Top Ten Unusual Apprenticeships

2012-02-07 12:01 PMComment

Apprenticeships have been around since the dawn of civilisation. Four thousand years ago, artisans were required by law to pass on their craft to youngsters in ancient Babylonia. Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome all had formal trainees. Apprenticeships are still alive and kicking in the UK today, and, to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we’ve searched high and low for our top ten most unusual apprenticeships in the country…

Get your teeth into this!


10. Sandwich Artist

A canvas of two slices of white bread, artfully buttered, layer on the ham, pickles and lettuce with just a dab of mustard – by god, it’s a masterpiece! A pickled Picasso, a hammy Hockney, a leafy Lichtenstein!


Ok, really the sandwich artist apprenticeship was dreamt up by Subway. It’s those guys behind the counter who put together your sandwich. Bit of a let-down? We agree.

9. Tattooist Apprenticeship

For artistic types looking for something a little more permanent (pun intended), a tattooist apprenticeship might be just the ticket. If the sight of a needle doesn’t make your stomach turn, this is one pretty cool gig.


Mind you, apprentice tattooists have to work hard before they’re let loose on real human skin, so it’ll be a while before you’re unleashed with the needle and ink. No-one wants to be tattooed by a rookie.

8. Apprentice Diamond-setters

If you’re a bit of a magpie for anything that glitters, then you’ll be jealous of this apprenticeship. Apprentice diamond-setters fix precious stones into mounts on jewellery pieces. It’s fiddly work and it isn’t exactly dazzlingly glamorous when you start out, but it can lead to more exciting work.


Laurence Graff, ‘the King of Diamonds’, left school at 13 and got an apprenticeship at a jewellery shop. He’s now worth a glittering £2 billion. Put that in your diamond encrusted pipe and smoke it.

7. Trainee Funeral Director

If there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes, then you’re pretty well placed as a trainee funeral director. True, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can lead to a pretty solid career.


For starters, it probably won’t involve trussing up dead bodies (leave that to the embalmer), more likely you’ll be learning to direct hearses, liaise with bereaved families and help plan funeral services. Consequently, you’ll need excellent communication and organisational skills, not just the ability to look mournful next to a coffin.

6. Apprentice Chocolatier

The title’s enough to get most of us drooling. Jo Brand once said, “Anything is good if it's made of chocolate”, and whilst this apprenticeship isn’t made out of chocolate (mmm… chocolate covered apprenticeships), it involves making, crafting and packaging chocolaty delights.


That’s right, there’ll be no dunking heads in vats of chocolate à la Augustus Gloop; instead, apprentice chocolatiers will learn the magical art of chocolate tempering.

5. Blacksmithing Apprenticeship

The blacksmithing apprenticeship certainly seems suitably Dickensian! We’re imagining roaring soot-blackened furnaces, sweaty pecs, the clang of metal on metal. Oo-er it’s sounding a bit like a Rihanna video.


Step into the 21st century and the humble blacksmith has been reinvented. Enter a modern forge and you’ll find computers and modern technology with a few traditional methods and tools thrown in the mix. Blacksmiths don’t just hammer the shoes on horses, but craft all sorts of metal gates, staircases and railings.

4. Equine Dentist Apprenticeship

Equine dentist apprentices wield a bit more than just a toothbrush. If the idea of checking out horsey gnashers for a living fills you with delight, then this is the apprenticeship for you.


It usually involves training with qualified equine dental technicians who deal with plucking out horses’ milk teeth, ramped molars, shear mouth, wave mouth and so on. Believe us, horses have plenty of teething problems. They even have a set of pearly whites called wolf teeth.

3. Apprentice Falconer

Kark! Falconers are the guys with the falcons perched on their hands. Traditionally, falconers were trained for hunting, nowadays most falconers give falconry displays to the great British public.


Apprentice falconers learn how to train falcons, how to handle them and how to use the correct equipment, such as a hood (which looks a bit like two mini sewn-together bra cups).

2. Glass-blowing Apprenticeship

This is about as niche an apprentice as you can get; you won’t find many glass-blowing apprenticeships in the UK. No, it doesn’t involve puffing away uselessly at bits of glass; a glass-blowing apprentice learns how to design and shape glass into various shapes and designs. It’s certainly not a job for wheezy folk. 

1. Ghost Hunter Apprentice

In June this year, Gloucester’s resident ghost hunter was on the lookout for an apprentice. Think Most Haunted, think Casper the Friendly Ghost, think scaring the heebie jeebies out of tourists on ghost walks.


A ghost hunter apprentice will learn about the spookiest spots in the city and how to weave ghostly tales. So you probably won’t be hobnobbing with creepy spirits, or channelling Derek Acorah. Who ya gonna call? Apprentice Ghost Hunter! Hmm… doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. 

Image courtesy of Destiny Dodge


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