Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program (SWRAP)

SWRAP Background

While most people are steered towards attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree and entering the workforce at an entry level; there are other options out there.

The average in-state tuition in California is $14,000 per year in 2018 and nationally students run up an average of $39,000 in debt over the time they are in college while earning a median salary of about $56,000 per year.

Meanwhile, our apprentices EARN an average of almost $45,000 per year over the four years they are in the program, and earn an associate’s degree with all tuition and fees paid for by the program – graduating with zero student loan debt and, upon graduating earn just under $56,000 per year…the same as the average starting salary of those completing their four-year degree. Over a ten-year period, the average apprentice will make almost $150,000 MORE than the average college graduate who completes their Baccalaureate degree in four years (only 42% of students entering college. 

Upon completing the program, there is ample potential for continuing education through the baccalaureate and possibly graduate degrees and promotion through the organization.  As an example, at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard approx. 80% of the senior managers, who make $140,000 to $160,000 per year, are apprentice program graduates.

Our apprentices learn one of a number of trades related to the maintenance, repair, and modernization of US Navy Ships and Submarines. Upon being selected for the Program, they become Federal Civil Service employees with all of the benefits Federal Employees receive including:

  • 10 paid holidays per year
  • 13 paid vacation days per year (goes up to 20 days after 3 years)
  • 13 paid sick days per year
  • Federal Employee Health Benefits
  • Federal Employees Group Life Insurance
  • Access to Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Federal Employee Retirement Benefits
  • Training and Academic Coursework on the clock
  • Full coverage of tuition and fees for program-related academic courses 

100% of the program’s graduates are immediately placed into jobs related to their trade earning approximately $56,000 per year.

If this interests you, continue reading. If not, please feel free to pass this on to someone you know who may be interested. 

We will be opening the annual announcement for the Southwest Regional Apprentice Program on February 1st  at Midnight Eastern Time. The announcement will only be open for two weeks, so apply as early as you can.

Careers & Job Outlook

The Department of the Navy fully funds student tuition for employed apprentices at each of the participating activities.

Apprentices are paid on a federal wage grade trainee (WT) scale basis, initially as WT-01 at $17.15 per hour. Everyone hired into the program starts at the same wage and progresses through the wage schedule at the same rate regardless of previous experience. Outstanding performers in trade and academics may petition for up to 6 months’ early completion of the program. Apprentices receive promotions every 26 weeks so long as they meet the requirements for promotion at the end of each promotion period.

Wage Scale



APPRENTICE PAY (2018)
Months in Program Pay Grade Hourly Wage
YEAR 1 1-6 WT-00-01 $17.15
7-12 WT-00-02 $18.31
YEAR 2 13-18 WT-00-03 $19.46
19-24 WT-00-04 $20.62
YEAR 3 25-30 WT-00-05 $21.77
31-36 WT-00-06 $22.93
YEAR 4 37-42 WT-00-07 $24.08
43-48 WT-00-08 $25.24
COMPLETION WG-10 Step 2 $26.39

This is a strong, vibrant and rigorous program, one that is intended to provide living wage jobs to area residents.  The Program serves as a college-industry model partnership. Graduation and completion rates are currently upwards of 80%. Placement rates for completers is 100%.

Application Process & Suggestions

Application now open!

Apply Now

Important Job Information

  • These are wage-grade APPRENTICE (entry-level) jobs. 
  • Though the announcement lists a range of salary, EVERYONE starts at $17.15 per hour (2019 Scale). Participants receive an approx. $1.15/hour pay raise every 26 weeks while in the program as long as they meet all program requirements. 
  • Everyone takes all the same courses at the same time, regardless of previous academic background. 
  • Apprentices will earn an Associate's Degree from Southwestern College. 
  • In order to participate in the program, you will have to be placed into the entry-level MATH and ENGLISH. The placement may be required as part of the application process or soon after starting. You will be notified of when placement requirements must be met.
  • All classes are on the clock and all tuition is paid by the program. Apprentices are responsible for their own books/supplies.
  • There is NO relocation expense payment...if you currently live out of area and are selected, you will have to relocate at your own expense and make your own living arrangements within the San Diego commuting area before your start date.
  • You must be willing to commit, in writing, to working for your employing activity for approximately 31 months following completion of your on-the-clock academic training, which is typically at the end of the 3rd year. Failure to meet the obligated time may require you to re-pay the government’s educational expenses paid on your behalf.
  • You may use your VA GI Bill Benefits to supplement your income while in the program if you wish to do so. Our VA coordinator will assist you once you start work.

For 2019, we have two (2) employers hiring, all located in San Diego:

  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard San Diego Detachment, Naval Base Pt Loma
  • SW Regional Maintenance Center, Naval Base San Diego

All Apprentice-related classes will be held at the apprentice school on Naval Air Station, North Island.  On the Job Learning (OJL) will be at one of the employers' locations indicated above.

Selection Process & Additional Information

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Due to limited resources and so that we can best serve those who thoroughly read the available information, we will only address questions not answered by the website. You should expect a response within two business days.

Thank you for your interest in the Southwest Regional Apprentice Program.

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