Behavioral Health Workforce Apprenticeship Program

Thanks to generous funding from the Ballmer Group, the Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) is helping address the behavioral health workforce crisis through a collaboration with community partners – principally, the SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW Multi-Employer Training Fund (known as the Training Fund) and King County – to develop and implement an innovative  statewide Behavioral Health Apprenticeship program.

The Training Fund’s Health Care Apprenticeship Consortium (HCAC) has successfully launched and implemented several statewide health care apprenticeship programs, and the behavioral health apprenticeship program is their newest effort.

The behavioral health apprenticeship (BHA) program has three pathways: Behavioral health technician, substance use disorder professional (SUDP), and peer counselor. Apprentices earn while they learn and will receive college credits for the classroom portion of the program.

This apprenticeship program aims to: 

  • Help diversify the behavioral health workforce
  • Create additional entry points to the behavioral health field
  • Increase the number of people who provide vital behavioral health services
  • Establish a continuous cycle of increasing professionalism, including a career ladder
  • Enhance staff retention, of both entry-level apprentices and their experienced mentors

The first apprenticeship cohorts started in October 2022. As of January 2024, more than 100 apprentices have participated, and more than 100 are expected to initiate participation in 2024.

Behavioral health employers interested in hiring apprentices should contact HCAC directly at, or contact BHI’s behavioral health apprenticeship project director, Sheryl Schwartz, at

For a glimpse of the apprenticeship experience, read a brief profile about a new SUDP apprentice on this webpage.

For more information about the BH apprenticeship program, visit Training Fund HCAC and the Behavioral Health Apprenticeship’s FAQ webpage