Contractor Work and Union Apprenticeship: A Step-by-Step Guide

Looking to join a union and get work through a contractor at the same time? Take these simple steps to get started in the right direction.

When applying for an apprenticeship through a union, you may be confronted with a step you might not have been expecting — getting hired by a contractor.

Some Minnesota construction unions require that a contractor hire you prior to beginning your apprenticeship with the trade union. For folks who are entirely new to industry, this can feel like a hard barrier to tackle.

If this feels like a big, confusing step – have no fear. There are a number of support systems in place to help get you on the right track. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to make this happen:

1 – Ask for help.

Entering a new career can be confusing, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Construction Careers Foundation’s Trades Navigator, Charie Gill, is here to assist and direct youth exploring careers in Minnesota’s construction building trades and help them plan and prepare for apprenticeships. Contact Charie Gill at charie.gill@constructioncareers.org to get your questions answered today.

Are you an educator? The Trades Navigator also offers classroom trades presentations to help students become acquainted with a career path in construction. If this sounds like a great fit for any of your students, contact Gill to schedule a trade presentation for your classroom today.

2 – Know where to start.

While some unions provide apprentices with a list of contractors after they apply to the union, others require that you are hired by a contractor prior to submitting an application to the union. For example, the application process for the limited energy technicians statewide energy JATC only begins after a contractor officially hires a candidate.

To figure out which path is required of your chosen trade, contact the Trades Navigator or visit the careers page on www.ConstructionCareers.org.

3 – Get in touch with your union.

Union leaders and training coordinators want to see you succeed. If you have questions about finding work through a contractor while applying for an apprenticeship, it’s always best to get in touch with the training coordinator at the union you want to join.

Find the right contact information under your chosen trade on the careers page on www.ConstructionCareers.org, or ask CCF’s Trades Navigator to help you make the introduction.

4 – Pick a contractor and connect the dots.

Look through the list of contractors provided by your union contact, the Trades Navigator, or your union’s website and start making the connection. The Trades Navigator is here to help you connect with a contractor that’s right for you, but, if you’d like to do some research on your own, look through CCF’s careers page for information on which trades require you to be hired by a contractor and for a list of Minnesota contractors to choose from.

5 – Put your best foot forward.

 Once you start the job, make a great impression by showing up early, lending a helping hand where necessary, and asking questions when they arise. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the people who succeed in the trades are the ones who are willing to learn as they go and ask for help when they need it.

Construction Careers Foundation: Build Your Future

For more resources catered to young people seeking to join a trade, visit www.ConstructionCareers.org.