By: Amanda Pedersen
St. Paul resident, Louis Rojas, 41, was not content with his desk job as a warehouse manager and was looking for a new career with better pay and benefits.
One of his good friends, who is currently a carpenter, suggested that Rojas go to the local union center to learn about career options in the trades.
Rojas took his friend’s advice and attended a union information class. After the class, he applied for a carpentry apprenticeship.
“Applying for an apprenticeship is actually really easy,” said Rojas. “I went down to the union center in St. Paul and the union employees were happy to help me through the application process.”
Rojas is now a third-year apprentice with the Carpenters Local Union 322 in St. Paul. He is looking forward to moving up to journeyperson status when he completes his apprenticeship in six months.
“I remember being nervous on my first day, going from a desk job to construction,” Rojas recalled. “But the other carpenters and foremen took the time and were happy to teach me the carpentry process.”
Perfect Career Fit with Carpentry
Carpenters do many jobs in the construction process. They usually work in five different areas, including wood framing, interior systems, concrete work, exterior finish and interior finish.
Rojas is currently an apprentice at a construction firm that does mostly commercial work in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
“Everyday on the job I’m doing something different than I did the day before,” Rojas said. “One day I can be building a wall in a condominium, and the next day working on a parking ramp on the opposite side of town.”
Rojas said he always felt that he had carpentry in his blood. From a young age, he had enjoyed working with his hands and solving complex problems.
“I enjoy the complicated projects when it comes to working in carpentry,” Rojas said. “The learning process of hands-on work comes naturally to me.”
No college debt. No regrets. Listen to Louis Rojas’ construction career experience.
At Rojas’ apprenticeship, he works 40 hours a week and attends class at the union training center to learn new skills and techniques.
“Being a union apprenticeship is awesome because they literally give you free training for four years,” Rojas said. “They give you the skills to become a great carpenter.”
Along with paid training through apprenticeship, Carpenters Local Union 322 also provides benefits such as health and dental insurance and a pension.
“The union allows you to live a good life and provide for your family,” Rojas said. “I’ve gotten everything out of being a part of a union. It’s more like a brother/sisterhood — there is someone there to listen and help you. They really have your back.”
Interested in a Career in the Construction Trades?
“Becoming a union carpenter has changed my life in so many ways,” Rojas said. “You learn valuable lessons in craftsmanship through the guidance of knowledgeable carpentry professionals who work right next to you.”
“If I was going to give advice to a young person considering starting a career as an apprentice in the construction trades, I would tell them to do their homework,” Rojas said. “Look at your passions in life. If you like staying active and working with your hands, check out an apprenticeship through a union!”
Are you or someone you know interested in more information about becoming a union carpenter? Check out https://constructioncareers.org/careers/carpenters/, the source for careers in construction!