For those wondering how to get into construction or how to gain the skills needed to apply for specific roles in this sector, on-the-job training can be a useful stepping stone. Some firms, unions, and other organizations give inexperienced applicants an opportunity to enter the construction trade by working on the job site under the guidance of experienced professionals. The United States Department of Labor facilitates this training through its Registered Apprentice program.
The Registered Apprentice program has origins that go as far back as 1911. After the passage of the National Apprenticeship Act in 1937, federally supported manufacturing, construction, and utilities training initiatives welcomed workers who were ready to build their skills in a practical setting. The Registered Apprentice program was expanded after World War II to health and safety sectors by offering training for firefighters, police officers, and EMTs.
In 2008, the program was again revised to broaden professional training opportunities in more sectors. Today, it connects companies with applicants in agriculture, cybersecurity, education, telecommunications, and more. While the apprenticeship options have been extended, the construction industry remains a strong portion of the program.
As of 2021, Registered Apprentice construction participants numbered 197,421.
Occupation-Based Construction Training Programs
A construction apprenticeship is not just one general program, but instead, a term that refers to different types of training for various occupations. These include bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, painting, sheet metal working, roofing, and many other jobs related to the building, maintenance, restoration, and beatification of structures.
The companies that provide the training will also vary. Instead of being centrally offered by the federal Registered Apprentice program, the program supports employers and organizations that are seeking workers with specific skills and are willing to help applicants build those skills.
The Registered Apprentice program also enables apprenticeship-seekers to identify employers that are offering learn-on-the-job opportunities that lead to a solid career in the construction trade.
How To Become A Construction Worker Through An Apprenticeship
Construction training programs serve as an entry point into a variety of occupations, but applicants will need to carefully consider their career goals to choose an option that will help them foster the right skills. In addition to identifying an occupation, applicants must choose from an apprenticeship or training program that will amount to the right credentials while supporting their present needs.
Some apprenticeships are full-time, entry-level jobs. This means that apprentices earn a paycheck while learning on the job site. Other apprenticeships are a means of gaining credentials or certifications that will make the apprentice a more desirable hire and higher earner.
These apprenticeships may or may not offer a wage. Construction apprenticeships can also be similar to internships, which work in conjunction with academic paths. In the construction industry, education and degree-focused apprenticeships are connected to occupations requiring a two, four, or graduate degree, such as engineering, architecture, and construction management.
The best way to apply for a construction apprenticeship is to use the Registered Apprentice program job finder or reach out to local unions in a specific occupation or field. Like many local construction jobs, apprenticeships may be seasonal and opportunities will typically vary based on the building activity in a specific region.