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What are Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are an employer-based program that helps workers learn specialized skills needed in today’s work environment, combining on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction.


Learn About Apprenticeships

What is An Apprenticeship?

During an apprenticeship, an employer-based program, students earn nationally recognized credentials, while employers develop a talented team and close the skills gap. While many people start apprenticeships immediately after graduating from high school, they may also work well for Veterans leaving active-duty military service, those looking to change careers, or people whose jobs are being replaced by technology. Here at College of The Albemarle (COA), our goal is to help connect and support employers and apprentices.

Today’s apprenticeships cover a wide range of industries and occupations. Large and small companies across North Carolina and around the world use apprenticeship to train their employees and build a skilled workforce. North Carolina companies using the apprenticeship model include CVS, Siemens, GSK, Atrium Health, Machine Specialties Inc. and hundreds of others.

Just some of the apprenticeship opportunities offered by employers in North Carolina include those listed below, though there are many others:

  • Healthcare (surgical technician, LPN, pharmacy tech, etc.)
  • IT and cybersecurity
  • Public safety (police, fire, EMS)
  • Logistics and transportation
  • Energy (line workers, etc.)
  • Building trades (welder, electrician, plumbing, construction)
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Finance and insurance
  • Hospitality

Types of Apprenticeships

There are several types of apprenticeships:

  • Pre-Apprenticeship is for high school students who have an interest in the specific field and want to work for the employer full or part time. The pre-apprentices are paid and are often offered full apprenticeships upon graduation from high school.
  • Registered or full apprenticeships are for students who have selected their career pathway and want to train in all aspects of the occupation as they work full or part time. Registered apprenticeships also provide a wage scale that increases based on experience and skills learned.

The word internship is often mistakenly used in place of apprenticeship. They aren’t the same. Internships are typically short-term offerings that allow students to explore occupations. Employers offering internships often don’t have structured training in place or positions to offer interns upon completion of their internship. Interns also don’t receive nationally recognized credentials upon completing the internship.

Benefits of an Apprenticeship

Both employers and apprentices benefit from a formal apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships offer students paid work-based learning and associated classroom learning as they earn nationally recognized credentials. Employers benefit with a well-trained workforce, improved loyalty, and reduced turnover. Learn more about the benefits for students and employers.

COA’s Role

Community colleges work with local employers to customize classroom training to meet employer needs and supplement work-based learning. This collaborative effort enables employers to train employees to fill specific roles. Your local community college may:

  • Provide crucial support, such as curriculum development, and deliver related instruction to apprentices
  • Help develop curricula that allow apprentices to earn diplomas and certifications upon completion
  • Offer grant funding available to pay for education assistance for specific industries
  • Act as a resource partner for employers in providing the education for apprenticeship
  • Become a resource for potential financial aid for apprentices

Students, Parents and Influencers

Why Should I Choose an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a great alternative pathway to a successful career. Benefits of apprenticeship include:

  • Hands-on learning and job-related classroom or technical training provided
  • Wages that increase as new skills are learned
  • Earn national credentials, certifications, or college degrees
  • Jump-start your career, supporting yourself and your family while learning
  • Local employers offering apprenticeships give you the opportunity for a career close to home

Is an Apprenticeship Right for Me or My Student?

Not every student wants to immediately head off to a university to earn a four-year degree. For students that prefer hands-on learning, want to go right to work, prefer to stay closer to family, or would like their education partly or fully paid for, apprenticeship can be the right choice. In some cases, employers pay for 100 percent of the training costs; in others, the community colleges work with employers to obtain grant funding that covers these costs.

We often have parents or guardians say apprenticeship sounds too good to be true. It’s not. Apprenticeship is a win-win for employers and students.

How Does an Apprenticeship Work?

Most apprenticeships range from one to four years, with the apprentice earning a nationally recognized credential (or journeyperson’s certificate) after completing the program. The training programs are structured, with most programs including both hands-on and classroom education. Apprentices are paid for learning hours and work hours based on a scale that includes wage increases at specific achievement points.

How Do I Become an Apprentice?

If you’re a student or parent interested in learning more about apprenticeship opportunities in COA’s seven-county service area, contact us by completing the form below, or email [email protected] or Ginger O’Neal at [email protected].

    Learn More


    How Apprenticeship Benefits Businesses

    ApprenticeshipNC has one goal in mind: To help employers build a skilled workforce through on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction. Your ApprenticeshipNC team of dedicated consultants coordinate with your team and your local community college to develop a custom registered apprenticeship program that meets your specific needs. Some of the benefits include:

    • Reduced turnover and heightened loyalty
    • Increased productivity and employee engagement
    • Apprenticeships work for businesses of all sizes
    • Training supported by your local community college
    • Reduced search and recruitment costs
    • Improved workforce diversity
    • Assistance with grants to cover education and other costs

    ApprenticeshipNC helps workers learn specialized skills needed in today’s work environment. With an employer-driven model, we help combine on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction.

    North Carolina Apprenticeship Incentives for 2022

    The North Carolina General Assembly recently approved $12 million in funding to expand apprenticeship in the state (Session Law 2021-180 Section 6.14). The $12 million is being used to provide funds for employers to add new apprentices ages 16 to 25 based on the following criteria:

    • Small businesses within Tier 1 and 2 counties in sectors with high-demand careers (no more than 500 employees in the location)
    • $2,000 per year for employers to onboard and train apprentices
    • $2,500 per year for apprentice’s tuition, books and fees
    • Up to $15 per hour (non-high school) and up to $14 per hour (high school) salary match (50 percent reimbursement)
    • Apprentices must be hired effective July 1, 2022, or later (you may register your apprenticeship program prior to July 1 and enroll apprentices after that date to take advantage of the funding)
    • Funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026
    • Funding will be coordinated through the North Carolina Community College System
    • Pre-apprenticeships aren’t eligible for these incentives

    The high demand careers include, but aren’t limited to, the following occupation codes (contact Dr. Evonne Carter at [email protected] or 252-335-0821 ext. 2241, or an ApprenticeshipNC consultant for specifics):

    • Architecture and Engineering (17-0000)
    • Education (25-0000)
    • Healthcare Technicians (29-0000)
    • Healthcare Support (31-0000)
    • Protective Service (33-0000)
    • Food Preparation and Service (35-0000)
    • Office and Administrative Support (43-0000)
    • Construction and Extraction (47-0000)
    • Installation, Maintenance and Repairs (49-0000)
    • Production (51-0000)
    • Transportation (53-0000)

    How Does My Business Start an Apprenticeship?

    If you are ready to learn more about apprenticeship, contact Dr. Evonne Carter, COA’s Vice President of Learning, at [email protected] or 252-335-0821 ext. 2241 or Ginger O’Neal at [email protected]. Dr. Carter will coordinate a meeting with the apprenticeship consultant. Optionally, you may visit ApprenticeshipNC, find your apprenticeship consultant and work with them to set up your program.


    • Carter, Dr. Evonne

    • Vice President, Learning

    • COA – Elizabeth City: A 120

    • 252-335-0821 ext. 2241