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How to Get an Apprenticeship in the Construction Trades and Start Your Career

Follow these six steps to secure an apprenticeship in the construction and building trades.

Do you know a student who learns by creating, inventing or working with their hands? How about a student who prefers to be active in the classroom?

As students in your school reach senior year, have any expressed to their nervousness about what’s next after high school? Especially if they know college isn’t the right fit?

Students depend on their teachers, guidance counselors, athletic coaches, and principals to provide them with insight and offer options they should consider.

The Twin Cities-based nonprofit Construction Careers Foundation’s goal is to support Minnesota’s educators with construction career resources that they, in turn, can use to inspire and prepare Minnesota’s next generation of construction professionals.

Skills learned in the construction trades can be used for a lifetime. Young apprentices quickly learn their skills have applications outside of work and can be used at home and in the community. (Photo Credit: Emily Sweeney)

Consider these five steps to help educate your students on the apprenticeship process.

1. PICK A TRADE!
Which trade best fits a student’s personality and skill set? The Construction Careers Foundation makes it easy to explore careers in construction. Find detailed descriptions about more than 30 construction careers here.

“The Careers page is a comprehensive list of the trades and training that Minnesota’s construction trades industry has to offer,” said Sarah Lechowich, senior director for the Construction Careers Foundation. “We encourage students to read through the descriptions of each trade apprenticeship, watch videos of real construction professionals, and compare wages and benefits as they choose a path that meets their interests and needs.”

2. START THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Once you know which trades you’re most interested in, Construction Careers Foundation will help you contact the appropriate construction and building trades union training centers and start the application process. Sign up for career opportunities and updates here.

Alternatively, students can also resource the Construction Trades app, available for download on Apple and Google Play stores.

For immediate questions on specific apprenticeship applications, students can resource Minnesota training centers’ contact information found on the Careers page.

3. BE PREPARED
Need help getting through the necessary requirements? We’re here for you! At the top of each Career profile is a list of requirements for the job. Some examples of frequently required items are: must be 18 years old or older, have a valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, and in some cases, successfully pass an aptitude test administered by the trade union to which you’re applying. The Career page at ConstructionCareers.org also includes links to aptitude test resources and how to schedule your test.

4. MAKING CONTACT
In general, Minnesota’s construction and building trade unions offer two paths to enter an apprenticeship program: some unions require that you first be hired by a construction company first before entering its apprenticeship program. Other unions require that you apply to them first. Your next step is to contact the trade unions that you’re most interested in starting a career to find out. If a union requires you to be hired by a contractor, they typically will offer you a list of contractors that you can apply to.

5. INTERVIEW
Whether you need to apply to a contractor first or a trade union, the next step is a face-to-face interview. Based on this interview, you will be hired by either a contractor or the trade union and then begin to work. Yes, you’ll begin to work immediately. You’ll earn a wage while you start to learn the trade under the watchful eyes of a journeyperson – a construction professional with a number of years experience. At the same time, you’ll start to receive hands-on and classroom training through the trade union’s training center.

6. GETTING PAID
As a member of a Minnesota construction and building trade union, you will begin earning a union wage – while learning your craft. Some trades have apprenticeship programs that go as little as two to three years. Some licensed trades have apprenticeships that go five years. During that entire time, you’re getting paid to learn. In addition, you’ll have health and dental insurance and you’ll begin to earn hours toward a union pension. As you gain experience, your hourly wage will go up, based on a union wage scale.

Students who are at least 18 years old and have earned their high school diploma or GED can begin the application process for a building trades apprenticeship through Constructioncareers.org today.