Apprenticeship Overview


chart of median apprenticeship salaries

Apprenticeship includes supervised, structured, on-the-job training and classroom based learning. Workers learn both the practical and theory aspects of a highly-skilled occupation in two to five years.

The purpose of apprenticeship is to prepare Wisconsin's skilled trades people (journey workers) to the workforce for the State of Wisconsin. Apprenticeship is an earn-while-you-learn program of on-the-job training combined with trade-related classroom instruction.

Apprentices work and train under a contract or written training agreement. This contract is between the apprentice, the employer, and the State of Wisconsin. While under contract, the employer agrees to teach the student the skills of the trade and the apprentice agrees to learn the skills involved. Other conditions of the contract, such as the length of training, amount of pay, the rate of periodic pay increases, and the related classroom hours are also covered.

On-the-Job Training


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The potential apprentice must have an employment opportunity as the most basic requirement for any apprenticeship. Apprentices are paid (on average) at least 60% of the wage of a skilled worker over the term of their contract. The employment opportunity is the first and foremost requirement for any apprenticeship.

Classroom-Related Instruction

Apprentices are paid an hourly wage to attend related instruction sponsored by employers, employer associations or labor/management groups with the ability to hire and train in a working environment.

The related instruction is theoretical and technical, and is usually provided by the Wisconsin Technical College System. Related instruction is a key part of each apprenticeship and is required by the Wisconsin apprenticeship law. If the apprenticeship is for two years or less, the related instruction is at least 144 hours per year. If the apprenticeship is for more than two years, then the school provision must be for no less than 400 hours during the term of the apprenticeship.

Types of Apprenticeship Trade

An apprenticeship program is an excellent choice because it provides real-life opportunities that cannot be duplicated in any other training program. Apprenticeships are available in three main trades - construction, industrial/manufacturing, and service.

If you have a field in mind but are unsure of what specific apprenticeship interests you, try browsing by these trade areas.

  • Construction apprentices build and repair residential, commercial and industrial structures. Work is often outdoors and may require travel. Local trade committees that sponsor construction apprenticeships are designated as either JAC (joint worker/manager representation and subject to collective bargaining agreements), or ABC (sponsored by Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, a merit-shop employer association). Local committees develop their own operational policies and selection procedures subject to the approval of the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.
  • Industrial/Manufacturing workers make almost all the products we use. These apprentices set-up, operate, build and repair the machinery and equipment needed for food processing and the production of paper goods, automobiles, electrical equipment and machinery. Work is usually conducted indoors at a modern facility. Individual companies hire their own apprentices through varying selection procedures, and they often give preference to current workers.
  • Service apprenticeships provide personal care and service needs. This diverse group of occupations includes workers in personal services (barber/cosmetologists and cook/chef), utilities (electric line trade, metering technician) and public safety (correctional officer, fire fighters). As with the industrial trades, those interested in service apprenticeship must apply directly to the employer or company operating the apprenticeship program.