Southwestern College


  • Since 1901 the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) has relied heavily upon an apprentice program to satisfy its need for skilled trades’ personnel and shop supervisors.
  • In 2010, PSNS & IMF partnered with 3 local Naval Activities (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Detachment at Pt Loma, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, and Southwestern College to create an apprentice program in San Diego, thus the Southwest Regional Apprentice Program was formed.
  • Fleet Readiness Center has a separate program (referred to here as the non-SWRAP option) that focuses on Aircraft maintenance and repair. Apprentices in this program attend college classes at the Southwest Regional Apprentice School at NAS North Island.
  • Current Apprentice enrollment is approximately 100 apprentices.

This program is located in San Diego. Apprentices attend college and trade classes at our apprentice school at NAS North Island and on the job learning at one of three sites:  North Island, Point Loma or 32nd Street Naval Base.

About the Program

  • Apprentices are hired into Federal Civil Service (Civilian) positions associated with the maintenance and repair of Naval Ships and Aircraft.
  • Apprentices enjoy Federal Employee benefits (Annual and Sick Leave, Health Insurance, Accrual of retirement benefits, Group Life Insurance, etc.) upon starting their new jobs as apprentices.
  • The apprentice program involves 4 years of intensive training in one of about 10 skilled trades of interest to the participating naval activities:
    • Machinists
    • Welders
    • Marine Machinery Mechanics
    • Riggers
    • Pipefitters & Temp Service Pipefitters
    • Electricians & Temp Service Electricians
  • For those selected to the Southwest Regional Apprentice Program: The first 3 years are equally divided between trade skill training and taking college classes, which leads to an Associate’s degree in Liberal Studies in Math & Science at the end of the third year.
  • For those selected to the FRCSW Apprentice Program (non-SWRAP option), The first 18 months are equally divided between trade skill training and taking college classes, which leads to a Basic Certificate in Leadership and Supervision at the end of the 3rd semester (typically at the middle of the 2nd year).
  • After successful completion of College and trade courses, emphasis shifts from academics to specific skill training on the job, leading toward the apprentice achieving journey level certifications through the Department of Labor and Department of Navy.
  • Upon completion, candidates are traditionally offered career employment status at their employing activity as a journey level employee with full benefits.

Careers and 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 $16.33 per hour. Apprentices receive promotions every 26 weeks so long as they meet the requirements for promotion at the end of each promotion period.

Apprentice Wages (2016)

  • 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 75%.

How to Apply

  • Applicants must be US Citizens aged 18 years or older as of their entry on duty (EOD) date capable of meeting the physical requirements of the trade to which they are selected.
  • The Southwest Regional Apprentice Program (SWRAP) and FRCSW Apprentice Program (non-SWRAP) accept applications once per year (typically in March/April timeframe) via announcements on
  • Applications cannot be accepted outside of the announcement period or outside of the announcement
  • Interested parties are encouraged to monitor this usajobs feed for the announcement:
  • Additionally, interested parties can submit an email to the following email address to request addition to the distribution list for periodic updates of interest to those interested in applying.  Those on the distribution list will be the first to receive information on announcement dates and the application process.

  • The application process involves:
    • Submitting a resume and completing the application process during the open announcement period on
    • Taking and passing of the US Office of Personnel Management apprentice aptitude examination in person during one of the scheduled sessions (determined after closing of the annual announcement)
    • Selection for an interview by one or more of the various participating trades and activities
    • For Veterans:  To receive consideration under Veterans Preference, you must verify your eligibility by submitting your DD-214, VA Letter and SF-15 along with your application
  • Those selected to the program will be required to complete the following as part of the onboarding process:
    • A comprehensive background investigation for security clearance
    • A medical examination
    • For some trades: A Physical Capabilities Exam to ensure suitability for the trade.
    • Placement into SWC Courses through assessment or transcript evaluation:  MATH 45 before the start of semester 1 and ENGL 115 before the start of Semester 2.
    • NOTE: All apprentices take the prescribed SWC courses regardless of previous academic background/experience, even if they have previously taken the prescribed courses.
  • Those who complete the onboarding process will be required to sign a Continued Service Agreement committing to up to 30 months of employment with the Department of Defense following completion of the academics portion of the program.

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Last updated: 3/21/2016 11:00:15 AM