What is Apprenticeship?

Residential Carpenter Apprentice
"Training Today for Tomorrow's Workforce" 

If you like the challenge of learning a new skill, if you have good aptitude, and if you like to earn while you learn, a registered apprentice training program could be for you!

The apprenticeship method of training – a skilled worker passing on craft knowledge to another – is almost as old as recorded history. Apprenticeship is, in simple terms, a system of training in which a person desiring to learn a specific apprenticeable occupation is given instruction and experience on the job, as well as school courses related to such occupation.

Since the Middle Ages, skills have been passed on through a master-apprentice system in which the apprentice was indentured to the master for a specified period of years. The apprentice usually received food, shelter and clothing in return for the work the apprentice performed while under the apprentice indenture. Today’s apprenticeship programs provide a more formalized and structured system of training.

Apprenticeship combines classroom studies with on-the-job training under the supervision of a journey-level craft person or trade professional in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Like a college education, it takes several years to become fully trained in the fields that offer apprenticeships.

As an apprentice, you'll earn while you learn. At first, you'll make less money than skilled workers do. As you progress, you'll get regular raises and, once you've mastered the craft, you'll receive the same wages as a professional.

After completing an apprenticeship program, the worker's journey-level status provides an additional benefit of nationwide mobility at journey level scale.

Thousands of apprentices have gone through Washington State’s apprenticeship system and have contributed to the state’s economy.


Eight Essential Components of Apprenticeship Training

Structured Training

Apprenticeship is a training strategy that:

  • Combines supervised, structured on-the-job training with related instruction.
  • Is sponsored by employers, employer associations orlabor/management groups that have the ability to hire and train in a working environment. The employment opportunity is the most basic requirement for any apprenticeship. Without the job, there is no on-the-job training. On-the-job training represents about 90 percent of the program.
  • Provides quality related instruction.Related instruction is theoretical and technical, and is usually provided by the Community College System, a university or a company recognized training. Related instruction is a key part of each apprenticeship and is required by apprenticeship regulations. Apprentices are required to participate in a minimum of 144 hours of related instruction a year.

Skilled Training

Apprenticeship is a training strategy that prepares people for skilled employment by conducting training in bona fide and documented employment settings. The content of training, both on-the-job and related instruction, is defined by the industry.

Apprenticeship Regulations

Apprenticeship is a training strategy with requirements clearly stated in federal and state laws and regulations. The National Apprenticeship Act of 1937 (also known as the Fitzgerald Act) provides the guidance from the federal level. Washington Administrative Code, Chapter 296-05, provides additional state requirements. These regulations establish minimum requirements for apprenticeship standards, such as:

  1. The length of training
  2. Type and amount of related instruction
  3. Supervision of the apprentice
  4. Appropriate ratios of apprentices to journey workers
  5. Apprentice selection and recruitment procedures


Apprenticeship is a training strategy that leads to a Certificate of Completion and officially recognized craftsman status. The completion certificates are issued by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council. These credentials are nationally recognized.

Also required is the approval and monitoring of the program by the Department of Labor and Industries. When employers desire to start or modify an apprentice program, Labor and Industries provides technical assistance.

Investment in Training

Apprenticeship is a training strategy that involves a tangible investment on the part of the apprentice, program sponsor, individual employer or labor/management group. An apprentice’s investment is the time to learn skills and to perfect those skills on the job.

Apprentices are expected to manage their time, keep work records, attend classes and progress in their apprenticeship training program. An apprentice may also be required to pay for tuition or books. The employer’s investment includes allowing time for the apprentice to complete the related instruction and paying the wages of the apprentice while training on the job under the supervision of a skilled craftsman.

Earn & Learn

Apprenticeship is a training strategy that pays wages to apprentices during the term of their apprenticeships. These wages are a portion of the skilled wage rate that increases throughout the training program in accordance with a predetermined wage scale. The entry wages must average no less that 50 percent of the journeyman rate of pay for the occupation and must be above the minimum wage rate.

Supervised Training

Apprenticeship is a training strategy in which participants learn by working directly under the supervision of skilled workers, mentors or craftsmen in the occupation.

Apprentice Agreement

Apprenticeship is a training strategy that involves a written agreement between the 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.

To learn more about Apprenticeship, contact Kim Waseca-Love at (509) 532-4990.