Industrial/Manufacturing Trades

Did You Know?

Workers in manufacturing and industrial trades make almost all of the products that we use. Paper goods, automobiles, farm machinery, and electrical equipment are just a few of the major products manufactured by skilled workers in Wisconsin. The following trades are included under this overall heading.

Every product that we touch in daily life, a metalworking journeyperson touches first. The machine tool trades build precise, complex tools and precision component parts used in high technology industries such as aerospace, medical, automotive, defense, construction, and consumer products.

If you are mechanically minded, hands-on-person who likes problem solving, designing and building things, accepting responsibility, teamwork, math and industrial science, take a look at the advantages of a career in the machine tool trades.

Machinists use machine tools to repair metal parts, tools, or machines, applying knowledge of mechanics, shop mathematics, metal properties, and machining operations.  They study specifications to determine dimensions and tolerances of workpieces and sequences of necessary operations.  Machinists are skilled workers who can transform a block of metal into an intricate part, such as a gear or piston, that meets precise specifications.  They set up and operate most kinds of machine tools used to fabricate metal parts of automobiles, machines, and other equipment, and also have knowledge of the properties of a variety of metals, such as: steel, cast iron, aluminum, and brass.

The cost of a set of measuring instruments, including verniers, micrometers, and a dial indicator, can run from $300.00 to $700.00. Employers often purchase these and reimburse themselves with deductions from the apprentices' paychecks.

Machinists with experience can advance to supervisory positions. With additional training, they may become tool and die makers or instrument makers. Some open their own machine shops.

There will be a need for 441 additional machinists in Wisconsin between 1986 and 2000, according to the state's Labor Market Information Bureau. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a need for 22,500 machinists nationwide through the 1900's.

Simply glance the "Skilled Trades" and "Professional Technical" sections of any newspaper and, regardless of the economy, you'll see many employment opportunities available for Machinists, Tool and Die Makers, EDM, Moldmakers, and Patternmakers.

The types of metalworking skills needed by industry today are advancing as rapidly as technology. Employers need people who know how to design on modeling software, integrate automation with machine tools and troubleshoot problems. The nature of the metalworking trades is changing to encompass ever-higher technology skills.

Throughout an apprenticeship, a journey worker will be attending technical college, earning good money and not accumulating the typical debt associated with attending college.  Upon completion of an apprenticeship, a journey worker is already employed within his/her career field and is well on the way to above-average earnings potential.

How Do I Apply for Apprenticeship in the Industrial Trades?

Applying for apprenticeship in the industrial and service sectors involves applying directly to the company that operates an apprenticeship program. Although the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards has set minimum entry requirements for each individual trade, eligibility requirements will vary from employer to employer and trade to trade. Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent, math and reading skills.

Some employers test individuals to determine aptitude and trade knowledge. Some of the larger companies and those companies that have collective bargaining agreements often limit apprenticeship opportunities to people who are currently in their employment. This may mean that an individual interested in becoming an apprentice will have to take another position with the company while waiting for the opportunity to serve in an apprenticeship. Some companies may list apprenticeship opportunities with the local Job Center, technical college or in the classified ads of the local newspaper.

Sampling of Industrial Apprenticeships Available in Wisconsin:

Electrical and Instrumentation Technician
Industrial Electrician
Industrial Pipefitter
Machinist
Maintenance Mechanic
Metal Fabricator
Mold Maker
Pattern Maker
Tool and Die Maker

Source: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Apprenticeship in Wisconsin Handbook