Construction Apprentices Share the Value of Launching a Career in the Construction Trades
In 2021, more than 20 million people quit their jobs in search of a new career. People are looking for careers that are more in tune with their lifestyle, life passions, and offer better pay and better benefits.
If you’re a high school senior exploring your next steps after graduation, a construction apprenticeship might be the best next step for you. A registered apprenticeship with one of Minnesota’s construction trades offers the training, mentorship and wages and benefits to help young people seamlessly enter a new career and make a long-lasting impact on the world around them.
Apprenticeship is an Equitable Pathway
Apprenticeship is an earn-while-you-learn system. This means you can step in on the first day of an apprenticeship coming from any background, and with no prior experience, and get paid a competitive wage to learn a skill.
Different trades have different requirements for joining, but the majority only require that an applicant is at least 18 years of age, has a valid driver’s license, can legally work in the U.S., has a high school diploma or GED, is physically fit for the job, and is reasonably proficient in reading and math (for communication on a jobsite).
How physically fit an apprentice needs to be is trade specific. Some trades require hefty physical movement and lifting, and others, none. Individuals looking to work in a trade can choose a trade that best fits their individual personality and desired amount of physical demand (or lack thereof) in a job.
Construction unions understand that an apprentice’s work is valuable and pay them as such. Most unions typically have a pre-set wage scale, so you can see how your wage will grow along with your skillset.
If you’re ready and willing to get your hands dirty and learn a skill, anyone can thrive in a construction apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are Hands-On
An apprenticeship allows students who prefer hands-on work to lectures or studying at a desk, to excel at the strengths they already have, rather than molding to a learning format that isn’t right for them.
According to an article from Business Insider, the majority of high school dropouts left school because they didn’t feel that school was relevant to their lives, they were failing too many classes, or they were bored in class.
Being in the wrong learning environment can make bright students feel hopeless and drained, a feeling that Annesa Loew, an oiler with the IUOE, knows all too well.
“In high school and college, lectures and memorizing were boring to me. They never made me feel excited about school or motivated in class,” Loew said. “It made me realize I don’t want a job where I sit at a computer all day.”
An Operating Engineer Apprentice with IUOE Local 139 Wisconsin Operating Engineers, Loew performs meaningful work that she excels at. She comes home each night feeling fulfilled, and proud of herself and her talents.
“Some students end up thinking they aren’t good at school just because they don’t learn the same way as their friends, but there’s so much opportunity out there for people who prefer hands-on, project-based work,” added Loew.
Apprenticeships Lead to Rewarding Careers
As a construction apprentice, there’s no waiting period. You begin making a difference in your community starting day one of the job.
“You’re not just holding a shovel. You are building America,” said Erica Crosby, a pile driver apprentice with Pile Drivers Local 1847. “The mindset you have to go into an apprenticeship is: ‘I’m keeping people safe. What I’m doing is building a structure that’s going to be there for the next hundred years, and I cannot have the measurements off.’ It takes a lot of dedication.”
Many times, the projects a construction worker builds will outlive them. The hospitals, stadiums, office buildings, and classrooms that you build with your very own hands will serve the communities they stand in for decades to come.
“Do you know how cool it is to drive around Minnesota and think, ‘I built that?’” said Crosby. “It is the best feeling ever.”
You Will Learn a Lifelong Skill
Apprenticeship is the leading pathway to learn a skill relevant to the construction industry. From metal welding, heavy equipment operation, blueprint reading and execution, and so much more, construction professionals truly are skilled workers.
The jobs you complete as an apprentice or journey worker are not throw-away tasks. They will require your individual technical expertise, diligence, and artistry to complete. When a project is done, you get to drive by the highway, building, or bridge that you built for the rest of your life.
Apprentices can also apply the skills they learn on the job to their own life. First and Last Name, an electrical apprentice with Local 292 dreams of using her newfound knowledge to build her own hobby farm one day.
“I really want to work on a solar farm project and see how that works, because a dream of mine is to have my own hobby farm that runs entirely on clean energy,” said Atkins. “The ultimate goal I feel is to build a life that I want. With this career, I’m going to be able to have a hobby farm, and my own lake property, and when things need to be fixed, I can do it on my own.”
You Will be Part of a Team
In a construction apprenticeship with a union, you won’t just be one in a sea of many, like how you might feel in a lecture hall or office cubicle. The individual value you bring to the job site is seen and understood by your fellow construction professionals.
By joining a local union, you will be part of a brother and sisterhood that will stick with you throughout your whole career.
“When you go to meetings, everyone calls you brother or sister,” said Kinsey Neal, an ironworker apprentice with Local 512. “The camaraderie and bond you have as construction professionals creates a supportive work environment for people of every background.”
Construction professionals take pride in the skills they have gained and look forward to passing on their knowledge to the next generation. This makes for a great mentorship environment if you are just starting out.
Your team wants you to succeed and will do whatever they can to help you get to where you want to be.
There are Plenty of Opportunities to Join
The Minnesotan construction industry is booming, and there is no lack of jobs available for those who want them.
According to a recent CBS news article, there are more than 350,000 construction jobs available nationwide. An additional report by MN DEED reports that construction in Minnesota is projected to grow 8.9% by 2026.
Minnesota is growing and needs hard workers to make that happen. This level of opportunity not only provides job security for construction professionals but also means that your work as an apprentice is valued.
As a valued worker, a construction trades union may even provide you with signing bonuses, flexible hours, moving expenses if applicable, or even school tuition if you want to further your education.
“You feel very needed,” said Morgan Atkins, an electrical apprentice with Local 292. “We’re building our communities and our cities up bigger and stronger. I don’t see any future where you wouldn’t need construction professionals.”
Begin Your Career in Construction Today
The Construction Careers Foundation is the leading educational resource for construction apprenticeships in Minnesota. Visit ConstructionCareers.org for more information regarding construction trades, apprenticeships, and more.
Looking for guidance, or advice about a construction apprenticeship? Contact Sam Ebute, Trades Navigator at CCF at email@example.com for personalized support from a professional.