Apprenticeships and traineeships combine training with working in a real job, with a real boss, for a real wage. Apprentices and trainees work towards the completion of a nationally recognised qualification while learning valuable skills at work and under the guidance of a training organisation.

Becoming an apprentice or trainee could be the best thing you ever do. You'll be trained and mentored all the way. You'll earn a wage and work towards a qualification that could really take you places.

What is the difference between an apprentice and a trainee?

Apprentices are trained in a skilled trade (e.g. electrical, plumbing, cabinet-making, automotive) and, upon successful completion, become a qualified tradesperson. Apprenticeships generally take up to 4 years to complete.

Trainees are trained in vocational areas (e.g. business administration, information technology, tourism) and, upon successful completion, receive a qualification in their chosen vocational area. Traineeships generally take between 12 months and 3 years to complete.

Quick facts about apprenticeships and traineeships

  • Apprenticeships and traineeships combine work with structured training.
  • Apprenticeships and traineeships can be full-time, part-time, or school-based - where some training is undertaken while the apprentice or trainee is in high school. However, apprenticeships and traineeships cannot be undertaken if the employment is irregular, occasional or intermittent (e.g. casual).
  • Existing employees may undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship.
  • Apprenticeships and traineeships require employers to enter into a training contract with the apprentice or trainee, agreeing to work and train together for a length of time (length of the training contract).
  • Employers work with the training organisation and the apprentice or trainee to negotiate a training plan.

Employers of apprentices and trainees

Find further information specific to you and your role as an employer of apprentices and trainees on our Business Queensland website.

Types of apprenticeships and traineeships

We may cover the cost of your training with a training organisation. You must be under 25, and commence, or be undertaking, a priority apprenticeship or traineeship qualification from 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022.

Find out more information about free apprenticeships for under 25s.

Commencing an apprenticeship or traineeship is the same for all, no matter what age. If you're a bit older and looking to start an apprenticeship or traineeship, you may bring maturity, reliability, life experience and knowledge, not only to your employer but to other staff.

  • Your existing skills and experience (gained from education, training, work and life experience) may provide you with credit and may reduce your training time. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the formal recognition of these skills and can be discussed with the training organisation when negotiating the training plan.
  • As a mature age apprentice or trainee, you may earn different wages compared to younger apprentices and trainees. Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 to discuss wages.
  • Employers of mature age apprentices and trainees may attract specific incentives through the Australian Government. Contact the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network on 1800 020 108.
  • As a school-based apprentice or trainee, you will undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship as part of your high school studies (generally in years 10, 11 and 12). This training may contribute towards your Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) and/or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). Read more on the QCE system.
  • Your employment and/or training arrangements must impact on your school timetable for the program to be considered school-based.
  • The nominal term of a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship is generally double that of the full-time apprenticeship or traineeship.

Read more about school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.

  • Full-time apprentices and trainees work and train an average of 38 hours per week and have ongoing employment
  • Part-time apprentices and trainees are rostered to work on a regular basis, working and training no less than 15 hours per week, averaged over a 4-week cycle.
  • Existing workers may be employed as an apprentice or trainee in a full-time or part-time capacity.
  • The nominal term of a part-time apprenticeship or traineeship is generally double that of the full-time apprenticeship or traineeship.

Related information

Last updated 5 January 2022

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