through your program:

  • Stay committed: Treat your pre-apprenticeship like a job! Show up on time, be reliable, and demonstrate a strong work ethic by trying your best. 
  • Be proactive: Take initiative in your learning. Ask questions, seek feedback, and look for opportunities to practice your skills.
  • Network: Build relationships with your instructors, mentors, and fellow participants. Networking can open doors to future job opportunities.
  • Stay organized: Keep track of your assignments, deadlines, and progress. Staying organized helps you manage your time effectively.
  • Seek support: Don't hesitate to ask for help if you're struggling. Utilize the resources and support services offered by your program.
  • Reflect: Be sure to take time during and after your experience to think about what you learned and if you enjoyed the experience. You could realize that you love a specific career path or not! Both are incredibly valuable as you plan for your future!

If you have questions about pre-apprenticeship programs, just text #Jobs to 33-55-77 and we'll walk you through how they work, how to find one, and what kind of options are in your area! If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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