young man and old man work in apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have long played a major role in training America’s skilled workers, combining classroom learning, on-the-job training and wages that increase as skills are learned. Apprentices not only get paid while learning the skills for a high-demand job, they earn a nationally recognized industry certification.

With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why many job seekers are looking for apprenticeship opportunities.

What do employers look for in an apprentice?

Apprentices go to school for 2-4 years while working full time; they need to balance work, school and life. Employers are looking for individuals who are willing to commit to the process, are dependable, have a positive work ethic and a willingness to learn.

How can I find an apprenticeship opportunity?

Most often, employers with apprenticeship programs enter existing workers into their programs instead of hiring someone to enter directly into the program.

Custom Profile, a manufacturer in Grand Rapids, is one of many West Michigan employers who use apprenticeships to train their workforce.

“Our apprenticeship programs allow us to give our employees something really valuable: a chance to learn new skills,” said Jenny Redes, human resources manager at Custom Profile.

You can find employers in your area with apprenticeship programs by searching Career One Stop. Once you’ve identified employers with programs, check job search websites like or to see if they have any openings. Apply for an entry-level position, express your interest in an apprenticeship and then show them that you’re worth investing in!

“One of our employees has been with us for twenty years. Through apprenticeship, he was able to get the skills needed to move up within the company,” Redes said. “We were so excited to see him take advantage of this opportunity!”

Occasionally, West Michigan Works! will have a cohort-style apprenticeship program, such as the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship program. Check for current opportunities and application periods.

Or visit a service center and ask to meet with a talent development specialist. They can help you with job search, resume writing, interviewing skills and connections with potential employers.