Apprenticeships | WTCS Skip to content


Wisconsin's technical colleges provide related instruction for the majority of apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin. Formal state-sponsored apprenticeship training has played a vital role in training Wisconsin's skilled workforce since 1911. And now there are more apprenticeship programs than ever before - training and education in high-demand jobs like IT and mechatronics (a program that combines several engineering areas; mechanical, computer and electrical). Apprenticeships in areas that aren't as high tech but still require important skills like cosmetology, bricklaying and child care are also options.


Icon–Money sign with envelope


median salary for all apprentices


Image Asset Icon Medium–Machinery


of apprentices were working in Wisconsin

Icon–Person on laptop
Search Programs


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.

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.

How to Get Started

In order to begin an apprenticeship, you will need a formal commitment from an employer-sponsor who is willing to meet employment and training requirements. After the agreement is made between student and employer, the next step is to locate the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) contact in your area for assistance and more details. They will oversee the apprenticeship and help ensure your opportunity is the best it can be.

How it Works

Cosmetologists smiling and mixing hair dye

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.

Apprenticeships are not direct-enrollment programs. Each type of apprenticeship has different requirements. Apprenticeships are governed by standards set by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development - Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS).

To become an apprentice, applicants must: 

  • Be employed by a company who will sponsor their apprenticeship.
  • Be at least 16 years old and possess a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma (HSED).
  • Be physically and mentally fit for the requirements of the specific apprenticeship.
  • Apply for an apprenticeship with a DWD-BAS approved trade committee or similar agency/organization or employer.
  • Meet the application requirements and be approved for the apprenticeship.
  • Enroll in an approved apprenticeship training program at a technical college or training center as stipulated in BAS standards.
  • Maintain satisfactory progress in the course of study throughout the term of the apprenticeship.


On-the-Job Training

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.

Apprenticeship Contacts

Success Story Milwaukee 10 Funeral Degree 2X

MATC and Legislature Remove Barriers to Meet the State’s Need for Funeral Directors

A Milwaukee Area Technical College instructor found himself advocating for his program far beyond the classroom, regularly traveling to Madison to push for new state legislation.

Read Gabriel's story
Ryan Geiger (Mechanic)

Speed to Market

Ryan Geiger found his debt-free fast pass to a great career while in high school​.

Read Ryan's story
Construction worker hammering

Find an Apprenticeship Program

Employers across the state are looking for talented apprentices

Find Your Program
WTCS Images OEO Become an Apprentice Page Get Started Promo 2X

Get Started

For more information visit the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Learn More
2020-21 WTCS Apprenticeship Completion COVER

Apprenticeship Completion

The annual WTCS Apprenticeship Completion report summarizes employment outcomes for registered apprentices completing related instruction through a Wisconsin technical college.

While individuals appreciate the ability to earn while they learn, and earn well, employers are increasingly interested in the idea of hiring and then developing necessary technical skills.

Learn More