A mechanical apprentice is essentially a student who is learning a particular trade while working full- or part-time. He or she can earn money while learning the trade, usually under the tutelage of a master mechanic. Apprenticeships are available in a wide variety of industries, from metal machining to car manufacturing, and much more. When the mechanical apprentice starts his work, he or she will be responsible for very basic tasks that pertain to the normal functioning of the industry. All of the tasks the apprentice will perform will be monitored by the master mechanic.
In the past, the mechanical apprentice did not necessarily need to finish high school in order to qualify for a position. While this is still true in some fields, many employers now require that a mechanical apprentice hold at least a high school diploma, if not a post-secondary certificate. It may be possible to work on a diploma or a certificate as the apprentice works with the master mechanic, but earning such credentials ahead of time makes a job candidate more attractive to potential employers.
Basic cleaning duties are likely to be assigned to the mechanical apprentice. These duties require no real skill other than safety training, but assigning such tasks allows the master mechanic the opportunity to gauge the apprentice's work ethic and enthusiasm for the job. As the mechanical apprentice progresses in his or her training, he or she will begin to observe the master mechanic as he works and even participate in some of the processes. All work done by the apprentice must be completed under the direct supervision and guidance of the master mechanic, who is responsible for the safety of himself and the apprentice at all times.
The duration of an apprenticeship can vary by employer or industry, but a mechanical apprentice can expect to spend anywhere from one to five years in this position. He or she will get paid a salary that is based off a percentage of the master mechanic's salary, and the apprentice may or may not receive health and retirement benefits. Once the apprentice completes his or her training, benefits and a higher salary may be offered. During the apprenticeship period, it will be important for the apprentice to earn any professional certificates or licenses required by law in a particular country or region. These licenses and certificates usually require periodic renewal as the mechanic progresses in his or her career.