Apprenticeships are a time-honored tradition of passing on craftsmanship, knowledge, and skills to the next generation in the workplace. This tried-and-true method of on-the-job training has been in Montana for many years and plays an integral part in our worker training systems. Apprenticeships offer workers a way to earn while they learn, reducing the amount of time the worker must spend out of the labor force while obtaining a certification.
The training program typically runs three or four years to completion, depending on the occupation, but apprentices are offered an hourly wage while learning hands-on skills alongside a journeyman or mentor. Apprentices that successfully completed the program earn average wages of $59,600 in 2015, much higher than the statewide average wage of $40,065.
While traditional apprenticeable occupations are a large part of the current program, the apprenticeship program is evolving to include a wider range of occupations in order to meet the training needs of our economy. Today’s apprentices study in fields such as information technology and healthcare, in addition to the traditional apprenticeships for plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. Apprenticeships often require college-level classroom learning to keep up with the science, computing, and technologies needed for modern day success.
Apprenticeship Quick Facts:
- Apprenticeship training has been gaining popularity in the last five years, responding to the increased demand for trained workers by businesses. There were 583 new apprenticeships in 2015 compared to 266 new in 2010.
- Apprenticeships result in high-paying jobs. Apprentices who successfully completed their training had an average wage of $59,600 in 2015, nearly $20,000 higher than the statewide average wage and 65 percent higher than participants that started a program, but did not finish it.
- Graduates that completed their program in 2014 saw a 20 percent increase in wages within one year of graduation. Wages during the year after graduation were 117 percent higher than their wages five years earlier.
- In comparison, participants who did not complete their apprenticeship training experienced a wage increase of 6 percent over the year and 61 percent from five years prior.
- Apprenticeships help keep skilled workers in Montana. Eighty-nine percent of apprentices that have graduated from the program since 2010 are currently working for a Montana employer.
- The number of sponsors has been increasing by approximately five percent per year in the last three years.
- The programs are largely based in the more populated counties. In fact, 42 percent of all apprenticeship programs are in the three counties of Lewis & Clark, Gallatin, and Yellowstone County.
- 53 out of Montana’s 56 counties have had an apprenticeship since 2000.
- There are 60 different occupations available for apprenticing in Montana, with more occupations being added when employers express interest. Sixteen of the 60 occupations have started since 2012, including nursing aides.
- The majority of apprentices are in the traditional fields, with 36 percent of programs for electricians and 22 percent for plumbing. These two occupations require an apprentice certificate for licensing in Montana.
- Nursing aides is the fastest growing new program. Two apprentices participated in the nursing aide apprentice program in its first year (2015), and there are 26 new apprentices enrolled in 2016.
- Apprentices are generally between the ages of 25 and 44. In recent years, there has been an increase of those using the program between the ages of 16 and 24.
- Roughly 38 percent of individuals starting an apprenticeship since 2000 successfully completed a program. Although this completion rate may seem low, it is higher than other educational programs offered in Montana. Roughly 20 to 24 percent of associate degree seekers entering Montana University System Schools successfully graduate within four years.
Number of Active Apprenticeships in Montana, 2015
Source: Montana Department of Labor & Industry RAP, 2016. Employment and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Survey, May 2015.
New Registered Apprenticeship Occupations added since 2012
Source: DLI apprentice program and UI wage match, 2016. Data through July 20, 2016.