Frequently Asked Questions
Question: When will I hear back from an Apprenticeship Training Center about my status?
Answer: There are 19 skilled trade’s apprenticeship training programs. Each apprenticeship program has a different process. Go to the Construction Careers tab and click the Skilled Trades drop down to learn about each skilled trades application process and how to apply.
Question: What does it mean when it says, I need a “Letter of Intent” to be hired?
Answer: Of the 19 skilled trades 9, (Bricklayers Local 1, Construction Craft Laborers, Carpenters, Cement Masons Local 527, Plasterers Local 3, Floorlayers Local 1310, Roofers Local 2, Glaziers Local 513 and Tilesetters Local 18) require a letter from a signatory contractor indicating that you have been hired. That letter indicates you are hired; however, it doesn’t mean you are automatically enrolled in an apprenticeship program. The hiring company should be able to explain the process of being referred to an apprenticeship training program.
Question: What does it mean when it says, “I need to apply online or at the Local Union Hall to enroll in the Apprenticeship Program”?
Answer: Of the 19 skilled trades there are 10 (Boilermakers Local 27, Electricians Local 1, Elevator Constructors Local 3, Heat and Frost Insulators, Ironworkers Local 396, Operating Engineers Local 513, Plumbers Local 562, Pipefitters Local 562 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 36) which require the interested apprentice to either go online or come in person to complete the application. Go to the Construction Careers tab and click the Skilled Trades drop down to learn about each skilled trades application process and what documents to have on hand when applying.
Question: Will I earn any College credits while attending a Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Training program?
Answer: Many of the Skilled Trades Apprenticeship programs have a partnership with local Community Colleges and the apprentice may be able to earn anywhere between 30 – 45 credit hours. These credit hours could lead to an Associated Degree in Applied Science. There is typically no cost to you to earn these credits. If the union you are applying for has such degree credit arrangements, make sure that you understand the rules.
Question: What does it mean to be “placed on the list”?
Answer: The number of apprenticeship classes that any trade will start each year varies based on teacher/classroom resources of that union, and on the demand for apprentices from their signatory contractors. “The list” is the people who are waiting for a position in a class. Ask how many people are on the list and how many are in a starting apprenticeship group. Also, ask if there is work experience or other things that you can do that might improve your position on “the list”.
Question: Is it necessary that I have work experience in the construction industry, before I apply or get hired by a construction company?
Answer: Most apprenticeship training programs and hiring companies will not require work experience in the construction field, especially if you are a new graduate. However, having a job (any job, not just in construction) listed on your application shows to the potential company or training center that you have experience in showing up on time, working as a team member, dealing with other personalities and individuals, and more importantly understanding aspects of working for and with others. The more closely related the skills in your job are to construction (working for a home repair company, holding a Commercial Driver’s License) the more potential you have to be hired.
Question: There are other apprenticeship training programs offered in our Region. Why is it more valuable to be enrolled or accepted into a joint apprenticeship training program that is connected with a Union?
Answer: A union apprenticeship training program has many more protective factors for you as an apprentice. Not only are you being paid the same wage and coverage as your peer that started the same time in the program, but you are also earning health and welfare benefits, a pension and vacation holiday pay while learning. The union will advocate for you, making sure you are treated fairly on the job, that you are trained properly to be productive and not get hurt, and that your work environment is safe.
Question: How often will I move from job to job?
Answer: This is where it pays to be productive and proactive. If you have demonstrated productivity and a positive attitude on the job, your contractor will want to keep you as part of their “core” crew, moving you on to other projects. But every contractor has dry spells: Being proactive with your union involvement, with your supervisors, and your co-workers can connect you with new and even better work. Pay attention to what work the contractors are winning that matches the skills you have learned. Your union may have a “hiring hall” that assigns laid off workers to contractors. Make sure that you know how seniority on their referral “list” works.
Question: What does it mean when someone says that the “construction industry is a seasonal profession and you need to know how to manage your money”?
Answer: The St. Louis Region is known for extreme weather. Rain, snow, and extreme heat can slow or postpone work. When you as an apprentice are not working, you typically would not be paid a wage. Some unions try to address this to some degree by keeping apprentices busy. For example, the cement masons schedule classes indoors during winter. Material delivery delays or waiting for other work to be completed so that your work can be done can also cause you to be laid off. Sometimes, even when your employer wants to move you to another project at the job’s completion, delays in starting that project would mean you not work for a period. You must recognize that setting aside funds when you are working to pay your living expenses during layoffs is critical.
Question: When do I “journey” out and become “journey” level tradesperson?
Answer: Just as there are different processes to be accepted into a skilled trade apprenticeship program, there are different requirements to “journey” out in your trade. The term “journey” out in theory means when an apprentice has completed ALL of the classroom coursework/hours and ALL of the on-the-job training hours. It is important to work closely with your Apprenticeship Training director so you can stay on top of the classroom courses and hours needed to be on the job site in training.
Question: What do I do if I get “laid-off” from a job?
Answer: First, when you have work you should always be “looking” for work in the event that you are laid off. If your union has a “hiring hall” make sure that you report to the hall immediately. Find out what your position is on the “bench” of laid off workers. Layoffs in construction WILL happen to you during your career. If you have demonstrated skill and productivity in your time on the job and have built relationships with your co-workers and supervisors, they may be able to tell you what employers are looking for in people. Also – even when things are going well you should be paying attention to which contractors who do what you do are busy and have a good reputation. Build your network of fellow union members and others who might be able to give you a referral.