The main concern of the Cutler's Company during the 17th and 18th century were the enrolling of apprentices and the admitting of freemen. The company got most of its revenue from these activities, from fines and from the 2d per annum mark rents. A boy could become a master without having completed a formal apprenticeship, if he had been trained by a father who was a freeman of the Cutler's Company. Those boys who were not the sons of freeman had to serve an apprenticeship for at least 7 years, until they were 21 or more years old. In the 17c eight years was a common apprenticeship term in the local trades, but much longer periods are recorded. No less than 1,354 boys served at least 10 years and 3 boys each served sixteen years. These very long apprenticeships were mostly served in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In 1712 a minimum age of twelve was set for entry into an apprenticeship, except for the sons of freeman. However 10 year apprenticeships were being entered as late as 1814.
Upon completing an apprenticeship, a man could take his freedom of the Company and set himself up as a master in his trade. However, many young men did not take their freedom, but remained journeymen, working at agreed rates of pay for other masters.