Get To Know Our Industry

Get To Know Our Industry2021-10-22T18:42:07-05:00



As Wisconsin’s official workforce intermediary, WRTP | BIG STEP is proud and compelled to pave the way for anyone looking for a sustaining, satisfying, and gratifying job in the trades. We work every day to renew the vibrancy of our workforce and encourage unparalleled inclusion and diversity by examining our common resources and building a community that offers hope to all.



Manufacturing in the Midwest continues to evolve. Firms increasingly rely on highly specialized and flexible processes, deploying new technology that redefines workers’ jobs and the skills needed for them. WRTP | BIG STEP has long-standing and deep relationships with manufacturing firms and labor unions built over the course of two decades. In Milwaukee, we spearheaded the creation of a new registered apprenticeship in response to these dynamic forces: Industrial Manufacturing Technicians (IMT).



The construction industry has many great pathways to family-sustaining careers. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, jobs in construction offer an average entry-level wage of $15.93, and experienced workers earn $31.97 per hour on average. With such high wages and low entry-level skill requirements, careers in construction provide a great opportunity to earn higher wages, support a family, and attain a better overall quality of life. By working directly with construction employers, labor leaders, and industry associations, WRTP | BIG STEP offers a variety of services to help develop a more diverse, qualified, and dependable workforce—now and into the future.



With an aging workforce and major ongoing and upcoming construction projects, the demand for skilled workers in the utilities sector is dramatically increasing. WRTP | BIG STEP is dedicated to meeting their growing workforce needs by preparing diverse, qualified workers for success in apprenticeships and family-sustaining jobs. WRTP | BIG STEP is also committed to supplying workers to the natural gas sector. Last year, we partnered with We Energies and United Steel Workers Local 2006 to design and implement a specialized eight-week training class for seasonal natural gas inspectors. The program is designed to enable individuals to find jobs that pay a starting wage of over $20 per hour. In February 2016, the first class of seasonal natural gas inspector trainees graduated and most were hired immediately by We Energies.




WRTP | BIG STEP works closely with the construction trades Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees to develop and administer certification and training programs that place participants on the pathway to apprenticeships and a successful career in the trade of their choice.

Boilermakers erect and maintain various types of pressure vessels, and perform some of the following skills: welding, burning, heavy and high rigging, and layout work. A Boilermaker works primarily in plants that are considered heavy industrial. Steel mills, power generation plants for utilities (fossil fuel and nuclear), chemical plants, refineries, and paper mills are just a few of the industries that Boilermakers and their contractors service. Watch Boilermaker Video

Bricklayers’ and allied craftworkers’ skills range from bricklaying, plastering, tile laying, terrazzo and marble work, cleaning, pointing and restoration of older buildings, and of course, laying bricks. The apprenticeship program lasts for three years with on-the-job training and classroom work. Watch Bricklayer Video | Watch Tile Laying Video

Carpentry apprenticeships include the following trades: Carpenter, Cabinet Maker, Floor Coverer, Lather, Millwright and Piledriver. Their programs are four-years long, require both day and night school classes totaling over 750 hours, and a minimum of 5,800 hours of on-the-job training. Watch Carpenter Video |  Watch Floor Coverer Video | Watch Millwright Video | Watch Piledriver Video

Cement masons main work is to finish concrete surfaces ranging from small to large projects where as many as 10-50 cement masons and helpers mix, place (pour) and finish concrete in structures. Watch Cement Mason Video

Electrical apprenticeships provide a diversified training program over a five-year period that includes 1,100 hours of classroom training and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Watch Electrician Video

Glaziers manufacture and install the frames and curtain wall that hold glass. They also install all forms of glass, from mirrors in bathrooms to the exterior of glass skyscrapers and everything in between. Watch Glazier Video

Heat and frost insulators perform thermal insulation application, and offer a four-year apprenticeship program. Watch Insulator Video

Iron workers erect structural steel, place reinforcement bars in concrete construction, move machinery, rig and erect equipment, and install miscellaneous fabricated building materials to name a few of their skill sets. Watch Iron Worker Video

Laborers are often the first trade on a project and the last ones to leave. The job requires you to have physical strength, reading and math skills and good problem-solving abilities. Watch Laborers Video

Operating engineers operate what is generally referred to as heavy equipment such as cranes, dozers, scrapers, loaders, motor graders, tractor loader backhoes, crawlers, and pavers to name just a few. Watch Operating Engineer Video

Plasterers must successfully be able to perform the following upon completion of their apprenticeship: Two coat, thin coat, stucco, EIFS and taping drywall. Watch Plasterer Video

Painters, paperhangers and drywall finishers put the finishing touches on new construction and remodeling. They apply paints, special coatings, color, wall coverings, and tape and finishes to previously hung gypsum wall board. Watch Painter Video

Plumbers work in residential areas such as homes, apartment buildings, health-care facilities, and in commercial and industrial facilities. Watch Plumber Video

Roofers and waterproofers work outdoors in all kinds of weather and heights. Their skills range from applying hot built-up and singly-ply roofing; installing shingle, tile and slate roofs; waterproofing foundations and plazas; and lining ponds and tanks. Watch Roofer Video

Sheet metal workers are typically employed in the Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) industry where they fabricate, install and maintain HVAC systems. They can also be employed in specialty areas including kitchen equipment, sign work and sheet metal decking and siding to name a few. Watch Sheet Metal Video

Sprinkler fitters are pipefitters specializing in fire protection, and they install fire projection systems. They install, repair and maintain all types of fixed piping fire-protection systems. Watch Sprinklerfitter Video

Steamfitters and refrigeration fitters install and service state-of-the art heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning equipment along with related piping and energy management and pneumatic control systems for residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Watch Steamfitter Video



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