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Program Comparison

Design your Apprenticeship Program

All high-quality apprenticeship programs consist of five core components. Follow the table below to design your program while reviewing the specific requirements for a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) or an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP).

RAPs are a proven model of apprenticeship that has been validated by the Department of Labor or a DOL recognized State Apprenticeship Agency. 

IRAPs are a high-quality, customizable model of apprenticeship that has been validated by a Department of Labor recognized Standards Recognition Entity pursuant to standards set by the Department. Please note that these are general IRAP components; some SREs may have additional components and requirements based on the needs of each industry.

Program Comparison
Apprenticeship ComponentsRegistered Apprenticeship Program (RAP)Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP)

Paid Job

Apprentices are paid allowing them to earn and learn.

Apprentices are paid a progressively increasing schedule of wages consistent with the skill acquired and as determined by the program sponsor.  RAPs are available in all industry sectors as long as the occupation is deemed “apprenticeable”.Apprentices are paid. Pay increases are not required, but IRAPs must make clear what wages will be paid and under what circumstances the pay will increase. Since the RAP model is already widespread within the construction sector, IRAPs can be developed in any sector except construction, and any occupation except those that include construction activities.

On-the-Job Learning

Create a structured on-the job learning model that allows apprentices to apply what they’ve learned and to gain competency in their field.

Generally requires a minimum of 2,000 hours (or one year) of on the job learning for time-based and hybrid programs. RAPs can also be competency-based.No minimum time requirement and may be shorter than one year. Structured work experiences must be competency-based.

Classroom Learning

Choose a training provider that can be either internal or external (e.g., community college, online training provider, or in-house).

A minimum of 144 hours of Related Training and Instruction (RTI) is recommended for each year of the RAP.Industry sets the standard and defines the parameters for the Related Instruction (RI) component of the program.

Mentorship & Supervision

Ensure structured mentorship and supervision to provide support to apprentices.

A one-to-one ratio of experienced workers to apprentices is highly recommended to ensure quality instruction and supervision; however, RAP sponsors can request an expanded ratio based on their specific occupational needs.No set ratio of mentors to apprentices; however, programs must provide apprentices structured mentorship opportunities throughout the duration of the apprenticeship that involves ongoing, focused supervision and training by experienced instructors and employees.


Identifyan industry-recognizedcredential to be issued upon completion of the program.

Certificate of Completion from DOL or a DOL recognized State Apprenticeship Agency conveys occupational proficiency and is considered a nationally–recognized credential that counts positively towards the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Credential Attainment Rate.IRAPs result in at least one industry-recognized credential issued during participation in or upon program completion. The credential would also count positively towards the WIOA Credential Attainment Rate.