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Apprenticeship vs. Internship: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 11, 2023
An apprenticeship is a structured, long-term training program that leads to a skilled trade profession, while an internship is a short-term work experience in a professional field for learning purposes.

Key Differences

An apprenticeship typically involves learning a skilled trade under the guidance of an experienced mentor. The focus of apprenticeship is hands-on training, ensuring individuals acquire specialized skills to master a particular trade. Often, apprentices are paid for their work and are expected to become proficient in their trade by the end of the program.
Internship, on the other hand, provides individuals with an opportunity to gain experience in a professional field. Interns may work for a company for a few weeks to several months, getting a taste of the industry and its operations. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and they are often taken by students or recent graduates to enhance their resumes and gather real-world experience.
While apprenticeship leads directly to a specific job in the skilled trades, an internship doesn't guarantee a job but provides exposure to a career path. Apprenticeships are more structured, with a clear focus on skill acquisition and mastery, whereas internships allow individuals to explore and understand the nuances of a profession.
In essence, apprenticeship gears an individual towards a specific profession by equipping them with the necessary skills. In contrast, an internship offers a glimpse into a field, allowing one to understand its intricacies and determine if it aligns with their career aspirations.

Comparison Chart


Longer-term, often years
Short-term, weeks to months


Skill acquisition for a trade
Experience & exposure in a professional field


Typically paid
Can be paid or unpaid


Mastery in a specific trade
Gaining a taste of a profession


Highly structured with mentor guidance
More flexible, varies by company

Apprenticeship and Internship Definitions


Apprentices often receive compensation.
His apprenticeship paid him while he learned the craft.


It offers exposure in a professional field.
Her marketing internship gave her valuable insights.


It involves hands-on learning under an expert.
His apprenticeship with the master electrician was rigorous.


Can be a stepping stone for future employment.
After his internship, the company offered him a permanent position.


Leads to a specific job in skilled trades.
Upon completing his apprenticeship, he was hired as a full-time machinist.


Interns explore career paths without long-term commitment.
The summer internship helped her decide on her major.


Apprenticeship is a long-term training in a specific trade.
She started her apprenticeship as a carpenter last year.


Internship provides short-term work experience.
He secured an internship with a leading tech company.


Focuses on skill mastery for a profession.
After her apprenticeship, she became a licensed plumber.


Often taken by students or recent graduates.
She's looking for internships to complement her academic studies.


One bound by legal agreement to work for another for a specific amount of time in return for instruction in a trade, art, or business.


A student or a recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training.


What's the primary goal of an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship aims to provide hands-on training for mastery in a specific trade.

Can internships lead to full-time job offers?

Yes, some companies offer full-time positions to outstanding interns after completion.

Who typically enrolls in apprenticeships?

Individuals seeking hands-on training in skilled trades like plumbing, carpentry, or electrical work.

Are internships only for students?

While many interns are students or recent grads, anyone seeking experience in a field can pursue an internship.

Does an apprenticeship guarantee a job?

While not a guarantee, apprenticeships often lead directly to jobs in the trade.

Can internships be remote?

Yes, especially in recent times, many companies offer remote internships.

Is an internship always paid?

No, internships can be either paid or unpaid, depending on the employer.

Is there a mentorship component in internships like in apprenticeships?

While apprenticeships have structured mentorship, internships might or might not offer mentorship, depending on the company.

How is the learning experience in an apprenticeship?

It's hands-on, with direct training under an experienced professional in the trade.

Do all interns work on real projects?

While many do, the nature of work varies by company and position.

Is age a barrier for apprenticeships?

While tailored for early-career individuals, age isn't typically a strict barrier for apprenticeships.

How long does an apprenticeship typically last?

Apprenticeships can last several years, depending on the trade and program.

Are apprenticeships only for manual trades?

While common in manual trades, apprenticeships exist in various fields, including advanced sectors like tech.

Can you switch fields after an internship?

Yes, internships offer a taste of a profession, allowing flexibility in career choices.

Do universities offer internships?

Many universities collaborate with companies to offer students internship opportunities.

Can you do multiple apprenticeships?

While possible, apprenticeships are time-intensive, so doing multiple might be challenging.

Are internships always in the corporate sector?

No, internships are available across sectors, including non-profits, government, and more.

How do apprenticeships affect career growth?

They provide specialized skills, often leading to stable, well-paying jobs in the respective trade.

How do internships benefit employers?

They get fresh perspectives, potential future employees, and can assess talent without long-term commitments.

Can apprenticeships be done part-time?

Some programs might offer part-time options, but many are full-time commitments.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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