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There are three types of registered apprenticeships: One is based on a fixed amount of training time, another is based on competency, and the third is a combination of those.

Apprentice Eligibility

The federal guidelines require you to sign an apprenticeship agreement and complete at least 2,000 hours of apprentice training in fixed time or by demonstrating the equivalent training time in observable and measurable competencies.

You must also be at least 18 years old for most hazardous occupations and at least 16 for others, because of child labor laws.

Outside of that, registered apprenticeship program sponsors are allowed to set their own minimum eligibility requirements, qualifications and credentials for apprentices; but, they must be fair, nondiscriminatory, and comply with federal or state guidelines and labor laws.

For example, an apprenticeship sponsor may require you to submit your resume, "pass" one or more interviews, take a qualifying aptitude test, or have certain work experience or a particular education level, such as a high school diploma, college degree or certification.

You will also need the physical and mental abilities to satisfactorily do the job and complete the related apprentice training. If you are disabled, then an apprenticeship sponsor and your subsequent "real-world" employers must reasonably accommodate you, unless they are not legally bound by disability discrimination laws or it causes them undue hardship.

Applying to Become an Apprentice

If you know of an employer or union involved in the industry in which you want to become an apprentice, then contact one or the other to inquire about an apprenticeship program and applying. If one or the other sponsors such a program, then you might want to schedule an informational interview to learn more about it before applying; it's also a good way to get your foot in the door.

For example, if you would like to apply to become an apprentice electrician, start by contacting the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. It's a cooperative venture between the National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, big unions that represent electricians in several industries.

If you know someone who works for a local company or is a member of a local union for which you'd like to apprentice, then talk to him or her about applying.

To learn more about applying for an apprenticeship or to explore your options if you don't yet know what type of apprentice you would like to become, try one or more of the following.

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