In 2001, the Institute of Education (now the UCL Institute of Education (UCL IOE)) became one of only three internationally accredited centres for the training of Reading Recovery trainers. To achieve accreditation, the training programme was required by the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization to be linked to the IOE doctor of education (EdD). Specifically, apprentice trainers were required to complete a minimum of Year 2 of the EdD programme (the Institution-Focused Study) successfully, as a gateway to achieving their professional qualification. The IOE EdD allowed for a unique apprenticeship model that combined academic study and research at doctoral level together with practical experiences. This paper presents a case study of the apprenticeship model as viewed by professionals who have undergone the experience. Findings suggest similarities to previous reports on professional doctorates, but also suggest a bridge and transition from apprentice to an apprentice who is also a mentor. A range of tensions are also suggested, some of which have been described by previous authors, but also others that have not previously been reported. Apprentice trainers reported feeling like 'weird fish' in that although their apprenticeship model was part of the EdD, it did not 'fit' with experiences the rest of their cohorts received. Nevertheless, there was a sense of preparedness for participants' new, complex professional roles. Implications of findings for linking the EdD to specific professional roles are also discussed.