What are some skilled apprenticeship programs I can participate in?
December 20, 2006 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I think I'm finally done with undergrad. I have no interest in grad school right now. I don't want a career in my area of study. How does one go about finding a good apprenticeship/internship in an interesting trade? I've been going to school now for around 20 years and I've yet to learn a skill that I can earn a living with.

About me:

I majored in US history and anthropology. I've worked in kitchens on and off for 4+ years. I've taught two semesters of English to foreign studens at my university's English Language Institute. I brew my own beer.

I want to learn a skill that I can make money with. I'm meticulous when I work on a project. I never want to write another paper in my life. I don't want to work 60+ hours a week to make ends meet.

Here are two posts which were related to my question, but never really went in a helpful direction:


Here's what I DON'T want right now:

1. Teaching English abroad seems like a great way to travel, but I want to develop a skill that will make me money in the long haul.

2. Peace Corps seems like a great opportunity, but I want to develop some sort of trade skill.

I like the sound of WWOOFING for a while. At least I'll learn some gardening/farming that way.

What are other programs that are free/paid that will teach me useful skills?
posted by Telf to Work & Money (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: WWOOFING, since the link in the old post was broken.
posted by Telf at 1:50 PM on December 20, 2006

How much do you need to make ends meet? Because you could work in a kitchen and makes ends meet if you have small ends.
posted by bigmusic at 2:05 PM on December 20, 2006

If you want a life trade, carpentry is a great place to be. It's pretty easy o get an entry-level job, and your committment and skills can take you far. Don't necessarily do a formal trade apprenticeship-- it's not necessary. Just get a job and see how oyu like it!

(Full disclosure: my husband is a carpenter. He has a BFA which he find less than useful in terms of making a living.)
posted by miss tea at 2:18 PM on December 20, 2006

If you enjoyed brewing beer and like the sound of WWOOFing, you could take a stab at viticulture. Hop on a plane to Australia, South Africa, Chile, or Argentina within the next month or two and you might be able to find something to do on a vineyard during harvest season.
posted by sixacross at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2006

What miss tea said. If you get on a good design/build crew, listen carefully, do what you are told, and behave yourself, you'll have skills that are always in demand, everywhere. For most desk-bound Americans, a good contractor is life-saver, a bit like the storied "good mechanic" used to be before they started to build cars that don't break very often. Most Americans have more money than skill when it comes to home repair--take it from them.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:28 PM on December 20, 2006

If I were looking for a trade, I might consider here:
posted by 4ster at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2006

I can't really help with your question, but as someone currently doing what is effectively an apprenticeship - paid, but a pittance - in an area unrelated to my degree, I'll say good luck. And warn you that if it's any kind of formal apprenticeship leading to a qualification, there's likely to be coursework. Essays. Reports. Written things. Inane, stupid, written things. Good luck with them too, or with finding something you can do that doesn't involve written coursework.
posted by Lebannen at 2:36 PM on December 20, 2006

A surprising number of history majors end up working in libraries. A surprising number also get their Masters in Library Science, which isn't at all strenuous, from what I understand.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:37 PM on December 20, 2006

What about editing and/or proofreading? (Says the editor, of course.) We're all about the meticulous... hell, that's the whole point of our existence. Having a few semesters teaching English and a general liberal arts background are great, too -- that describes plenty of editors I know, too. You won't get a lot of glory or vast riches on this career path (whether you go the freelance or the full-time route, or some combo of the two), but it's a good, solid, satisfying profession I find I truly enjoy more and more as time goes on. Not a bad way to pay the bills.
posted by scody at 2:44 PM on December 20, 2006

why not become a chef or caterer or something along those lines? brush up on your cooking skills. be famous for your brew.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:10 PM on December 20, 2006

are you technically inclined at all? I graduated with a worthless psych degree and after struggling for a while, I started to pick up HTML and web development.

It's certainly not rocket science. If you are basically comfortable with a computer, you can pick up HTML and make good money. People usually don't care about a degree, if you can do the work. At first i thought I was a "liberal arts" person and wouldn't be able to do it, but once I started to learn it became fairly easy for me.

I know it's not a "trade" in the traditional sense but its been a great way for me to make very good money- and it gives me time to write on the side, which is what I really want to do (sometimes I even do it at work)
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:34 PM on December 20, 2006

re chrisamiller: speaking as a librarian (who got the MLS 2 yrs ago), the MLS would require a fair amount of paper-writing, even a thesis in some programs. So though the MLS is not the most strenuous grad degree out there, it probably wouldn't suit someone burnt out on college.

Plus, the job market isn't all that great, and the pay is even worse.

(Though I love my job, and normally encourage like-minded people to look into the profession.)
posted by jessicak at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2006

sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread. Knee-jerk librarian self-defense there.
posted by jessicak at 7:44 PM on December 20, 2006

Best answer: I know that appreticeships programs run by local unions exist for things like becoming an electrician or plumber.

Also, check out community colleges. There are lots of two-year programs or certificate programs in skilled areas like nursing, radiography, sonography, logistics, surveying, HVAC, home construction, auto repair, paralegal work, computer networking, print technology, web design, culinary trades, etc...

Check with your local Workforce Board. Oftentimes they have information on apprenticeship programs for a region as well as labor market surveys regarding in-demand jobs.

Sometimes I wish I had just chucked the 4-year plan and gone for a skilled trade, too. But it took many years post-degree for me to get rid of my own sense of elitism and entitlement and to realize that working in a technical or non-degree field wouldn't be some sort of huge threat to my identity.
posted by Meggers_75 at 7:45 PM on December 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

No offense intended, jessicak. By 'not strenuous', I was more referring to the fact that people often work their way to an MLS one or two classes at a time. It's not necessarily an all-consuming degree, like some other programs can be.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:29 AM on December 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the info guys.

I definitely don't want to continue with food service. I've been able to do it for the past 4 years only because I've been telling myself that it's temporary. Food service is stressful! I'd like to have a job where I can talk, or take at least 1 break in a 8-12 hour period. There are easier ways to make a living than food service.

As far as viticulture, I'd been thinking about BUNAC in New Zealand. I understand that many people end up working at vineyards. Not long term, but interesting.
posted by Telf at 12:05 PM on December 21, 2006

Best answer: A friend of mine went to the Siebel Brewing Academy and he's now a brewmaster at a Rock Bottom Brewery. Listening to him talk about the program made me want to sign up, and I know painfully little about beer and brewing. Part of the program involved spending weeks in Belgium touring breweries and sampling all sorts of beer and food.

The program is spendy but short, and you come out with a pretty valuable degree and experience.
posted by mullingitover at 1:21 PM on December 21, 2006

Response by poster: Mullingitover,

That sounds AWESOME. Hmm... 13k is no joke. I wonder if I can get student loans for that.
posted by Telf at 10:22 AM on December 22, 2006

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