Join Bridget Quinn for an in-depth discussion in this video First steps: Doing your research, part of Skilled Trades: Construction Apprenticeship Foundations.
- So before you choose a trade, it's important to do your research to make sure that the trade is something that you're actually going to enjoy for a long time. These are careers, not jobs. While they can offer you a very lucrative income as well as a respectful retirement a happy career is about so much more than the money. If you choose a field that you enjoy work will be something that you look forward to. - The advice that I would give someone looking to get into the building trades whether it's sheet metal or carpentry or masonry or iron working, you know, all of these different trades have their own special niches and so what I would suggest is that person travel to each of these institutes, these places of learning. - Research the industry to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the work environment and the tasks. Think of the research stage as both nuts and bolts and testimonial. The nuts and bolts will have you filling out the downloadable research guide and the testimonial aspect will have you interviewing people who work in the industry. Please see the informational interview document for ideas on what to ask. Your local employment office might have software specifically designed to match your skills and characteristics to a certain trades. Some trades are going to require strong math skills while others may require working from extreme heights or in cramped quarters. Most will involve working in all weather though sometimes some may be less so. It's important to consider that this is something that you will be doing until retirement. Once you have narrowed it down to one or two trades it's time to locate apprenticeship programs in your area. The best first stop to find an apprenticeship is a simple internet search. This will likely land you in the right place. For example, enter a Massachusets apprenticeship programs in the search bar will give you the top hit of becoming an apprentice, mass.gov. You can then follow the website's links to locate apprenticeship programs. The main differences are going to be if the program is Union affiliated or not, what the minimum program requirements are and if they charge any fees, offer college credit and offer job placement. You also may be interested in whether or not they have day school or night school and the duration of the blocks of training. The program's website is a critical source of information. The first question you should get answered is if the program offers any type of public information orientation. An orientation is the best one-stop information shop that you will find. Listen carefully, take notes and write down any questions you still need answered. You will learn about the application process and how the program works, and it may provide you with the opportunity to network with people who work in the field so that you can find out if the trade is a good fit for you. There will be some pre-requisites for the apprenticeship program. Now these typically entail a diploma or a GED and some may have a minimum GPA or GED score requirement. There may be a level of math that you will need to have fulfilled and many require a driver's license and drug test. Most skilled trades have Union and open shop options. Whether or not to join a Labor Union is a personal choice and one that should be made after doing some careful research. It is important to closely follow the steps of the application process. So this is likely going to entail filling out an application during an open application period and having an interview. Some trades may have an aptitude test or a physical test. Be sure to note any required paperwork and deadlines. Many of the Union apprenticeships are funded through the local Union and the Contractor's Association. As they make investments in building their work force they may be full scholarship programs or they may require payment for some items like textbooks. Some apprenticeships are operated through for-profit trade schools or community colleges. As the cost of education rises each year it's important to make note of what your financial obligations will be for which ever program you choose. What your daily life will be like will depend a lot on the structure of the apprenticeship. In some programs apprentices attend school for one day a week while they work the rest of the week while other programs have their apprentices work during the day and take classes at night. Others may have block training where apprentices attend school for a week or more at a time with no work during that block. Whichever structure it is find out if apprentices can college unemployment or a stipend during the time that they miss work to attend school. Some programs will provide job placement for you while others will require you to find a contractor who will sponsor you as an apprentice. The availability of on-the-job training relies heavily on the current economy. When a contractor has a lot of work on the horizon they're going to ramp up hiring of apprentices and journey workers. When the economy slows down so does the construction industry. The construction industry fluctuates with the economy and many apprenticeship curricula will include budget lessons. Now that you've done your research we'll move on to the next topic and talk about how to build your resume and prepare a strong application portfolio.