The philosophy behind our two-year Apprentice Program is simple: learning is best accomplished through direct experience. When an apprentice starts with only the lines of a boat on the lofting floor and carries it through the stages of framing, planking, decking, and finish work to a fully rigged boat ready to launch and sail, a great deal of learning happens in a relatively short period of time. 

The Apprentice Program offers students a unique chance to learn traditional wooden boatbuilding in a hands-on, real-world environment. From day one, students are in the Shop, tools in hand, working on projects. Instructors work alongside students on the Shop floor. The boatbuilding projects have real clients and real deadlines. There are no lectures or quizzes. There is no homework. There is only the boat and the crew to which each individual is accountable. 

This unique approach to education aims at bringing out the best in our students. They are asked to solve problems and develop unique solutions in real time. They work on a crew as team members, all the while developing their skills as craftspeople. 

Craftsmanship is not learned overnight, or even in a few months. Our two-year program allows students to develop solid skills and gives them time and opportunity to work with tools and materials. All apprentices become well versed in a broad range of skills as they progress through their apprenticeship. Graduates of the 2-year program can expect to have a solid working knowledge of wooden boat construction, the use of hand and power tools, and seamanship skills that will allow them to confidently walk aboard a boat and set sail. The program consists of a total of 3,600 clock hours.


The apprenticeship is a full-time, two-year comprehensive program designed to teach all aspects of traditional wooden boat construction. There are no classes, no grades, and no homework. Each apprentice has his or her own style of learning and pace at which to work, and we encourage apprentices to approach problems differently. As a result, no one is there to walk you through each step of building a boat. Instead, there is always an instructor on hand to answer questions and help solve problems about any step of the process or about woodworking in general. 

Boat projects are chosen on the basis of their educational benefit. Projects range from 8-foot tenders and 24-foot lobster boats up to 30-foot new-builds and restoration projects. The mix of projects changes continually, so no two apprentices have the same experience. Students learn not only from instructors but also from their interaction with fellow apprentices. Generally, experienced and incoming apprentices are paired together, creating an environment where builders are teaching their peers and working together to solve the logistical challenges presented by their project.Instructors work alongside, guiding them in all stages of construction from lofting to launching. 

Coming into a new shop can be confusing, even for an experienced woodworker. The orientation period is designed to familiarize new apprentices with the tools, safety guidelines, and operating systems specific to the Shop. The apprenticeship starts with a brief orientation period during which new apprentices are familiarized with the tools, safety guidelines, and operating systems specific to the Shop. After the orientation period, new apprentices begin a 12-foot, flat-bottomed Susan Skiff, which provides an excellent platform for learning the basics of boatbuilding. Although the duration of the Susan Skiff project may vary depending on your previous knowledge and skills, the boat takes approximately 3 months to build. This time is dedicated to learning the skills you will need throughout the rest of your apprenticeship. Some apprentices may work together on one skiff if they begin their apprenticeships around the same time.

New boat projects can begin and end at any time of the year, depending on the contract and commission, or the availability of students to build the boat. Small-boat projects last for several months, while larger boats can take a year or more to complete. We make every effort to assign new apprentices to build a project from the beginning, but there may be times when they join a crew in the middle of a project or rotate off a crew before completion as commissions necessitate. Regardless, all apprentices have the opportunity to build at least one boat from start to finish during their time at the Shop. 

During their time at the Shop, apprentices can expect to build two to four boats, depending on the size and length of projects. Boats built are typically traditional plank on frame (carvel) or clinker (lapstrake). We rely on customers to commission boats, which means at any given time, there are a variety of projects being constructed side-by-side in the Shop, and opportunities to learn a great deal from other apprentice crews. New builds account for the majority of the work we do, but restorations are incorporated into the apprentice program as well. 


Part of what sets The Apprenticeshop apart from other boatbuilding schools is its greater emphasis on teaching seamanship. Our participants learn to sail and row the boats that they build. We view craftsmanship and seamanship as complementary values.

Once a week, apprentices and Shop staff take a break from boatbuilding to participate in seamanship activities. During the sailing season (May - October), apprentices spend supervised time out on the water, learning different sailing techniques under the guidance of our Seamanship Director. They also participate in at least two multi-day expeditions out on Penobscot Bay. If students are looking for more opportunities to develop their seamanship skills, local racing clubs are always looking for willing crew, and there is occasional work delivering vessels along the northeast coast.

During winter months, seamanship moves indoors. Winter seamanship sessions can cover a wide variety of topics, including knot-tying, sail theory, navigation, weather, and boat handling. Additionally, students tour midcoast boatyards, visit sailmakers, maritime museums, model ship makers, and traditional tool enthusiasts, as well as participate in workshops taught by local boat builders and craftspeople. 


Students begin their day at the Shop at 8 a.m., take a 30-minute lunch around noon, and are finished at 4 p.m. Each day begins with Morning Meeting, a time for us to come together as a community, make announcements, discuss Shop issues, and just check in. We begin with a daily weather forecast and tide report and conclude with an interesting reading, sometimes boat-related, sometimes not. Apprentices share the responsibility for leading Morning Meeting. The remainder of the day is devoted to working on boat projects. 

Fridays begin as a regular day. But we all break as a group around noon to eat lunch communally – apprentices and staff take turns cooking for each other. Lunch is followed by walk-around, an open forum where each crew shares what they have been working on during the week and what they have learned. Apprentices ask questions and discuss their projects in detail. After Walk-around, apprentices clean the shop and attend to their “beagleship” responsibilities, tasks related to maintaining the shop space. One Friday a month is dedicated to working solely on projects to improve the Shop.

Although regular shop hours allow a lot of building time, apprentices usually want or need to work extra hours in the evenings or on weekends. As launch dates approach, crews will work overtime to ensure that the boats are ready to go in the water. 

As a Shop, we observe the following holidays: President‘s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. The office and Shop are closed on these days and students are not required to attend. We also take two, three-week breaks each year - three weeks in the winter from late December to mid January, and three weeks in the summer from late June to mid July. Otherwise, apprentices are in the Shop building boats year-round. 


Tuition is $9000.00 for year one and $4500.00 for year two. For more information, contact our admissions director laura@apprenticeshop.org.

Proof of enrollment in the FACTS tuition payment plan, VA benefit compensation plan, or other loan program by the due date is acceptable.


The apprentice program is approved for VA educational assistance benefits by the Maine State Approving Agency for Veteran’s Education Programs, including GI Bill® and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. Consideration is given to those with prior credits or work experience.  For more information, please call us at 207-594-1800 or email Kevin Carney, Shop Director.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.


2-Year Boatbuilding participants are responsible for the following expenses in addition to tuition:

  • Personal tools and reference books
  • Food, housing*, transportation
  • Other living expenses
  • Cost of health insurance for the duration of the program.

* The Apprenticeshop is committed to helping find housing for all 2-year apprentices.


Berkshire Woodworkers Guild Scholarship

The Berkshire Woodworkers Guild is a not-for-profit association of professional and amateur woodworkers. They award $1,500 scholarships to people planning to pursue a career in woodworking or complimentary fields. Applicants must be 16-25 years old to be eligible. For more information, visit: https://www.berkshirewoodworkers.org/scholarship/

Allen Booth Craftsman Scholarship

At Allen Booth we love promoting quality craftsmanship in America. Enough with the cheap products made just to be replaced. So we celebrate producers of quality goods. We award an annual $500 scholarship for vocational education. While more students in university and infotech is a good thing, there is no reason to neglect votech in the process. Many others like Allen Booth want to make sure young people know all their options to make a well-informed decision about their future. Mastering a craft is an admirable practice with knowledge passed between individuals to successive generations. For more information, visit: www.allenbooth.com/pages/allen-booth-craftsman-scholarship

NMRA Scholarship for Students of Marine Trades

Since 2008, the National Marine Representatives Association (NMRA) has contributed to the future of the marine industry with scholarships to individuals pursuing education and a career in the maritime trades. For 2017, a $3,000 scholarship will be awarded to outstanding students. Request an application or information from NMRA at: info@nmraonline.org

mikeroweWORKS Foundation Work Ethic Scholarship

Calling all plumbers, carpenters, electricians, welders, auto-technicians, and anyone getting trained for skilled jobs that are in demand! For the fifth year in a row, the Work Ethic Scholarship Program will give away a modest pile of money to those who demonstrate strong work ethic and a thirst for skilled training. For more information, visit: http://profoundlydisconnected.com/scholarship/

Youth Maritime Training Association Scholarships

YMTA scholarships may be used by students pursuing maritime training and education in community colleges, technical and vocational programs, colleges, universities, maritime academies or other educational institutions. For more information, visit: www.ymta.net/ymta-scholarships/

Scholarship America

Too often, student scholarship support dries up after freshman year. Scholarship America’s Dream Award is a renewable scholarship fund for students in their sophomore year and beyond — with growing, renewable awards that help ensure talented students can afford to complete the degree programs they’ve started. For more information, visit: www.scholarshipamerica.org/dreamaward

AES Engineering Scholarship

AES Engineering is pleased to be able to continue offering scholarships to motivated students to help in the furthering of their education. Our belief is that achieving a high grade point average should not be the only criteria for determining who deserves to be helped. For that reason we are offering a scholarship that will be awarded on the basis of character, as determined by an evaluation of the essays that are submitted. Scholarships are intended for our future leaders across a wide spectrum of fields of study. For more information, visit: http://www.aesengineers.com/scholarships.php

OutdoorStack Scholarship

At OutdoorStack, we’re passionate about outdoor activities, and we want to help others who are passionate about outdoors. Outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, cycling, water sports, winter sports are all about people sharing common interests and are strongly important for building communities. To encourage students and families throughout America to spend more time outdoors, we have created the Outdoor Stack’s Annual Financial Aid Program for students enrolled in Full-Time, Part-Time or Online education courses. For more information, visit: https://outdoorstack.com/finaid/