How to Employ an Apprentice: A Step-by-Step Guide

Employing an apprentice doesn’t have to be hard. Learn how it’s traditionally done and see how easy it is with Apprentix.

February 11, 2024

In today's competitive job market, businesses of all sizes are constantly seeking ways to enhance their workforce and support growth. 

In recent years, apprenticeships have emerged as a viable solution for companies looking to train and develop their employees on-the-job while also providing valuable work experience to individuals seeking to enter the workforce. 

But, how do you go about employing an apprentice? 

From understanding the apprenticeship process to legally compliant documentation, this step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully hire and train apprentices.

Understanding the Apprenticeship Process

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a form of job training that provides employees with the opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience on-the-job. Apprenticeships are typically a combination of classroom instruction and practical skills development, and they're historically used in the crafts, trades, and technical professions but now, apprenticeships are being used across all industries and jobs.

Federally registered apprenticeships are also highly regulated by government agencies to ensure apprentices receive quality training and support, but employers do not need to register their apprenticeship programs. That is a totally optional choice.

Apprenticeships have a long history dating back to the Middle Ages when guilds would take on young apprentices to learn a craft or trade. Today, apprenticeships are still an important way for individuals to gain skills and experience in a particular field.

Benefits of Hiring an Apprentice

There are numerous benefits of employing an apprentice, both for your business and the apprentices themselves. For businesses, apprenticeships can help mitigate the skills gap, develop a highly skilled workforce, and expand the talent pool. In addition, apprenticeships can help businesses meet regulatory requirements and improve their reputation as a socially responsible employer.

For the apprentices themselves, they can earn while they learn, gain real-world work experience, and receive on-the-job training and mentorship. Apprenticeships also provide a clear path for career development and can lead to higher wages and job security.

Different types of apprenticeships

There are various types of apprenticeships available, including craft, trade, technical, modern, and youth apprenticeships. 

Craft apprenticeships are most common in construction and are designed to teach the practical and technical skills needed to become a skilled tradesperson. 

Trade apprenticeships focus on specific industries like plumbing, electrician, and HVAC technicians. 

Technical apprenticeships are typically found in engineering, manufacturing, and other technical fields and prioritize technical training and competence.

Modern apprenticeships can be found in a wide range of industries, including but not limited to technology, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and more. They can be at different levels, from intermediate (equivalent to high school completion) to degree apprenticeships (equivalent to a bachelor's or master's degree).

Youth apprenticeships are designed for those in high school. These programs allow high school students to begin an apprenticeship while still completing their high school education. They are designed to provide students with a combination of academic education and practical work experience.

All of these programs provide an alternative path to traditional education routes, allowing individuals to start their careers while also gaining valuable qualifications. They're particularly beneficial to those who prefer a more practical, hands-on approach to learning, or those who wish to avoid the high costs of traditional higher education.

Overall, apprenticeships are a valuable way for individuals to gain real-world experience and develop the skills needed to succeed in a particular field. For businesses, apprenticeships can help develop a highly skilled workforce and improve their bottom line by reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

Preparing Your Business for an Apprentice

Assessing your company's needs

Before hiring an apprentice, it's important to assess your company's needs and determine the type of apprentice that would provide the most value. 

Some questions to ask include:

  • What skills are most needed? 
  • What areas are experiencing growth? 
  • What projects are coming up that may require additional support?

For example, if your company is in the tech industry and you're experiencing growth in your software development department, it may be beneficial to hire an apprentice with a background in computer science. This will provide your company with additional support in an area that is experiencing growth, while also allowing the apprentice to gain valuable experience in their field.

Additionally, assessing your company's needs can help you determine the length of the apprenticeship. If you have a specific project that requires additional support, you may only need an apprentice for a few months. However, if you're looking for a long-term investment in your company's future, you may want to consider a longer apprenticeship program.

Creating a skills-based apprenticeship job description

Once you've determined what an apprentice in your organization will do, the next step is to craft a job description that clearly outlines the goals, requirements, and expectations of the role. This helps to ensure that both you and the apprentice have a clear understanding of what is expected, and it helps to attract qualified candidates.

When creating a skills-based job description, it's important to be specific about the hard and soft skills required for the role without focusing on experience and education (unless there are prerequisites).

Apprentix automates the skills-based job description for you. Just enter the job title and within seconds, your skills-based job description is built.

This will help to attract candidates who are a good fit for the position and will be able to contribute to the company's success. Additionally, including information about the company culture and values can help to attract candidates who share similar beliefs and will be a good fit for the team.

For example, if your company values teamwork and collaboration, you may want to include information about how the apprentice will be working closely with other team members and contributing to group projects.

Setting up a training plan

Once you've hired an apprentice, it's essential to have a plan in place for their training and development. This training plan should outline the skills and knowledge they will need to gain during their apprenticeship, as well as specific training modules, on-the-job experience, and any relevant certifications they will need to earn. Having a comprehensive training plan in place will help to ensure the apprentice is fully equipped to meet the company's needs.

When setting up a training plan, it's important to consider the apprentice's goals and interests. This will help to keep them engaged and motivated throughout the apprenticeship. Additionally, providing opportunities for the apprentice to work on real projects and gain hands-on experience can help to accelerate their learning and development.

For example, if your company is developing a new product, you may want to assign the apprentice to work on a specific feature or component of the product. This will give them the opportunity to gain experience working on a real project, while also contributing to the company's success.

In conclusion, preparing your business for an apprentice requires careful planning and consideration. By assessing your company's needs, creating a comprehensive job description, and setting up a training plan, you can ensure that the apprentice is fully equipped to meet the company's needs and contribute to its success.

Finding the Right Apprentice

Advertising the apprenticeship position

Depending on the type of apprenticeship, there are various methods to advertise that the position is available. Some options include contacting local schools or universities, posting the position on job boards or industry websites, or using social media to spread the word about the opportunity.

Collaborating with local schools and colleges

Collaborating with a local education institution can be an excellent way to find potential apprentices who are motivated to learn and eager to develop their skills. Many schools have established apprenticeship programs, and working with them can lead to qualified candidates with relevant experience.

Screening and interviewing candidates

Just like with any other job posting, it's important to screen and interview potential candidates before hiring an apprentice. This process allows you to assess their skills and experience, as well as determine if they're the right fit for your company's culture and values. Interviews can take place in-person or virtually, and the purpose is to get to know the candidate better and determine if they're a good match for the company's needs.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

Registering with an apprenticeship service

A company must register with an apprenticeship service to be eligible to hire an apprentice. These services vary by location, so be sure to research the requirements in your area. Typically, the employer agrees to provide training and job-related experience, and the service will provide financial assistance and resources for apprenticeship programs.

Creating an apprenticeship agreement

An apprenticeship agreement should outline the obligations and expectations of both the employer and the apprentice. This agreement includes details such as the start and end dates of the apprenticeship, the vacation policy, the apprentice's pay structure, and the types and amount of training required. This apprenticeship agreement should be signed by both parties and kept on file for future reference.

Ensuring compliance with labor laws

Apprenticeships are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which outlines various labor laws that companies must follow. This includes minimum wage, overtime, and working conditions. It's essential to ensure compliance with these laws to protect both the apprentice and the company from legal action.


In conclusion, hiring an apprentice can be an excellent way to enhance your workforce while also supporting the career development of an aspiring professional. By following these steps and seeking out the right resources, you can find the perfect apprentice for your business, provide valuable on-the-job training, and create a successful partnership. 

Remember, apprenticeships are just the start of a long-term investment that can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.

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