Once a novice has become an apprentice, they’ve cleared the biggest hurdle. Apprentices have their own problems, but (except in really bad cases) they have a better time of it than Orphans do.
Apprentice life varies so much that it’s hard to generalise about it. Being a mage’s apprentice can mean anything from staying with them in an extradimensional shadow realm accompanied by other apprentices and by magical creatures, to getting an hour of extra lessons after school a few times a week while you go on living in your parents’ house.
The one constant is teaching. Apprentices receive tuition directly from their master, and also from other mages to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how well-connected their master is. As a general rule Light apprentices tend to enjoy the widest variety of teachers, due to the Light apprentice program and its offshoots. A minority of the younger Light and independent apprentices attend one of the small number of all-magical schools, prior to turning 18. (No, none of the schools are called Hogwarts.)
Once apprentices reach adulthood, the main educational institution available in Britain is the Light apprentice program. The program is similar to a university, where apprentices sign up for various classes taught by a Light or independent mage. Class sizes are small, usually under 10 and almost never more than 20, and vary greatly depending on the teacher. Potential subjects include focus use, magesight, mage history, gating, and duelling, as well as more specialised seminars aimed at mages of a particular type. At the time of writing, there are two such programs operating within the British Isles: the primary program based in London, and a secondary, smaller program which operates out of Edinburgh.
Getting into the Light apprentice program can be tricky. Although technically any apprentice has the right to apply, an unknown applicant is likely to receive either a form-letter rejection or no reply at all – whether an apprentice is accepted mostly comes down to how well-connected their master is with the Council. Light mages and independents with good contacts can usually secure a place for their apprentices without much trouble, but other mages have to work for it, and doing so may require either a trade of favours, or for the apprentice to pass a formal assessment.
Dark apprentices in the Light apprentice program are extremely rare. This is partly due to prejudice on the part of the Council, and partly because Dark mages tend to look down on any teaching the Light faction could offer.
Assuming nothing goes wrong, an apprentice will stay with their master until they graduate to the rank of journeyman. This can be done in several ways.
If the apprentice in question is a member of the Light apprentice program, then the most common way for them to be recognised as a mage is to complete their journeyman tests. These are Council-sponsored and Council-organised exams intended to test an apprentice’s mental and magical maturity. Any apprentice of 18 years of age has the legal right to take their journeyman tests, but nowadays most apprentices don’t take them until their early twenties. The tests have long waiting lists, and have an unfortunate tendency to get mired in politics: whether an apprentice passes or fails can have more to do with how influential their master is than how skilled they are.
If an apprentice passes the tests, they are officially a mage. They’ll take on their mage name, and gain all the associated rights and responsibilities under the Concord and Council law. Once this has been done, their master has no further legal authority over them, and is no longer responsible for their actions.