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Become a Youth Apprentice

Youth Apprenticeship (YA) integrates school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in employability and occupational skills defined by Wisconsin industries. Local programs provide training based on statewide youth apprenticeship curriculum guidelines, endorsed by business and industry. Students are instructed by qualified teachers and skilled worksite mentors. Students are simultaneously enrolled in academic classes to meet high school graduation requirements, in a youth apprenticeship related instruction class, and are employed by a participating employer under the supervision of a skilled mentor.

About the Youth Apprenticeship Program

Program Framework

Key elements of the youth apprenticeship program are:

  • Industry-developed skill standards
  • Exposure to multiple aspects of the industry
  • Skilled mentors assigned to train the students
  • Paid on-the-job work experience
  • Related classroom instruction concurrent with work-based learning
  • Curriculum guidelines for all programs
  • Performance evaluation of demonstrated competencies
  • State-issued skill certificate

Timeline & Requirements

YA Level One (Year One) and Level Two (Year Two)

Level One:

  • Junior OR Senior year of High School
  • 450 hours of work-based learning MINIMUM
  • 2 semesters of related classroom instruction

Level Two:

  • Junior AND Senior year of High School
  • 900 hours of work-based learning MINIMUM
  • 4 semesters of related classroom instruction


  • Level One and Level Two apprenticeships may begin upon completion of a student's sophomore year if their age does not violate Employment of Minors legal restrictions for that occupation.
  • Level One apprenticeships may begin as late as January of the senior year, and Level Two apprenticeships may begin as late as January of their junior year.


  • By high school graduation
  • By AUGUST 31 following high school graduation
  • Extensions beyond August 31st may be granted - submit request to DWD YA Program at: ya@dwd.wisconsin.gov.

How Do I Become a Youth Apprentice?

  1. Get Prepared & apply

    Get started by talking to your school counselor, Youth Apprenticeship Local Coordinator or Regional Coordinator about how to apply and obtain career materials (plans of study) from your coordinators.

  2. Interview with employers and companies in chosen industries

    If accepted, you are eligible to interview at a company in the industry where you're looking to gain experience.

  3. Participate in all employer orientations, onboardings, and safety trainings

    After a successful interview, you will participate in an onsite orientation where, among many other things, you will get to meet your new mentor.

  4. Participate in regular progress reviews

    Complete your industry specific YA requirements as you work and study during your apprenticeship.

  5. Complete industry specific classroom and worksite YA requirements

    Once all your requirements are fulfilled, you will receive your Certificate of Occupational Proficiency (YA certificate) from the Department of Workforce Development!

Occupational Pathways

Careers have been organized into 11 clusters based on common knowledge and similar skill requirements. Within each cluster there are pathways that break those careers down further into smaller groups.

Choosing a career path can feel like a daunting process at times and that is why it is important to consider what career clusters could be a good fit and explore on a broader scale first, sort of like testing the water before getting in.

Career clusters are a framework that allows us to examine areas of interest without having to choose a specific career right away. Youth Apprenticeship offers several career programs to pursue. The options may vary depending on the offerings for your local area.

Other Work-Based Learning Programs

Wisconsin's Work Based Learning options include: