Apprentice Nation Apprentice Nation

Apprentice Nation

People who are learning a specialized skill often work for a few years as a paid apprentice, or an understudy to someone who has been in the business for many years and can pass along his or her knowledge and expertise. Many apprenticeships are very formalized, like those in the building and construction trades, while others may be somewhat less structured. There are reportedly some 850 federally recognized apprenticeable careers. Here are a few career-related apprenticeships you may never have even considered:

Fish Hatchery Worker—A fish hatchery worker raises and maintains fish and stocks designated lakes, ponds, streams and rivers throughout the state. New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife, which runs fish hatcheries in Pequest and Hackettstown, offers unpaid internships to high school and college students. Apprenticeships? Well, that may depend on how well you work with the fish. Go to http://www.jerseyintern.com/internship_detail.php?int_id=60&period_id=1&q= for more information.

Jewelry Crafter—Interested in making custom jewelry or props for movies? Jewelry crafters usually have formal training in metalsmithing, silversmithing or working with gold. Typically, a jewelry crafter begins his or her career working for someone who is already established in the craft-as an apprentice. Visit http://www.jobprofiles.org/artjeweler.htm to find out the skills required to be a jewelry crafter.

Glass Blower—Glass blowing is the art of carefully shaping glass objects through the use of intense heat, specialized tools and lots of skill. Most glass blowers work with apprentices who assist with equipment and learn on the job. Salem Community College in Southern New Jersey is home to the nation's only Scientific Glass Technology associate degree program as well as programs in glass art and industrial design. Read up on glassblowing at http://www.howitworks.net/how-glass-blowers-work-murano-style-glass-blowing.html.

Artificial Glass Eye Maker—OK, so this is one step beyond glass blowing, to the ancient art of painting glass eyes. If you never knew there was such a thing, just picture that deer head over your Uncle Charlie's stone fireplace-you know, the one with the eyes that always seem to be following you. Talk to your local taxidermist-the guy who stuffs wild animals-and he or she will tell you that the eyes make a mount. Who makes those eyes? Your local artificial glass eye maker. If this fascinating craft, which involves delicate hand-painting and kiln firing, interests you, then you may be in luck. Tohickon Glass Eyes, a small family-owned business in Erwinna, Pa., across the Delaware River from Frenchtown, is considered the country's gold standard in glass eyes. Its owners learned through apprenticeships, and so might you. Check the company out online at www.tohickonglasseyes.com.

Wine Maker —When people talk about agriculture for the 21st Century, they often mention wine making—right here in the Garden State. Did you know that New Jersey has more than 30 vineyards, growing grapes to produce everything from Chardonnay to Chianti? Businesses like the Four Sisters Winery at Matarazzo Farms in Belvidere have been passed down to a younger generation, with twentysomethings learning the wine-making skills of their parents. Research New Jersey's vineyards and potential opportunities for apprenticeships by visiting the Garden State Wine Growers Association at http://newjerseywines.com/.