What is an apprenticeship?

A Registered Apprenticeship is a formalized, structured training program. It combines on-the-job training (OJT) and related technical instruction in which you receive practical and technical training. Industry determines the essential skills, because apprenticeship is industry-driven career training. Each apprenticeship requires from 2,000 to 8,000 work hours to complete. The apprenticeship is broken down into skill areas with a set number of hours for each skill area. An apprenticeship also has structured formal training. Each year of apprenticeship (2,000 hours), requires 144 hours of apprenticeship-related training. Apprentices earn a living wage throughout the education process, with periodic raises to reflect increased experience and commitment. Once the apprenticeship is completed they will possess a trade certification that is recognized internationally.
  • You can use your GI Bill® for an apprenticeship! It works differently than for a traditional four year degree. You will be allocated the monthly housing allowance for an E-5 with dependents during the first 6 months of your program, or the first 1000 hours of on the job training (OJT) plus the stipend. After you complete the first six months, your GI Bill® amount will decrease to 80% of the total you were allocated. The GI Bill® continues to decrease every 6 months or 1000 hours until you are at 20%. You will be allocated 20% for the remainder of your program or until your benefits run out. This is because apprentices receive an increase in pay from the apprenticeship program at the same time. As your pay increases your GI Bill® decrease. The GI Bill® amount is based on the zip code of the training location for your program. You can find out more with the GI Bill® comparison tool at https://www.vets.gov/gi-bill-comparison-tool/ or at the GI Bill DOL website https://www.vets.gov/education/gi-bill/.
  • Through the Apprenticeship Agreement, an apprentice, as an employee, receives supervised, structured on-the-job training combined with related technical instruction. The instruction, usually classroom study, in a specific occupation can be held at public secondary or post-secondary schools, employer or union-sponsored schools or community colleges.
  • Some registered apprenticeship programs also have dual accreditation through post-secondary institutions which apply credit for apprenticeship completion towards an Associate Degree.
  • A progressively increasing schedule of wages is based on the journeyworker’s hourly wage of the apprentice’s occupation. These increases occur with satisfactory progress in both related instruction and on-the-job training until wages reach 85 to 90 percent of the rate paid the journeyworker in the occupation.
  • Upon completing a one to five year (2,000 hours to 10,000 hours) apprenticeship, the worker receives an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate and is recognized as a qualified journeyworker nationwide. This Certificate is one of the oldest, most basic, and most highly portable industry credentials in use today. The Certificate is issued by a federally approved State Apprenticeship Council or Agency or, in those States not having such an agency, by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
  • Registered apprentices/trainees are covered by state industrial insurance while in attendance at related instruction classes.
  • Eligible veterans receive VA educational benefits while participating in an approved program.
  • Registration is a requirement to work as an apprentice/trainee on both state and federal public works’ projects.
  • Registered apprentices/trainees have access to an appeal process in the event a serious problem arises during the course of training. That appeal process extends all the way up to the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.
  • Individuals completing formal training through registration with this office will receive validated credentials as fully qualified journey level workers.
  • Good work ethic – Shows up every day, on time, for work and school. Always has back-up day care and transportation plans. Works hard at a steady pace.
  • Positive attitude
    1. Listens and learns on the job and in school.
    2. Works with others as a team to build the project.
    3. Follows directions of crew leaders regardless of the manner in which they are given. (Directions are often given quickly and may sound angry because the immediacy of the job situation demands it. This is not the time for sensitive feelings.)
  • Aptitude
    1. Aptitude for the trade/occupation and some work history (paid or unpaid).
    2. Has some experience doing construction, production, or other comparable work or transferable skills.
    3. Has proven potential to be good worker. Any continuous employment or training with a good attendance record can indicate this, even if not related to the trade/occupation.
  • Physical condition – Some apprenticeships require both physical strength and endurance. In those that do, able to work in a physically demanding environment for extended periods of time in all weather conditions. Can work at heights and in enclosed areas. Is very safety conscious in all work.
  • Drug free – Drug free and can pass drug/alcohol tests that are given randomly to workers.
  • Driver’s license – Valid Washington State driver’s license and good driving record. Has reliable transportation, preferably owns a car. Also is willing to drive to where the work is, which may be some distance and may not be on a bus line.
  • Education – Education required of the apprenticeship – usually GED or high school diploma.
  • Math – For construction trades, good basic math skills as some trades require geometry or algebra. Some apprenticeships require accurate reading of a tape measure.
  • Enjoys the Work – Chooses a trade that he/she really enjoys and wants to learn. You need to like the work in order to stay to make it into a career.
  • Understands the System – It can be a complicated process to become an apprentice. You may have to wait to be interviewed since apprenticeship programs only accept the number of apprentices they can keep working steadily. This is very different from just applying for a job. You need to be both patient and persistent. If a person truly values and understands the system, they won’t give up. You may need a survival job until the apprenticeship starts.
  • Makes a Commitment – Apprenticeship program sponsors invest time and money training apprentices. They want apprentices who will complete their program and stay employed within the industry that has invested time and money into an individual’s career training.
  • Depends. Unfortunately for military service members, many of the trainings and credentials that are received in the military do not always transfer to state or federal credentialing. There are some programs and websites you can research to find out more.
  • One option is the credentialing opportunities on-line system. It helps service members find information on certifications and licenses related to their military specialties. COOL explains how service members can meet civilian certification and license requirements and provides links to numerous resources to help get them started.
    1. Army COOL – https://www.cool.army.mil/
    2. Navy COOL – https://www.cool.navy.mil/
    3. Air Force COOL – https://www.cool.airforce.mil/
    4. Marine – COOL – https://www.cool.navy.mil/usmc/
  • The Navy also has a program called USMAP, https://usmap.netc.navy.mil/usmapss/static/index.htm or https://usmap.cnet.navy.mil/usmapss/static/usmap.jsp. The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) is a formal military training program executed by the Center for Personal and Professional Development that provides active duty Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are on active duty. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides the nationally recognized “Certificate of Completion” upon program completion. USMAP allows active duty members to complete a DOL apprenticeship program while serving their country.
  • If you have several years’ experience in a particular, field most apprenticeship coordinators and training directors will work with you to give you credit towards their program. This will vary depending on the program and local as there is no federal dictation on this topic. Make sure you let the program you are interested in know about your experience and background.
  • Most apprenticeships are set up where you join the training program first and then the training program will help place you into a job. Some apprenticeships are the other way around. You are responsible to find a job and then you will be placed into an apprenticeship. An example of this is the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) or the Stationary Engineers. Make sure you understand how your apprenticeship program works.


  • Related Supplemental Instruction, or RSI, refers to the classroom instruction portion of your apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is a combination of instructional learning in a classroom environment and on the job training. Every state approved apprenticeship has to have at a minimum of 144 hours of classroom training per year. Different programs implement this different ways for their program. Some programs have night courses 2-3 times during the week in order to not interfere with your OJT. Other programs take two weeks prior to the start of the OJT portion and focus solely on classroom training.
  • Most apprentices will receive health care benefits through the contractor or organization that employs them. Most unions will provide up to 3 months of health care benefits while you are in between employers. Unions are able to do this because of the fees union employees provide.
There are four main entry ways for a veteran to get into an apprenticeship

  • Pre-Apprenticeship – Pre-Apprenticeships are typically 12-16 week programs which provide the basics of a variety of different apprenticeship programs. A pre-apprenticeship is a preparatory program that grooms individuals who want to begin an apprenticeship for certain industries and trades. Once you complete a pre-apprenticeship you move into an apprenticeship program. These programs are good for people who are interested in pursuing a trade but may not know which one is the best fit. A few pre-apprenticeship programs here in WA include CSP, ANEW, PACT, PACE, STP, and manufacturing academy.
  • Helmet2Hardhats – Helmets to Hardhats is a national program that connects Transitioning Service Members, National Guard, Reservists, and retired active-duty military service members into construction apprenticeships. By signing up for this program you can receive veteran preference or direct entry into a construction apprenticeship. Most career opportunities offered by the program are connected to federally-approved apprenticeship training programs. Training is provided by the trade organizations at no cost to the veteran.  No prior experience is needed. All participating trade organizations conduct three to five year earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship training programs that teach service members everything they need to know to become a construction industry professional with a specialization in a particular craft.
  • Apply directly – You can also contact a program directly and fill out an application. Most programs accept applications on a regular basis while others take applicants during certain seasons. To find out for certain whether or not a program is accepting applications, you need to contact them directly. To find Active Apprenticeship Programs you can also go to the Labor and Industry website at
  • Certificates – If you would like to get more experience prior to joining an apprenticeship or have more understanding of certain trades, many technical colleges provide opportunities to obtain certificates in different trade specialties. Certificates and experience will give you more points on the application processes and make you more competitive for apprenticeships that do not already provide direct entry or veteran preference.
• The majority of apprenticeships, around 80%, are in the construction trades to include but not limited to:

o Asbestos Workers
o Boilermakers
o Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers
o Cement Masons
o Elevator Constructors
o Glaziers
o International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
o Ironworkers
o International Union of Painters & Allied Trades
o Laborers
o LADS – Lathing, Acoustical, Drywall & Thermal Insulation
o Operating Engineers
o Plasterers
o Plumbers & Pipefitters
o Roofers
o Sheet Metal Workers
o Sprinkler Fitters
o Teamsters (Drivers)

• Other industries include

o Aerospace Manufacturing – Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC)
o IT – Apprenti
o Safety – Certified Safety specialist
o Medical – Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers (WACMHC)

– Medical Assistant – Certified (MA-C) with PCMH specialty
– Dental Assistant

• Other industries starting to look into apprenticeship as a training model include but are not limited to:

o Human resources
o Healthcare
o Clean energy
o Banking
o Insurance
o And others

  • Most apprenticeship pay works the same way. You start off at a certain percentage of a journeyworkers pay, typically 50%-70%, and every 1000 hours, or 6 months, you get an increase in your wages, typically 5%-10%. You will continue to get an increase until the completion of your program, at which time you will be at a journeyworkers pay. Most apprenticeships are 2-5 years long and you can continue to increase your pay throughout your career.
  • Yes! Many of the technical colleges give college credit for apprenticeship programs. These college credits can easily lead to an associate’s degree which can give you a leg up in attending a four year college if you choose to do so later in your career. Ask the program if they are able to provide you college credit.
  • Yes! Although this is apprenticeship dependent. With today’s technology and advancements in materials and manufacturing, organizations have drastically changed their requirements for physical labor. For example, aerospace manufacturing has several companies who specifically hire individuals with disabilities and utilize apprentices through AJAC. Many apprenticeships take individuals with disabilities so don’t let that deter you from pursuing an apprenticeship.
  • Yes! The military sees the value in supporting service members in obtaining valuable skillsets that directly translate into civilian careers.
    • The Navy has created an apprenticeship program you can complete while serving called USMAP. USMAP allows active duty members to complete a DOL apprenticeship program while serving their country.
    • The Army has created programs called Career Skills Programs (CSPs) based on Army Regulation AR 600-81, Chapter 8. This program is designed to provide credentialing, training, and apprenticeships to active duty service members who will soon be leaving the service with the intent that the training results in job offers. Many of these programs are pre-apprenticeship programs from the construction trades. The program is open to all service members, but Soldiers have priority. Service members can access them within their 180 window prior to their ETS.
  • It depends. Most construction apprenticeships will take veterans discharged under any status. Some will take any discharge status but will vary based on the reason for discharge. Many times it is not the apprenticeship program that will limit service members based on discharge but the type of discharge may limit you on the project you can work on. Do not let your discharge status stop you from pursuing an apprenticeship as many of them will support you through the program as long as you are dedicated and hard working.

WorkSource is a statewide partnership of state, local and nonprofit agencies that provides an array of employment and training services to job seekers and employers in Washington.

  1. WorkSource has designated positions who work solely with veterans and their families to obtain employment called Local Veteran Employee Representatives, LVER. They’re veterans too and have immediate access to highly qualified veterans seeking employment. Their goal is to create partnerships between public and private organizations that help veterans successfully transition into civilian employment in Washington.
  2. Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, DVOP, specialists are veterans themselves and are uniquely equipped to provide intensive services to veterans with special employment and training needs. Staff target services to “Special Disabled” veterans (veterans with a 30 percent rated disability by the Veterans Administration), disabled veterans, economically or educationally disadvantaged veterans, and veterans with other barriers to employment, especially homeless veterans. As an integral program partner with the state’s workforce development system, DVOPs provide a full range of employment and training services to veterans with barriers to employment.
  3. To find out more and find your local DVOP/LVER go to https://www.worksourcewa.com/.


Apprenticeship & Non-traditional Employment for Women, ANEW, provides training, employment navigation and supportive services based on financial qualifications and restrictions of grant resource. ANEW provides pre-apprenticeship training in multiple trades and is networked into multiple apprenticeship programs where, if you are a graduate of their program, they can help place you directly into an apprenticeship. ANEW is also a service support program that can help any individual going through any apprenticeship program with services to include help with food, tools, and any number of barriers inhibiting people from work. They are networked into multiple funding sources and can help people with a variety of needs. Check out their website at http://anewaop.org/ or visit them at 550 SW 7th St. Suite B305, Renton, WA 98057.


Camo2Commerce, C2C, provides opportunities for career development and jobs to service members transitioning out of JBLM into civilian life to include the CSP programs. They offer a number of customized services to transitioning service members, including one-on-one career coaching, job placement services, short-term training, hiring fairs and more. Camo2Commerce works to fully integrate the public workforce system into the transition services provided on military installations. Camo2Commerce is a project of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and Workforce Central. C2C also has financial support for help transitioning service members overcome barriers to employment to include support such as gas money, tools, etc. Check out their website at http://camo2commerce.com/.

Apprenticeship Opportunities Project (AOP)

AOP helps people prepare for, apply to and complete construction apprenticeship. AOP services include resume building, interview skills, application completion, counseling, mentorship and financial support. Financial support is for items such as gas, tuition, work clothes, tools, initiation fees and union dues. Pre-apprentices and apprentices are eligible if they are:

  • A King County resident
  • Low-income
  • Drug free
  • Able to obtain a Washington state driver’s license

To Apply Attend an informational session, schedule an intake meeting, and complete an application and submit required documents. Contact them at Vernel Nicholas at 206-381-1384 or info@anewaop.org. Location is 550 SW 7th St., B305, Renton, WA 98057 www.anewaop.org

Alternative Solutions

Through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) there are new grants, programs and services available to pre-apprentices and apprentices to ensure they have a successful and sustainable construction career. Alternative Solutions includes a comprehensive, user-friendly database with over 3,300 statewide community-based organizations providing barrier removal services.

DSHS created this database to ensure that people of color, women, people living in economically distressed communities and people transitioning away from the justice system or military service have the support they need to succeed. Contact them at 360-664-5028 or AlternativeSolutions@dshs.wa.gov or check out their website at www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/division-child-support/alternative-solutions.

  • Apprentice: An individual who is employed to learn an apprenticeable occupation and is registered with a sponsor in an approved apprenticeship program according to RCW 49.04 and these rules.
  • Apprenticeable occupation: A skilled trade(s) or craft(s), which has been recognized by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship, Training, Employer, and Labor Services (OATELS) or the WSATC and meets the criteria established in WAC 296-05.
  • Apprenticeship agreement: A written agreement between an apprentice and either the apprentice’s employer(s), or an apprenticeship committee acting as agent for employer(s), containing the terms and conditions of the employment and training of the apprentice.
  • Apprenticeship committee: A quasi-public entity approved by the WSATC to perform apprenticeship and training services for employers and employees.
  • Apprenticeship program: A plan for administering an apprenticeship agreement(s). The plan must contain all terms and conditions for the qualification, recruitment, selection, employment and training of apprentices, including such matters as the requirement for a written apprenticeship agreement.
  • Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services (ATELS): Federal apprenticeship agency that oversees federal apprenticeship program registration and standard changes and approvals.
  • Approved: Approved by the WSATC or a person or entity authorized by the WSATC to do so.
  • CFR: The Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Cancellation: The termination of the registration or approval status of a program at the request of the supervisor or sponsor. Cancellation also refers to the termination of an apprenticeship agreement at the request of the apprentice, supervisor, or sponsor.
  • Certificate of completion: A record of the successful completion of a term of apprenticeship (see WAC 296-05-323).
  • Certification: Written approval by the WSATC of:
    1. A set of apprenticeship standards established by an apprenticeship program sponsor and substantially conforming to the standards established by the WSATC.
    2. An individual as eligible for probationary employment as an apprentice under a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Committee program: All apprenticeship programs as further described in WAC 296-05-309.
  • Current instruction: The related/supplemental instructional content is and remains reasonably consistent with the latest trade practices, improvements, and technical advances.
  • Department: The Department of Labor & Industries.
  • Employer: Any person or organization employing an apprentice whether or not such person or organization is a party to an apprenticeship agreement with the apprentice. “Employer” includes both union and open shop employers.
  • Individual agreement: A written agreement between an apprentice and/or trainee and either the apprentice’s employer or an apprenticeship committee acting as agent for the employer.
  • Industry wide standards: The current, acceptable trade practices, including technological advancements that are being used in the different trades.
  • Joint: Indicates a program that is jointly sponsored by a group of employers and a labor organization with a collective bargaining agreement. It is administered by employer and employee representatives from an apprenticeship and training committee composed equally from management and labor.
  • Journey level: An individual who has sufficient skills and knowledge of a trade, craft, or occupation, either through formal apprenticeship training or through practical on-the-job work experience, to be recognized by a state or federal registration agency and/or an industry as being fully qualified to perform the work of the trade, craft, or occupation. Practical experience must be equal to or greater than the term of apprenticeship.
  • Non-joint: Indicates a program where there is no labor organization or collective bargaining agreement. It is sponsored by employer association(s) and administered by an apprenticeship committee composed equally from employer and employee representatives.
  • On-the-job training program: A program that is set up in the same manner as an apprenticeship program with any exceptions authorized by the WSATC and as further described in WAC 296-05-311.
  • Petitions, requests, and correspondence: Any written business brought before the WSATC (examples may include: (1) Requests for new committees (2) Requests for revisions to the standards; and (3) Appeals).
  • Plant: Indicates a program for a single physical location or a group of physical locations owned by the sponsor.
  • Prevailing Wage: The hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid in the largest city in each county to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics. Prevailing wages are established by the Department of Labor & Industries for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work. They are established separately for each county and are reflective of local wage conditions. (RCW 31.12.010 and 015)
  • Probation:
    1. Initial: The period following the apprentice’s acceptance into the program which is limited in time by these rules and during which the apprentice’s appeal rights are impaired.
    2. Disciplinary: A time assessed when the apprentice’s progress is not satisfactory. During this time the program sponsor may withhold periodic wage advancements, suspend or cancel the apprenticeship agreement, or take further disciplinary action. A disciplinary probation may only be assessed after the initial probation is completed. During the disciplinary probation, the apprentice has the right to file an appeal of the committee’s action with the WSATC (as described in WAC 296-05-009).
  • RCW: The Revised Code of Washington.
  • Registration: Maintaining the records of apprenticeship and training agreements and of training standards.
  • Regular quarterly meeting: A public meeting held quarterly by the WSATC as described in WAC 296-05-200.
  • Related/supplemental instruction: Instruction approved by the program sponsor and taught by an instructor approved by the program sponsor. Instructors must be competent in their trade or occupation. A sponsor must review related/supplemental instruction annually to insure that it is relevant and current.
  • Relevant instruction: Related/supplemental instructional content that is directly required in and applicable to the performance of the apprentice’s work. Relevant does not mean academic course content taught by a solely academically qualified instructor except for courses approved by the committee or specified by state law.
  • Secretary: The individual appointed by the director of the Department of Labor & Industries according to RCW 49.04.030.
  • Sponsor: Any person, firm, association, committee, or organization operating an apprenticeship and training program and in whose name the program is registered or is to be registered.
  • Standards: A written agreement containing specific provisions for operation and administration of the apprenticeship program and all terms and conditions for the qualifications, recruitment, selection, employment, and training of apprentices, as further defined in WAC 296-05-316.
  • Supervision: The necessary education, assistance, and control provided by a journey-level employee that is on the same job site at least 75 percent of each working day, unless otherwise approved by the WSATC.
  • Supervisor: The individual appointed by the director of the department according to RCW 49.04.030 who acts as the secretary of the WSATC. Where these rules indicate a duty of the supervisor or secretary of the WSATC, the supervisor may designate a Department of Labor & Industries’ employee to assist in the performance of those duties subject to the supervisor’s oversight and direction.
  • Trade: Any apprenticeable occupation defined by the apprenticeship, training, employer and labor services section of the United States Department of Labor and these rules.
  • Trainee: An individual registered with the supervisor according to WAC 296-05-311.
  • Training agent: Employer of registered apprentices approved by the program sponsor to furnish on-the-job training to satisfy the approved apprenticeship program standards who agrees to employ registered apprentices in that work process. The training agent shall use only registered apprentices to perform the work processes of the approved program standards.
  • Training agreement: A written agreement between a training agent and a program sponsor that contains the provisions of the apprenticeship program applicable to the training agent and the duties of the training agent in providing on-the-job training.
  • WAC: The Washington Administrative Code.
  • WSATC: The Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council. The Council has statutory and regulatory responsibility for governing apprenticeship and training programs in the state of Washington. (RCW 49.04 and WAC 296-05) The Council’s primary function is to approve and register apprenticeship and training agreements. Persons or organizations desiring to institute an apprenticeship training program must first propose their committee and standards to conform to apprenticeship laws and regulations for consideration of approval by the Council.

Apprenticeships by Trade