By: Amanda Pedersen
Do you dream of having a career where everyday you actually wake up and look forward to going to work?
Gabe Fanning, 39, is one of the few people who goes to work and does his dream job everyday.
“For me, my job is pure enjoyment,” Fanning said. “It’s like being able to work in a giant grown-up sandbox everyday.”
Fanning’s dream job? He’s currently a first-year carpenter apprentice through Twin Cities Carpenters Local 322 Union.
“It feels like I’m following my family tradition. I’ve always been surrounded by the construction process,” Fanning said. “My grandfather worked as a cabinet builder, so growing up, I was always in his woodshop helping him build things and learning to use his tools.”
Prior to Fanning’s career as a union apprentice, he did non-union construction work installing granite countertops.
“Working in the construction trades outside of a union is okay,” Fanning said. “But, you have to be okay with working long hours for little money, dealing with high turnover, and receiving little-to-no benefits.”
After installing countertops for a while, Fanning knew he was ready to learn more skills and make more money. So, he did his research and applied to be a carpenter apprenticeship through the Twin Cities Carpenters Local 322 Union.
“When you work in a union, you’re making awesome money while receiving amazing benefits,” Fanning said. “You don’t have anything to worry about financially because you’re getting paid to learn an invaluable skill. The program really sets you apart from non-union workers.”
Fanning’s Introduction to Carpentry through the Local Union 322
Carpenters are an important part of the construction process. They assist in site preparation, build concrete forms and decks, frame walls and roofs, hang interior and exterior walls, install windows, doors, acoustical ceilings, countertops and trim, and install locks, hardware and specialty furniture.
Through his apprenticeship, Fanning is learning from knowledgeable foremen and journey workers with years of carpentry experience.
“The apprenticeship program is designed to take you step-by-step through the carpentry process,” Fanning said. “Along with making you a well-rounded in construction professional, apprenticeships also are a great way to network with others in the construction industry.”
While working full-time as a carpenter apprentice, Fanning has learned many techniques that pertain to the construction process, such as concrete work, siding, framing, and much more.
“I love the comradery of being a union apprentice. You really get close to the people you work with,” Fanning said. “You create real bonds. It really is a brotherhood/sisterhood type of feel.”
Earn good money alongside great people. Listen to Gabe Fanning’s union experience.
In addition to his full-time work week, Fanning attends class at a union training center for four weeks each year.
“We’re learning something new everyday, both in the classroom and on the job,” Fanning said. “You have to be constantly willing to learn new techniques and how to use new tools, or else you’ll be left behind.”
Another favorite aspect of Fanning’s new found career as a union carpenter is being able to work outside.
“I love being able to work outside everyday instead of being cooped up in an office,” Fanning said. “I enjoy the physical aspect of the job. I love being able to stay active.”
Through working as a union apprentice, Fanning also receives important benefits such as health care and a retirement pension.
“There is a level of security that comes with being a union apprentice,” Fanning said. “You’re proud about being able to support yourself and your family through the construction trades.”
Advice to Young People Considering a Career in Construction
“College was never my thing and it wasn’t the learning environment for me,” Fanning said. “I wish I went into the construction trades right after high school. If I were to give a young adult some advice, it would be to look into a career in construction.”
Fanning is currently living his best life as a union apprentice, and you can too.
Are you interested in a career through the construction trades?
Check out more information at https://constructioncareers.org/careers/.