There are three classes of falconers, each with its own requirements and privileges.
Apprentice falconer (WAC 220-420-070)
A falconry apprenticeship is at least two years under the sponsorship of a General or Master falconer. The sponsor is the Apprentice’s teacher, mentor, and guide.
Apprentices may possess only one raptor at a time and may trap only an American kestrel or red-tailed hawk from the wild. Apprentices may possess other species of raptors (with exceptions) if the bird is transferred to them or captive bred.
General falconer (WAC 220-420-060)
A General falconer must be at least 16 years old and have completed at least two years as an Apprentice falconer. After at least two years of satisfactory apprenticeship, he or she may apply to be a General falconer by submitting a Falconry Permit Upgrade application signed by a general or master falconer preferably the Apprentice sponsor. The person signing the application must support the upgrade and be able to verify the experience and training of the upgrade applicant..
General falconers may possess up to three birds for falconry at one time and may trap several additional species from the wild. After two years of falconry practice, a General falconer may sponsor an Apprentice falconer.
Master falconer (WAC 220-420-050)
A Master falconer must have at least five years of experience as a General falconer and show expertise in hunting and care of their birds. They should have experience with more than one species of raptor. Applicants for a Master class falconry permit must submit a Falconry Permit Upgrade application and provide evidence of having practiced falconry at the General level for at least five years.
Master class falconers may possess up to five wild-caught raptors and may trap peregrine falcons with a special permit. Master falconers may apply for a golden eagle authorization after acquiring the mandatory experience. Master falconers may possess any number of captive bred raptors but must train and use them for hunting wild game.
All falconers should also plan on joining the two falconry associations – the Washington Falconers Association and the North American Falconers Association – especially during the apprenticeship period.