How to become an Apprentice

To become an apprentice you must be at least 16-years-old and meet the following requirements: 

Grade D in five subjects in Department of Education & Science, Junior Certificate Examination or an approved equivalent, 


The successful completion of an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course


Be over 18 years of age, have at least three years work experience approved by ETB. 

You must have employment as an apprentice in your choice of occupation. Your employer must be approved by ETB and must register you as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment. 

Before you start

Before beginning an apprenticeship we recommended you fully understand what is involved in the craft you are thinking about studying. We encourage you to go and have a look at the type of work being done in your intended apprenticeship. Ask employers, qualified craftspeople or apprentices for advice about that craft and career you are thinking about entering. 

Once you have identified the craft of your choice, the first step is to find a job in that craft as an apprentice with an approved employer. Possible options are: 

  • Relative, neighbour or friend who works in the trade
  • Local or regionally-based companies operating in the trade
  • Register with your local Employment Office indicating your interest in becoming an apprentice. Local Employment Office staff try to match job vacancies with registered individuals where possible.

After you find a job within the craft of your choice, with a qualified employer, you can begin your apprenticeship by registering as an apprentice with ETB within the first-two weeks of employment. 

Assessment during an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is made up of a combination of learning in the classroom and on-the-job training. You will be is assessed in both training phases. During on-the-job training your competency is assessed by the employer to pre-specified standards. During off-the-job training you are required to complete modules that incorporate course work, standardised practical assessments and theoretical assessments. 

As an apprentice you are expected to learn all aspects of your chosen craft and complete all phases of training and assessments. 

Under the statutory rules, an apprenticeship will be automatically terminated if you, as an apprentice fail, after three attempts to reach the required specified standard, in any of the off-the-job modular assessments. However, ETB provides a mechanism for both the apprentices and employers to appeal such a termination. In cases where appeals are successful the apprentice is given the opportunity of a fourth and final attempt.

Working as an apprentice

Like other employees, you must work for your employer with care and skill ad must follow the employer’s instructions, provided they are reasonable and lawful. You must be diligent and honest and must not wilfully disrupt the employer’s business nor disclose any confidential information. You have a duty to take care of your own health and safety and that of other people in the workplace who might be affected by your acts or omissions.