Employers Facts and Questions

What are Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships?
How Does Apprenticeship Work?
What Type of Training will be Given?
What Certification Does the Apprentice Receive at the End of the Program?
How is AJAC’s Apprenticeship Program Unique?
What is the Return on Investment (ROI) on an Apprenticeship Program?
How Long will it be Until My Company Will See an ROI?
Who can Participate in the AJAC Apprenticeship Program?
What is the Pay Structure for the Apprentice?
Is there Funding Available to My Company for Training?
What are My Responsibilities as an Employer?
What are the Responsibilities of AJAC, the Apprentice and other Entities?
Can My Company Layoff an Apprentice, if Needed?
How do I Get Started?

What are Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeship combines supervised on-the-job training experience with college-level classroom instruction, giving employers a proven method to capture the knowledge and skills of their most experienced workers and pass it on to the next generation of productive employees. Apprenticeship ensures employers hire a multi-skilled employee who is fully competent in all aspects of their occupation. This direct transfer of knowledge and rotation throughout the job site creates a flexible workforce with master tradespeople capable of producing the highest quality products. Through an apprenticeship program with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), ninety-three percent (93%) of the education takes place as paid on-the-job training (OJT) where the aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprentice is supervised by a journey-level employee from their workplace. During the other seven percent (7%) of the apprenticeship, apprentices attend related college classroom instruction in several Washington State locations to learn the theory and application behind what they are learning on the job.

During the on-the-job training portion (93%), the apprentice:

  • Is matched with a Journey-Level worker the employer selects, to learn the skills of the occupation
  • Learns and practices progressively challenging tasks of the occupation

During the classroom instruction portion (7%), the apprentice:

  • Attends class, usually one night per week, studying theory and practical application in class taught by Journey Level teachers at a local Washington State community or technical college
  • Uses the classroom work to prepare for more difficult tasks on the job

In an aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program, there is a written agreement between the apprentice and the employer or apprenticeship program sponsor, approved by and registered with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. This agreement specifies:

  • Length of training
  • Related technical instruction
  • Outline of the skills of the aerospace occupation to be learned
  • Wages the apprentice will be paid

After successfully completing the prescribed hours of related classroom instruction and hands-on training, the apprentice will graduate to a highly skilled “journey-worker” and receive their Journey-Level Certificate.

How Does Apprenticeship Work?

Registered apprenticeship programs start with the formation of an apprenticeship committee composed of industry leaders, experts and employee representatives. AJAC is the committee for these apprenticeship programs and is officially registered with Washington State.

AJAC develops program guidelines that include:

  • Criteria for becoming an aerospace apprentice
  • Skill and proficiency requirements to reach journey worker status
  • Number of aerospace apprenticeship openings
  • Wage rates and progressions based upon demonstrated competencies
  • Required course curriculum to complement on-the-job training
  • Supervision methods
  • Equal opportunity procedures

Apprenticeship Basics

Registered aerospace apprenticeships are made up of the following components:

Structured and supervised Training

  • Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training under the direction of a mentor (an experienced journey worker at their workplace)
  • Related classroom instruction (minimum of 144 hours each year) is provided by Washington State community and technical colleges or other educational providers
  • Apprenticeships typically last from one to six years

Laws and regulations

  • Registered apprenticeships are governed by federal and state laws
  • Parties enter into a written agreement called an apprenticeship registration that specifies length of occupational training, related school requirements, an outline of the skills of the occupation to be learned and wages the apprentice will receive
  • Apprentices earn wages during the term of their apprenticeship
  • Wages are a portion of the skilled wage rate and increase throughout the occupational training program in accordance with a predetermined wage scale


  • Successful completion of a registered apprenticeship program leads to a nationally recognized certificate of completion and official journey worker status
  • It is sometimes possible for the program to be designed so apprentices receive college credit and/or a degree for their on-the-job training time in the program


  • Aerospace apprentices manage their time, keep work records, and attend classes and progress in their apprenticeship program. Apprentices may also be required to pay for tuition or books.
  • Employers pay wages, oversee on-the-job training, monitor attendance at training classes and evaluate progress


The primary cost to starting an apprenticeship program is time and effort. You pay no fees to Labor and Industries to register an aerospace program. If you decide to participate as a training agent by partnering with AJAC, you may be required to pay a small fee to the apprenticeship program to help cover the costs of training. This fee varies by program.

What Type of Training Will be Given?

AJAC has developed and implemented the following registered apprenticeship programs:

  • Machinist (Aircraft-Oriented)
  • Aircraft Mechanic Airframe
  • Precision Metal Fabricator
  • Tool and Die Maker
  • Industrial Maintenance Mechanic

AJAC is currently developing the following registered apprenticeship programs to offer in the future:

  • Aircraft Interiors Assembly Mechanic
  • Composite Technician

What Certification Does the Apprentice Receive at the End of the Program?

The Journey-Level Certificate

An apprenticeship “Award of Completion” certifies that an individual has been trained in all aspects of an occupation and has met the requirements for program completion. The certificate, issued by the Washington State Labor and Industries Division, is recognized throughout the state. The Journey-Level Certificate:

  • Is recognized industry-wide as a valid indicator of high quality, standardized training
  • Provides documentation for community college credit for on-the-job training

The Interim Certificate

Occasionally apprenticeship programs may provide interim certificates for apprentices who complete a predetermined portion of the apprenticeship program. For example an apprenticeship program may offer an interim certificate when an apprentice has successfully complete two years of a four-year apprenticeship program. These certificates are provided by the apprenticeship committee and are recognized by the employer of the apprentice. The interim certificate:

  • Provides an opportunity for an apprentice to take time off of the program with recognition of the work already completed
  • Is offered only in specific apprenticeship programs

How is AJAC’s Apprenticeship Program Unique?

AJAC is recognized as an innovative educational leader, utilizing the highest caliber skilled trainers. AJAC collaborates with industry, community and technical colleges, and statewide support services to create and maintain cutting-edge, industry-driven technology, expand diversity within the industry, and provide clear career pathways and standards of excellence.

What is the Return Investment (ROI) on an Apprenticeship Program?

AJAC employers speaks of receiving a 40% productivity gain by having a multi-skilled workforce.

How long will it be until My Company will see ROI?

Apprentices cost less to employ initially and are shown to work harder. An employer increases apprentice pay only as they become more skilled and productive. Studies show ‘home grown’ employees are more industrious and show greater loyalty. Apprentices often out-perform traditional employees by year five and are an investment in a businesses’ future.

Who can Participate in the AJAC Apprenticeship Program?

We provide our apprenticeship programs to organizations linked in a variety of ways to aerospace/aviation, advanced manufacturing, medical device, biotech, agriculture, energy and marine industries. If you produce parts for any of these industries or have customers in these industries, you will most likely be eligible to participate in our education and training programs.

Aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs are available to any Washington State company in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and its suppliers including, small and large shops as well as union and non-union affiliated shops. We currently have education and training programs in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Franklin and Yakima counties.

What is the Pay Structure for the Apprentice?

An apprentice is usually brought on as a full-time employee who is learning while earning a paycheck. Aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprentices start out earning 60% of the Journey-Level wage rate. About every six months the employer evaluates the apprentice in both related classroom instruction and on-the-job-training (OJT). If the apprentice demonstrates satisfactory progress in both areas, the employer recommends advancement to the next pay level.

Is there Funding Available to My Company for Training?

Yes. Employers seeking to hire apprentices can utilize numerous sources for locating financial and tax incentives. Veteran’s organizations, the Washington Department of Revenue, Aerospace Futures Alliance and the Washington Department of Commerce are all valuable resources for current information. AJAC continually promotes awareness and value of apprenticeship in order to encourage incentives and make it easier for employers to participate in the registered apprenticeship program.

What are My Responsibilities as an Employer?

  • Become a Training Agent by signing the AJAC agreement form furnished by the Washington State Labor & Industries Apprenticeship Section
  • Grant equal treatment and training opportunities for all apprentices and apply those conditions uniformly
  • Have equipment available and rotate apprentices in the various processes of the skilled occupation
  • Determine tuition reimbursement policy for apprentices if applicable.
  • Identify (or hire) employees to train in apprenticeship program
  • Identify a Master Tradesperson to mentor apprentice(s) and maintain the appropriate 1:1 ratio
  • Oversee apprentice’s on-the-job training and monitor attendance at related training classes
  • Periodically review and evaluate apprentices before advancement to the apprentice’s next wage progression
  • Pay your apprentice(s) the percentage of Journey-Level wage rate for hours worked.
  • Commits to retain employee for duration of apprenticeship
  • Recommends “Award of Completion” certificate when an apprentice has satisfactorily completed the required course work and on-the-job training

What are the Responsibilities of AJAC, the Apprentice and Other Entities?


  • Committee is comprised of equal management & non-management (worker) representatives
  • Offers training opportunities on an equal basis to all employers
  • Determines the ability of an employer to furnish proper on-the-job training in accordance with the provisions of the Standards
  • Grants equal treatment and training opportunities for all apprentices and applies those conditions uniformly
  • Develops and maintains related training agreements with appropriate training institutions
  • Advocates for aerospace training in Washington State
  • Assists with apprentice recruitment as required
  • Recruits instructors to teach the classroom training
  • Reports apprentice OJT and college course progress and status to L&I Apprenticeship Section
  • Tracks apprentice OJT and college course hours
  • Representation and accountability to the WSATC and L&I Apprenticeship Section
  • L&I Apprenticeship Section compliance reviews, including EEO guidelines and Fair Labor Standards

The Employees/Apprentices

  • Meet the minimum qualifications:
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a high school graduate, have a GED or are working toward a GED with proof of successful completion of the GED within 6 months of entering the apprenticeship
  • Successfully passed college Math and English classes (090 or greater) or completed an assessment test such as the:
    • World of Work Inventory (WOWI) with minimum scores of 27.78 in numerical, 34.95 in verbal
    • Compass Test with minimum scores of 67 in reading, 32 in writing, and 53 in pre-algebra
    • ASSET Test with minimum scores of 37 in reading skills, 37 in writing skills, and 43 in numerical skills
  • Ability to perform the physical requirements of the occupation
  • Sign an Apprenticeship Agreement with AJAC and abide by the AJAC Standards of Apprenticeship
  • Pay half of the community college tuition (depending on company reimbursement policy)
  • Commit to the program for its full duration
  • Work the required work hours while receiving on-the-job training
  • Demonstrate progress on the job
  • Submit monthly work progress reports
  • Attend and complete the required supplemental training which is typically held off work hours
  • Agree to and follow their employer’s requirements as well as the requirements put forth by the AJAC committee

The Schools

The community colleges and other training facilities are responsible for offering related coursework to apprentices receiving on-the-job training. Schools and community colleges provide:

  • Coursework that is coordinated with the on-the-job training program. Examples include advanced mathematics, basic and advanced electronics, theory and classroom experience with industry machinery and equipment
  • Teachers with expertise in the occupation
  • Opportunities to earn credit for completed academic courses and on-the-job training

Washington State Labor Industries Division

The Washington State Labor and Industries Division apprenticeship consultant facilitates cooperation among employers, workers and schools. An apprenticeship consultant:

  • Helps the committee design training programs to meet an industry´s specific need
  • Advises committees on standards and curricula used elsewhere in the state and nation
  • Provides information on statewide employment needs and trends
  • Works with committees to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal regulations and the requirements of the state Apprenticeship Council
  • Assists in updating standards to maintain state-of-the-art training

Can My Company Layoff an Apprentice, if Needed?

Yes. An apprentice is just like any other hired employee. If an employer needs to reduce their workforce, they may lay off an apprentice. AJAC has partnered with educational institutions in Washington State to make it possible for an apprentice in certain programs to relocate and continue their education and apprenticeship in other regions.

How Do I Get Started?

To start an AJAC apprenticeship program at your company, contact AJAC at: 206-764-7940 or info@ajactraining.org or online.