Apprenticeship Programs in North Carolina

Getting a job without having a skill or experience can be really hard.  And sometimes getting the skills, education and experience in order to obtain a good job costs way too much money, especially if a four year degree is required.  Not to mention, full time school for four more years is not exactly for everyone.  For those people who are not the four-year university type but still want to obtain a rewarding career, there are apprenticeships.

Thinking about apprenticeships today, they are much different than they were in decades past.  Before, the local blacksmith, cooper, baker or another skilled tradesman would select a local youth as their successor and train them for years in their trade.  Today’s apprenticeships are a little similar but quite different at the same time.  You will often see local businesses or labor unions select local unskilled workers and offer them free training in return for a commitment to work for them for a certain number of years following the training period.

However, apprenticeship rules are a little different today.  Now apprentices are required to complete a specific training program. This training usually includes a predetermined amount of on the job training hours and a certain amount of classroom instruction hours.  A lot of apprenticeship programs are state regulated as well, requiring apprentices to take a state issued exam in order to qualify for journeyman status and to be licensed to work in that field.  Here are just some of these types of programs that you will find in the state ofNorth Carolina.


TheVirginiaand North Carolina Laborer’sTrainingCenteroffer apprenticeship opportunities in various construction labor work.  Training that apprentices receive include highway and heavy construction, building construction, pipeline construction and environmental remediation.  Even though the main office is located inRoanoke,Virginia, this opportunity also serves residents ofNorth Carolina.

In order to complete the program and achieve journeyman status, apprentices must complete 4000 hours of on the job training and 400 hours of classroom instruction.  On the job training requires working along with experienced journeymen to complete real life construction projects.  Classroom instruction involves learning skills in scaffold erection, general construction, mason tending, asbestos abatement, pipelaying practices, blueprint reading, safety and various operations of equipment.

For this program, apprentices start getting paid immediately.  The pay rate states between $11 and $14 and increases periodically as the apprentice progresses through the program.  Additionally, apprentices get benefits such as health insurance and a pension plan.


InAsheville,North Carolinayou will find the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local Union 238.  Here, you can find apprenticeships for residential wireman, outside wireman, installer technician, and inside wireman.  Apprentices who qualify with their application and their aptitude test will be paired up with a union contractor.  In this program, apprentices are required to complete on-site training as well as classroom instruction.  The program length and courses vary depending on which electrical trade program is chosen.  Regardless, apprentices start getting paid immediately and gain pay increases periodically throughout the program.  Additionally, apprentices receive excellent fringe benefits in the form of health insurance and pensions.  Apprentices do not have to pay for their required course tuition; however, they must be able to provide their own tools and special clothing.

In each program, apprentices learn trade skills through real-life hands-on work.  Each apprentice is guided by an experienced journeyman who will train and oversee apprentices in the field.  After the program has been completed, apprentices are left with the experience and skills to have a lifelong career in the electrical field.


Many times, apprenticeships that are offered through local unions are very competitive.  Only a limited number of applicants are accepted each year, so the unions have a method of ranking applicants based on their competency and potential.  The higher ranking applicants get selected first and the lower ranking applicants may remain on the waiting list for quite a long time.  Many apprenticeship applications require taking an aptitude test.  Your application quality and score on this test can determine where you will fall on the list of ranked applicants.  Previous work experience will also determine where you fall on that list.  Apprentices with real life work experience in related fields, classroom training or military experience will be selected first.

So if you are having a hard time getting selected in these competitive union apprenticeships, you can try to get some education to add to your application.  Many community colleges offer apprentice training courses and do not require you to already have a sponsoring employer before signing up.  So to have better luck obtaining an apprenticeship with a union or employer, try taking some courses while you wait to increase you chances of being selected for the program.

It also may feel as if the only apprenticeship opportunities are available to construction related trades.  While there are many in these fields, there are also other trade apprenticeship opportunities out there, such as for child care work or early education.

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