Apprentices and trainees

Apprenticeships and traineeships are types of formal training arrangements that combine work with study for a qualification in a trade or occupation.


Apprenticeships and traineeships combine:

  • training with a registered training organisation, such as a TAFE or trade school
  • practical work experience
  • on the job training.

The type of qualification and the industry you work in will determine whether you need to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship.

For more information watch our apprenticeships and traineeships video.

Signing up

You can complete an apprenticeship or traineeship with a new employer, or you can talk to your current employer about starting one.

Apprenticeships and traineeships have to be registered with a state or territory training authority. You will have a training contract with your employer which outlines your rights and obligations.

There are timeframes for registering apprentices and trainees which vary from state to state. The period before the registration date can sometimes count towards the apprenticeship or traineeship.

For further information, refer to the relevant state and territory training authorities.

Types of employment

Apprenticeships and traineeships can be done on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on the circumstances. Read more about Part-time apprenticeships in our Library. Apprenticeships and traineeships can’t be done on a casual basis.

High school students can do a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. This combines work, training, and secondary education.

To find out what age you can legally start work, see Minimum working age.


An apprenticeship leads to a trade qualification, for example becoming a qualified carpenter or hairdresser.

It often takes 3 to 4 years to complete an apprenticeship full-time.

An employee who starts their apprenticeship when they are 21 years old or older is known as an adult apprentice.


Terry is 22 years old and wanting to work in the vehicle repair industry. Terry’s local car dealership have agreed to hire him as an apprentice so that he can become a trade qualified mechanic.

Terry will be covered by the Vehicle, Repair, Services and Retail Award. Since he’s over 21 when starting the apprenticeship, he’ll be paid as an adult apprentice.

Learn more about apprentice pay rates and other apprentice entitlements in your industry.


A traineeship leads to a certificate level qualification in a particular industry or occupation. For example, office administration or information technology.

It often takes 1 to 2 years to complete a traineeship full-time.

Learn more about trainee pay rates and other trainee entitlements in your industry.

Ending apprenticeships and traineeships

An apprentice or trainee is usually entitled to notice of termination, unless they're:

  • employed for a specified period, such as a training contract
  • dismissed for serious misconduct.

When you start your apprenticeship or traineeship you should talk to your employer about whether you’ll continue to work for them once your training is over. If you’re only going to be employed for the time of your apprenticeship or traineeship, then you won't get a notice of termination when it ends.

It can help to look at your employment contract to see if you’ve been employed for a set period. For more information, see Dismissal and notice and Who doesn’t get notice?.


Jasmine is working for a logistics company as a trainee while she completes a Certificate III in Business Administration.

Jasmine’s contract says she will be employed for 2 years while completing the traineeship.

At the end of Jasmine’s 2 year traineeship her employer ends her employment with no notice given.

As it was in Jasmine’s contract that she would be employed for a set period of time, her employer was not required to provide notice.

If you want to end your employment before finishing your qualification, you may also need to give your employer notice. For more information, see Resignation and notice.

You and your employer may have other obligations when ending your apprenticeship or traineeship. To find out, you should check your training contract or contact your training provider.

Training authorities in your state or territory

For more information on apprenticeships and traineeships you can visit Australian Apprenticeships or call them on 13 38 73.

The relevant state and territory training authorities can also provide assistance:

Related information