Blog Post

The Adult's Guide to Joining an Apprenticeship Program

By Admin | Mar 21, 2024

Are you an adult looking to make a career change or advance in your current field? Are you tired of traditional education paths and eager to dive into the world of work while still learning and growing? If so, an apprenticeship program might be the perfect opportunity for you to unlock your potential and achieve your career goals.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know about apprenticeships for adults. From understanding what apprenticeships are to finding the right program for you and excelling throughout your apprenticeship journey, we've got you covered.


Understanding Apprenticeships

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a structured training program that combines on-the-job learning with classroom instruction. It provides individuals with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a specific trade or profession while earning a wage. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, including construction, healthcare, IT, manufacturing, and more.


Are apprenticeships for young adults or those early in their careers?

While it is true that many apprenticeship programs are aimed at 18-24-year-olds, not all apprenticeship programs are restricted or designed for younger adults. Here at the UA Local, for example, we have 18-24 year old apprentices but we also have apprentices who are veterans and we have those who are looking to transition into a second career. We encourage all adults who are looking to get into the skilled trades to apply.


Benefits of Apprenticeships

1. Earn While You Learn: One of the most significant advantages of apprenticeships is that you are paid for your work during the program. This allows you to support yourself financially while acquiring valuable skills.

2. Hands-On Experience: Apprenticeships offer real-world experience, which is highly valued by employers. You get to apply what you learn immediately in a practical setting.

3. Industry-Relevant Skills: Apprenticeships focus on teaching you skills that are in demand in the job market. This can lead to better job prospects and higher earning potential.

4. Networking Opportunities: You'll have the chance to build a professional network within your chosen industry, which can open doors to future job opportunities.

5. No Financial Burden: Unlike traditional education paths, apprenticeships don't saddle you with student loans. You can start your career without the burden of debt.

Hopefully, this information helps you better understand apprenticeship programs and identify if it is a good fit for you. The rest of this information will provide you with the insights to find the right apprenticeship program.


Preparing for an Apprenticeship

Before you embark on an apprenticeship journey, it's crucial to assess your goals, interests, and skills. Here's a step-by-step process to help you determine if an apprenticeship is the right choice for you:

1. Identify Your Interests: Reflect on your passions and what you enjoy doing. Consider what type of work excites you and aligns with your career aspirations.

2. Assess Your Skills: Take inventory of your existing skills, both hard (technical) and soft (communication, problem-solving). Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Set Clear Goals: Define your career goals. Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? How can an apprenticeship help you reach those goals?

4. Research Industries: Explore industries that match your interests and goals. Look into the demand for skilled workers in those sectors.

5. Speak to Professionals: Reach out to people working in the industry you're interested in. Conduct informational interviews to gain insights into the day-to-day work and the skills required.

Self-assessment is important. During the interview process at the UA Local 486 apprenticeship program, we look for candidates who want to create a long-term career in the trades. Other apprenticeship programs do the same. There are a lot of apprenticeship programs available for adults across the country, make sure it is the right fit for you before embark on one.


Finding the Right Apprenticeship Program:

Once you've assessed your interests and goals, it's time to search for an apprenticeship program that suits you. Here are some key steps to consider:

1. Research Apprenticeship Opportunities: Look for apprenticeship programs in your chosen industry or field. Websites like and industry-specific organizations can be valuable resources.

2. Check Eligibility Requirements: Each program may have specific eligibility criteria, such as educational background, age requirements, or residency. Ensure you meet these prerequisites.

3. Consider Location: Determine whether you are open to relocating for your apprenticeship or if you need to find a program close to your current location.

4. Evaluate the Curriculum: Examine the curriculum of the program. What skills will you learn? Is it in line with your career goals?

5. Assess Compensation: Understand the wage structure for apprenticeships in your chosen field. Different programs may offer varying levels of pay.

An apprenticeship program should not be a stopgap but rather a stepping stone in shaping your future career. Each will have a different focus, timeline of completion, and curriculum and will lead to different opportunities. Choose an apprenticeship program that best meets your needs.


Success starts at the Application Process

Before joining an apprenticeship program you will need to apply. The application process for apprenticeships can be competitive. This is especially true for popular programs like the UA Local apprenticeship programs. To increase your chances of success, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Apply on time: Most apprenticeship programs have an application deadline so it is wise to apply with ample time to avoid any issues that might arise while applying or so you don't accidentally put it off too long and miss the deadline.

2. Prepare for Interviews: If you are invited for an interview, practice answering common interview questions. Be prepared to discuss your career goals and how the apprenticeship fits into your plans. Your preparation will show the interviewers your commitment to excellence. 

3. Follow-Up: After applying or interviewing, send a polite follow-up email to express your continued interest in the program. Sometimes communications get missed. Following up can help avoid any communication errors. 

The application is a major part of getting into an apprenticeship program, but remember, you can always apply more than once. If you don’t get it the first time, but feel that you would be a perfect fit for a certain program, then apply again when able.


Ready to start on your apprenticeship journey?

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to jumpstart, advance or transition into a new career. After researching, have you concluded that an apprenticeship program might be the next step in your career?

If so, then great! Take some time to self-assess to identify what type of apprenticeship program would be a good fit for you and your career aspirations. And, if you’re interested in the skilled trades then consider a UA Local Apprenticeship!

Remember that your journey doesn't end with the apprenticeship itself; it's just the beginning of a fulfilling and rewarding career path. So, embrace the opportunity, work hard, and watch your potential unfold before your eyes.


Apply to the UA Local 486 Plumbers & Steamfitters Apprenticeship Program!

Do you have an interest in skilled trades or do you enjoy working with your hands? If so, then a UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Apprenticeship Program might be perfect for you!

With the UA apprenticeship program, you will get paid while you learn everything you need to make a career out of the skilled trades. This relieves the stress of having to work while going to school and taking care of your family.

If you are in the Maryland or Delaware area and looking to get into a skilled trades apprenticeship apply to one of the UA Local 486 apprenticeship programs.