Novice, novitiate, apprentice, probationer, postulant, neophyte are comparable when applied to one who is a beginner, especially in a trade, a profession, a career, or a sphere of life.
Novice and the less common novitiate may be applied to anyone who comes under this description, since inexperience is their chief distinguishing implication.
Novice is specifically applied to a new member of a religious order who is undergoing training before taking first and usually not the final vows.
Apprentice is applicable to a beginner who is serving under another as his master or teacher.
In such applications it emphasizes subjection to supervision and discipline rather than inexperience. It often denotes a young person who is starting his working career as a beginner at a skilled trade under an arrangement involving both work and on-the-job tuition and often a planned schedule of supplementary study or applies to an enlisted man in the United States Navy (usually called in full apprentice seaman ) who is receiving instruction in seamanship, gunnery, and the rudiments of a general education.
Probationer designates a beginner who is on trial for a period of time and must prove his aptitude for the work or life.
Postulant implies candidacy for admission (as into a religious order); it may also imply acceptance for a period of probation.
Neophyte usually suggests initiation, and is applicable to one who is learning the ways, methods, or principles of something (as an art, a science, a society, a club, or a religious faith) with which he is newly connected.
It often carries connotations of innocence and youthful eagerness derived from its association with a newly baptized person or convert to Christianity.