Education ROI: Don’t forget about apprenticeships.
By The Editors

Before there was a TV show called The Apprentice, doing an apprenticeship was a great way to get paid while learning a trade. Now fast forward to the present, and it looks like apprenticeships are again a great way to launch a new career.

Education ROI: Don’t forget about apprenticeships.


You can pay to go to college or a trade school...

...or you can get an apprenticeship and get paid while you work and learn a trade.

First, a confession:

Before Donald Trump started running for president, I’d never heard of the TV show The Apprentice.

And while The Apprentice clearly made for great entertainment, since it appeared on TV with great ratings (along with The Celebrity Apprentice) for fifteen seasons, the TV show has very little to do with the kind of apprenticeships we’re talking about here.

When we say apprenticeship, we mean a formal on-the-job training program that pays you while you’re learning a trade.

That’s different from going to college or a trade school, since the apprentice is getting boots-on-the-ground training while the college or trade school student is attending class.

So, for instance, rather than paying to go to a trade school to learn how to become an electrician, an apprentice gets paid to learn on the job in preparation for a permanent job that will pay very well.

For instance, according to Forbes in May 2021:

The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME), a network of manufacturing firms, operates an apprenticeship program that showcases the best of what the model can offer. Apprentices who complete the program earn almost $100,000 after five years. The FAME apprenticeship’s integration of academic instruction and on-the-job learning produced much higher salaries than degree programs at nearby community colleges, which relied almost exclusively on classroom learning.

The federal government has also been embracing the apprenticeship model and encouraging the registration of apprenticeships at, according to Forbes:

The surge in registered apprenticeships has elicited new interest from policymakers. President Trump tried to make it easier for employers to establish apprenticeships. President Biden wants to go even further. His American Jobs Plan proposes $48 billion for workforce training, including the creation of “one to two million new registered apprenticeships slots.”

But Forbes also warns that too much government involvement could end up killing the whole deal:

The rise in registered apprenticeships is excellent news that people on both sides of the aisle can celebrate. We should all hope that the trend continues. Policymakers have tools at their disposal to support and expand the apprenticeship model. But they should remember that excessive government intervention can easily backfire.