Young professionals pursuing a career in construction learn through an apprenticeship program. Much like colleges, universities and other secondary education options, apprenticeship programs accept students full time. Enrollment into an apprenticeship program often requires taking an aptitude test or assessment of basic math and reading skills.
However, apprentices also experience two distinct benefits from their college counterparts: the first, getting paid to learn a skill from the day they start their apprenticeship – the second, apprentices typically spend 80 percent of their time gaining hands-on experience in the field and 20 percent of their time in classroom settings.
With benefits like an immediate paycheck and training for future employment, apprenticeships are a great way gain experience and build a career right after high school.
Need more to consider? Here are four perks of becoming a construction trades apprentice.
1. GAIN HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
As you complete your apprenticeship, you will spend the majority of your time working with your union and getting hands-on experience. While the experience varies with each craft, you can expect to spend time learning specific skills that you will use on a day-to-day basis in your future career.
“For many apprentices, working with their hands is more fun than taking notes on a textbook,” said Mary Stuart, associate director of the Construction Careers Foundation. “When classroom learning is paired with real-life experiences, retention of skills improves, and an apprentice can feel confident knowing their education is being reinforced by practical applications.”
According to the Department of Labor, apprenticeships typically last about four years and workers usually become full employees upon completion of the program.
2. START MAKING MONEY
Earn as you learn! As you work through an apprenticeship program, you will earn wages while being taught the core competencies of your future career. As you work on real projects and complete work for a company, you will be rewarded for your efforts and work with a paycheck.
“Starting an apprenticeship right after high school puts you ahead of the curve,” Stuart said. “While college students are spending money on supplies and classes to maybe get a job in their prospective career field, apprentices are already making money and establishing themselves in a skilled craft career.”
3. LOW RISK, HIGH REWARD CAREER EXPLORATION
Many of Minnesota’s apprenticeship programs are less than $2,000 per year. Apprenticeship programs may also offer scholarships and discounts on equipment – some unions even reimburse the apprentice for his/her cost after they graduate and become a journey worker.
“Spending less in the beginning stages of your career sets you up for a successful future, with less barriers because of debt,” Stuart said. “Match little to no debt with the opportunity to start making money early, and craft professionals are saving, buying homes and putting money away for retirement well before many college students.”
Additionally, with a low-risk model like apprenticeships, young people can search for their true passion.
“If you start a welding apprenticeship, and through hands-on experience and training you find out it isn’t your thing – no problem,” Stuart said. “The only way to find your niche and passion is to get out there and try it. Through the apprenticeship model, you can explore your interests without investing thousands of dollars into a single career path.”
4. A NETWORK OF PROFESSIONALS
“When doing an apprenticeship, you are working with skilled craft professionals who have been in the field for a long time,” Stuart said. “Through working with them and learning from them, you are guaranteed to learn an incredible amount of information from a variety of different craftspeople.”
Not only does this ensure that you are learning in the most immersive and detailed way possible, but it gives you a network that you can tap into for the rest of your career. The construction industry is well connected across the country. By having a network of professionals to vouch for you and help you find new opportunities, an apprentice has the flexibility to relocate, travel or grow within their career.
START YOUR APPRENTICESHIP
With a growing demand for skills in the construction industry, there’s never been a better time to consider becoming an apprentice.
High school graduates have plenty of good postsecondary options from which to choose. The Construction Careers Foundation is focused on helping young adults become aware of the invaluable post-high school options that are available to students who are open to pursuing a career in one of more than 30 careers in the building and construction trades.
If students have questions about apprenticeship opportunities or want to be connected with a representative for more information, fill out our interest form.