Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative


The Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative is a grant-funded program that supports the development and implementation of new and innovative apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship models. These programs support the local workforce and provide educational opportunities to current and future Columbia College students.

Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship

Interested in a career in firefighting? The Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship is designed to provide an introduction to careers in fire science through hands-on experiences, workshops, field trips, and more. Pre-apprenticeship programs are differentiated from Registered Apprenticeship programs in that they provide a broad-based training program in order to prepare participants to apply for admittance to registered apprenticeship programs. Participants in the Pre-Apprenticeship will be well-prepared to apply to the Columbia College Fire Academy, one of the state's top accredited fire academies. After completing the academy, they will have the opportunity to apply to Cal-JAC, the state's only registered apprenticeship in firefighting. The Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship is open to everyone ages 14 and up.

Benefits of Participation

  • Free exploration of careers in fire science through workshops and station tours
  • Hands-on experiences with firefighting tools and equipment through classes such as "Basic Power Saw Safety", "Introduction to Rescue Operations", and "Engine Operations"
  • Overview of physical fitness requirements and opportunities to take a practice CPAT 
  • Introduction to the behind-the-scenes world of firefighting: how to apply for and land an apprenticeship, internship, or full-time employment

How to Apply

  • Fill out the application, print, sign, and send it to: or 11600 Columbia College Dr., Sonora, CA 95370
  • Call 209-588-5269 for questions!

Apprenticeship Programs

Earn an industry-recognized training certifications and go on to earn an Associate Degree while getting paid to complete on-the-job training. Students have the opportunity to complete coursework at Columbia College while working as paid apprentices at one of our approved apprenticeship employers, resulting in a Certified Apprentice certification through the California Department of Apprenticeship Standards as well as Certificates of Achievement and/or Skills Attainment Certificates through Columbia College. Students will be set up for career advancement and/or higher education at Columbia College and beyond.

Benefits of Participation

  • Hands-on work experience while attending college
  • Paid on-the-job training
  • Tuition and fees balance paid after financial aid is applied
  • Textbooks provided for apprenticeship-specific courses
  • Program staff available for academic support

How to Apply

Child Development

Child Development apprentices work at one of our employer partners: ATCAA Head Start, Columbia College Child Care Center, Senior Youth Partnership, or The Resource Connection Early Childhood Services. In addition to gaining valuable hands-on experience, apprentices complete coursework in Child Development at Columbia College that align with the California Child Development Permits. Permits are issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and are required to work in a state or federally funded child care center. For more information on how Columbia College courses align with the Child Development Permit options, visit this link or email In addition to industry-related coursework, apprentices have the opportunity to complete general education courses to fulfill the requirements for an Associate of Science-Transfer degree in Early Childhood Education.

Hospitality Management

At this time, all apprentice positions in Hospitality Management have been filled.

Hospitality apprentices are hired by one of our employer partners, Black Oak Casino ResortEvergreen Lodge, or Rush Creek Lodge. Students have the opportunity to complete a Certificate of Achievement and eventually an Associate of Science degree while working as paid apprentices. Apprentices rotate through different professional areas at the employer site over an 18-24 month period, to receive comprehensive training in a range of positions that could include a combination of front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, beverage management, retail, recreation and several aspects of kitchen and food service. While working, apprentices take industry-related coursework and complete additional general education courses and electives to fulfill requirements for an Associate of Science degree.


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