Apprenticeship Programme - Software Engineer

Hi Everyone!

I’m a new member from Dublin, Ireland. I’m also 29 years old.
Currently finishing the projects on Responsive Web Design.
Got a few things on my mind that I’d like to share so apologies in advance for the wall of text :slight_smile:

At the moment I work as an IT Engineer: fixing/troubleshooting win10 devices, AV Conference Rooms, there’s a lot of work involved. After 2 years into it, I’ve already learned everything there is to know.
The client we work for is Microsoft, but I’m hired as a vendor. The pay is okay, but I’m not happy with the role. It’s no longer challenging and I’ve been thinking about career change.
Everybody in my team sort of leans towards hardware/server side and some even go to Sales, all just to get a full time position with Microsoft.

Now, I’ve been talking with some Software Engineers that actually work in Microsoft. I told them of my plans, where I learn etc… and they were all glad to hear it, but recommended Apprenticeship programme. You basically get the skills necessary to get your first job or if you’re lucky, employer could offer you a job.

There’s a company here in Ireland that does this and they offer 2 year Apprenticeships with a “random” company. It can be random or it can be MS, no way of knowing…
They have told to wait until they start taking more apprentices if I want to increase my chance of being drafted by MS.

This would require me to leave my job.
Apprenticeship pays less than a minimum wage. Pay difference is huge. I considered all of this and would gladly take the financial hit to better myself but I’m also worried in the sense that maybe it’s all hype. I would have enough to pay the rent and eat so I’m good with that :smiley:
I’d like to hear your thoughts whether 2 year apprenticeship is worth or should I stick with self-taught?
Does anyone have experience with apprenticeships, what’s it like?

Thanks in advance!

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Red flag here


Yeah, definite red flag. And it lasts for two years? I wouldn’t even consider it.

Is it legal to pay someone less than minimum wage? Does the word “minimum” mean something different than what I think it does?

I don’t know - considering that you are absolutely new to coding (you haven’t even hit the JS section yet), you could argue that a short, low paying apprenticeship would be better than nothing - getting paid to learn, etc. And it often takes people a few years anyway, as self-taught on the side. Maybe this would track faster. But two years?

But you already have a job in a semi-related field that pays well, my advice (considering how little I know about your situation) would be to pass and just keep learning on the side. Eventually you should be able to get some entry-level job that at least pays something livable, if not better.

But again, I don’t know the exact details about your situation or the job market in Eire so take this all with a grain of salt.


Current min. wage in Ireland is 1700€, this pays 1000€ for the first year I believe and goes up to 1300 afterward. Not appealing at all, that’s why I’m asking heh

Not sure whether legal falls within this category as you’re basically doing part time work and studying.
The company that does this is definitely legal and most of the candidates have had good results.

legal != ethical

I’m of the general opinion that if the company doesn’t pay much, that means they don’t find the work and/or you very valuable.


This sounds hinky. I don’t know what your situation is or anything about this program, but if it’s run by a for-profit company then my advice is to do your research assuming that it is a scam until proven otherwise.

Laws are moving very slowly (in most places) to adjust for “it’s not employment, it’s work-study” justifications for avoiding workers’ rights and protections. My policy is that if you are generating value for a company, then they should be paying you appropriately. That may not mean paying you very much, but the key word in “minimum wage” is minimum. If they consider you to be “part time” that means that you should only be scheduled for the appropriate amount of time.

I understand that some people are in a financial situation where they can sacrifice pay for experience, but for anyone in the position where they are willing and able to work for free I strongly encourage them to get that experience by volunteering for a nonprofit(s) or contributing an equivalent amount of time to open source projects that they care about, rather than being exploited by a corporation.

tldr: Proceed with extreme caution. Consider what they are getting from you vs what you are getting from them and if you can get the same value with less sacrifice.


Well, the average developer salary is 2.5 times the minimum wage in Ireland - I really don’t see why they wouldn’t pay minimum wage. I also wouldn’t expect this arrangement to last for two years.

True, you could instead pay for a boot camp - that would cost you money. But that would be for a few months with the understanding that you are ready for a better paying job.

The bottom line to me is that they are going to make money off your work - they should pay you for it. Even minimum wage would be questionable, especially for a two year arrangement.

As Jeremy says, it’s about value. And respect. I would want to pass on this.

Do you know developers in your area? What do they think?


I’ve only met 1 developer that went through the apprenticeship program.
He worked as a waiter so Apprenticeship helped him break into IT industry. He managed to get a junior dev. role with MS.

He was basically broke for those 2 years.

Thanks for all the feedback guys, appreciate it.
It made me think that it may not be the best path. Two years is a long time, I suppose I could learn more by myself and not struggle for 2 years.

As for the programme, here’s the link to their website: FIT


I would just like to add my experience of apprenticeship programs:

I have seen apprenticeships work excellently for just out of highschoolers, and career changers. Apprenticeships are not meant to be for people with a background in the industry, but for those wanting to break into an industry without attending a formal college/university.

Apprenticeships cost the companies running them (if run well) a lot of money, and, usually, the only benefit the company get is a well-trained, hopefully loyal, employee after the two years.

Apprentices are not paid to be employees, they are paid a (what I call) living allowance . It is expected a company lose money, whilst apprenticising people.

Now, I have never heard of an apprenticeship for software engineering; typically, only more hands-in work. So, I would imagine within a couple months the work done by a Software Engineering Apprentice could be profitable to the business, but, as I say, never heard.

Also want to clarify on an earlier statement: most people I know who have done apprenticeships have been enrolled into college by the institution, during the apprenticeship. So, it is not necessarily an either/or.

Anyway… all this just to say I have seen excellent results from apprenticeships, and am impressed by most companies who offer them, and expecting a jobs wage from one is unrealistic.

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That’s why I got interested. I’d like to break into the industry.
Not much info on the apprenticeship so wanted to know if it’s better than self-taught.

That depends on the person and their circumstances:

  • If you are self-driven, and know how to study, and can either work full-time/part-time whilst doing that (or have the funds to support yourself), then self-taught sounds like the place for you.
  • If you need guidance, cannot work much and study, and want to work for the company apprenticising you, then an apprenticeship sounds like what could benefit you the most.

From what I have seen, software-related careerers tend to be in the self-taught variety, because, as I say, a 2 year apprenticeship in software sounds odd (in my mind).

At the end of the day, there are always a bunch of experienced careerers in this community willing to help you learn.

Just assuming apprenticeships are essentially same in ROI as UK. If that’s the case (and I don’t see how it wouldn’t be) what OP describes is pretty normal (with a large caveat re. who apprenticeships are designed for). Apprenticeships always pay around that, it’s not a red flag. As @Sky020
says, apprenticeshipss are generally for people first entering the labour pool. In particular, very often they are coupled with [vocational] college. This is why you get two-year apprenticeships, why it’s not strange. You’re talking about 16, 17 year olds most of the time, there is zero expectation that an apprenticeship would ever pay anywhere close to dev wages. Less than minimum wage is normal: for one thing, the apprentice normally has to do work for college rather than company a significant % of the time.

The issue here is that yes, the apprenticeship will probably get you a job in the end. But it isn’t really aimed at your situation. I think the person you’ve been talking to is possibly giving you honest advice (yes, you’ll almost certainly get a software job at the end of it), it’s just not very good advice for you financially.

(sorry that this isn’t particularly helpful: again, if ROU is anything like the UK, then good options for retraining are basically non-existant if you don’t have a pile of cash, you’re often in your own)

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Similarly in the US, companies will offer internships or co-ops for students who are currently in school. These are often hourly positions and a student taking classes may end up only working part-time so their total pay can be less than someone working a minimum wage job full time. The per-hour pay rate shouldn’t be less than the per-hour minimum rate unless the program is offering something tangible in liu of pay (besides “experience”). For example, some progams include providing housing or instructional coursework.

Again, my suggestion when someone is considering a program is to think about how money and value are changing hands. If a company is making a profit based on your labor, you are an employee and if that company is finding ways to circumvent legal protections of employees then I would recommend looking into other options.

Financially it’s bad. If I was 17 year old, living with my parents I’d probably take it. I only considered it because few developers from Microsoft have recommended the course.

I’m not attached to the company.
I’d rather start somewhere small and work my way up. That was my original plan but apprenticeship did sound interesting.

Thanks everyone for your input, I really appreciate it :slight_smile:

Yep. We have an apprentice at work, my boss was an apprentice at his last job, and most of the medium/large software companies (and some of the smaller ones, like us) in the area have apprentices employed. It’s really good, but it’s not really feasible once you’re past the age when you can manage on that low a pay.

This may be the case for certain US states, but in ROI, there is no statutory requirement to pay the national minimum wage to apprentices. I assumed there’d be a national apprentice minimum wage as there is in the UK (which is about half the national minimum wage), but in fact not even that.

I understand that it may be legal, but I assert that it is bullshit.


Hmm, on that I’d strongly disagree. So, in UK, if you’re an apprentice, you get:

  • minimum 20% of all working hours (min 30hrs/wk, max 40hrs/wk) to be given over to training, can be at work or not (normally via college).
  • plus job must pay for any maths/English courses
  • full sick pay
  • full maternity/paternity pay and leave
  • full holiday pay (so minimum 20 days, but if company offers more as standard, has to match that)
  • exactly same employment rights and benefits

The apprenticeship itself is equivalent to qualification with levels directly matching standard UK qualifications. So, for example, my colleague is on a level 6 apprenticeship, which gives him a degree-level qualification on completion equivalent to a bachelors.

Compare two other commonly recommended routes:

  • do a degree: same qualification at the end, but debt of around 27k-ish for a 3 year course. Has huge advantages, not least because the qualification itself sells better than almost anything else out there, but not vocational for the most part. No direct payment for undertaking the study.
  • self teach: can do this alongside working, but completely self directed. No direct payment for undertaking the study.

Apprenticeship is obviously primarily training, not study, it is an alternative to college/university designed to put young people directly into skilled jobs, and it’s definitely not bullshit. Yes it pays much less, but that’s because the apprentice is being paid for doing a vocational training program.

I did not deny the existance of programs that provide benefit to students. I do urge extreme caution toward being exploited by for-profit companies.

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Most apprenticeships are now ran by agencies on a for-profit basis, plus there are significant tax benefits for companies taking apprentices on. Yes, some are unscrupulous, but the majority are genuinely there to just get apprentices working. I’m going from a UK perspective, there are very clear rules about how it works, and ROI is almost identical on that front

a student taking classes may end up only working part-time so their total pay can be less than someone working a minimum wage job full time

This can’t happen, because the classes have to occur during working hours: employer doesn’t have an option here

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Great. Super.

If any company in any country offers you work at extremely low pay, then you should do your due dilligence on whether you are getting real value out of the offer.

Common usages of the terms “work” and “hours” may vary by region.