Apprenticeship Programs in Virginia

In the State of Virginia, an apprenticeship is seen as a paid employee of a sponsoring company.  Sponsoring companies choose untrained employees and provide them with the training and education they need to become professionals at their career.  In Virginia, there are approximately 2000 registered employers who take on apprentices regularly and there are approximately 13,000 apprentices learning careers at any given time.

To meet the state requirements of apprenticeship, employees must receive at least 2,000 hours of on the job training.  In addition to that, they must also complete 144 hours of classroom instruction per year of their apprenticeship.  In general, apprentices complete four year programs before they are ready to work on their own; however, this will change from occupation to occupation.  After completing a program, apprenticeships are elevated to journeymen status and are given a certification from the state of Virginia, which will be recognized throughout the country.  Some occupations require apprentices to take a state issued exam prior to receiving this certification.

Many apprenticeships will be found in the construction trades and other related fields.  There are other types of industries that use apprentices; however these are the most prevalent.  The most sought after and financially rewarding apprenticeships are often obtained from local unions.  These apprentice positions are usually very difficult to obtain because of the good pay and fringe benefits that often come with union apprenticeship positions.

There are also really great apprenticeship opportunities available from local businesses that are not necessarily union based.  Likewise, apprenticeships can be obtained from local master artists who wish for their skills to be passed down to the younger generation.  Skills learned from master artists usually come with a very low pay but leave the apprentice with a specialized skill that may sometimes be culturally based and can be passed down to future generations.  Likewise, learning from a local small business usually begins as an assistant position and leads to the actual learning of the trade.  These are a little harder to find than union apprentice positions, but are nonetheless still rewarding positions.  Here are just a few of the opportunities you will find in Virginia.


The Richmond Electrician’s JATC offer apprenticeship positions to area workers for the Inside Wireman trade.  Applications are taken at the office at 11255 Air Park Road in Ashland, Virginia between 9am and 11am and 1pm and 3pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In addition to filling out an application, a $20 application processing fee is also required.  To be eligible, applicants must be 17 years old or older, must have graduated from high school or have completed a GED, and must have a valid driver’s license.

If all of the above requirements are met, applicants must take an aptitude test that will determine abilities in reading comprehension and Algebra.  Applicants who receive an acceptable score on this test are granted an oral interview which will be the basis of the decision on who gets the apprentice position and who does not.

Apprentices start out with a pay of approximately $14 per hour plus full health insurance and classroom instruction will begin in the next school semester, either spring or fall.  Classes are offered one day per week in the evenings from 1pm to 7pm.  As an apprentice moves forward through the program and completes the appropriate amount of on the job training hours and classroom hours, they are eligible for periodic pay increases.  The only costs that apprentices must incur will be for personal small hand tools, protective clothing and books.  Otherwise, everything else is provided.  At the end of the program, apprentices are ready for a career in inside wiring and will be a licensed electrician in the state of Virginia.

Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Another similar electrical apprenticeship is offered through the Watson Electrical Construction Co.  This program requires a four year requirement of apprentice training.  Apprentices must complete 8000 on the job training hours and electrical apprentices must also complete 642.5 hours of related classroom instruction, plumbing apprentices must complete 622.5 hours and Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning apprentices must complete 620 hours.

Apprentices will use a combination of classroom training and self study to complete their classroom instruction hours.  There are also monthly written and performance tests which require a passing grade of 70% or higher.  Training on the job is supervised by qualified journeymen as well as specialized training supervisors.

Applicants can apply at the offices in either Richmond or Chesapeake Virginia.  Those selected for apprenticeship positions learn the skills necessary to have rewarding careers in their chosen field, either electrical, plumbing or HVAC.  They complete the program with the title of journeyman in their trade.  They receive all this education and training at no cost and receive wages while they learn.  The completion of the program earns them the certification that says they can practice they trade anywhere in the country.

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