About Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship: Building Oregon’s Future

Apprenticeship is occupational training that combines on-the-job experience with classroom instruction. Industry and individual employers design and control the training programs, and pay apprentices’ wages.

There are 116 different occupations in Oregon that include apprenticeships to train workers. Each apprenticeship is an opportunity to earn money while learning new skills.

Many different organizations make apprenticeship possible in the State of Oregon, including employers, labor organizations, the Bureau of Labor and Industries´ Apprenticeship and Training Division, and schools.

Who designs and implements apprenticeship programs?

Apprenticeship programs are designed and implemented by local apprenticeship committees. Made up of employer and employee representatives, committees decide current and future training needs and develop guidelines for programs. Employers may participate in an on-going committee or they may organize a committee for a new apprenticeship program.

How is the State of Oregon involved in Apprenticeship?

The role of the State of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Apprenticeship and Training Division is to promote apprenticeship in a variety of occupations and trades and to work with business, labor, government and educational institutions to increase training and employment opportunities in apprenticeship occupations.

How do I find out about current apprenticeship openings?

Applicants can find apprenticeship opening announcements in a variety of ways:

  • Visit the Trade Locator and Career Guide page on this website. This page provides a brief description of each construction trade, along with links to the specific State of Oregon Apprenticeship web pages which list apprenticeship opportunities and current openings.
  • Visit local schools and community colleges and their websites.
  • Visit the Oregon Employment Department offices and website.
  • Check local newspapers and community organizations.


What occupations are available?

There are over 40 trades in construction available.  Visit the Trade Locator and Career Guide page on this website to check out the  wide variety of opportunities.

Not all programs are available in every part of the state.  The variety of available occupations depends on local industry needs.

How long does it take to become an apprentice?

The waiting period, from the date an application is filed, to placement in an apprenticeship program, varies by industry and can last from two weeks to two years.

The apprenticeship committee reviews applications to make sure applicants meet the minimum occupational requirements and may schedule an interview or examination.

If an applicant is qualified and selected to join the apprenticeship program, he or she is placed on a qualified list. Employers use this list to fill apprenticeship vacancies as they become available.

Are apprentices required to attend school?

Apprentices are required to attend approximately 144 hours of school per year. This usually works out to one or two evenings per week during the regular school year.

Apprentices can earn credit towards an associate degree at a community college for classroom hours and for the completion of an apprenticeship program.

What are the minimum educational requirements for apprenticeship?

Most apprenticeship programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED certificate.  Some occupations require specific subjects such as algebra, blueprint reading, or related shop work.

How much pay does an apprentice make?

Although it varies by industry, the average starting wage of an apprentice is about 50 percent of a journey-person’s rate of pay.  Apprentices are usually given a five percent raise every six months if their on-the-job-training and school attendance is satisfactory.

Are there age limitations for apprentices?

Each industry establishes its own minimum age requirement, although the typical minimum age required is 18.

Can I expect steady work as an apprentice?

An apprentice works as steadily as the average industry worker does.  And, like fellow workers, an apprentice can be subject to industry layoffs.  Most employers make an effort to have the apprentice work as steadily as possible.

How long will my apprenticeship last?

Typically, apprenticeships last two to four years depending upon industry requirements.

Key Benefits of Apprenticeship

Want a successful career? Want to further your education without racking up debt? Get started on your path to a successful career and enroll in a Registered Apprenticeship program.

With Registered Apprenticeship you receive:

  • A paycheck:
    From day one, you will earn a paycheck guaranteed to increase over time as you learn new skills.
  • Hands-on career training:
    As an apprentice, you will receive practical on-the-job training in a wide selection of programs.
  • An education:
    You’ll receive hands-on training and have the potential to earn college credit, even an associate or bachelor’s degree, in many cases paid for by your employer.
  • A career:
    Once you complete your apprenticeship, you will be on your way to a successful long-term career with a competitive salary, and little or no educational debt.
  • National industry certification:
    When you graduate from a career training program, you’ll be certified and can take your certification anywhere in the U.S.


Training Tomorrow’s Workforce Today: Apprenticeship and Community Colleges

Partnerships between apprenticeship programs and community colleges in Oregon help augment the skills of Oregon’s workers while improving their prospects of finding rewarding long-term careers.

Most apprenticeship programs now provide apprentices with the opportunity to earn college credits for completed academic courses and on-the-job training. College instruction can lead to an AA degree in the apprentice’s chosen career.

The sidebar at right provides links to more information about obtaining college credits through apprenticeship.

Classroom Instruction and Pre-apprenticeship

In addition to community colleges, many organizations in Oregon help workers develop the skills needed to compete more effectively in today’s job market by offering pre-apprenticeship classroom instruction. This classroom instruction is designed to teach the basic skills needed in order to complete an apprenticeship program.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are offered through the State Department of Education, local school districts, and various non-profit organizations. Examples of subject matter taught through pre-apprenticeship programs includes advanced mathematics, basic and advanced electronics, theory, and classroom experience with industry machinery and equipment.

Visit the BOLI website for a list of OSATC-approved pre-apprenticeship programs in Oregon.

Is apprenticeship right for you?

Apprenticeship requires hard work and commitment to succeed

As an apprentice you can look forward to good pay, benefits, and the start of a long-term career. But is it right for you? An apprenticeship is not a way to get rich quick – you need to commit to three to four years of on-the-job training and hundreds of hours of classroom time. You will be well-paid, but it takes hard work and patience to complete your apprenticeship and earn your journey card.

Apprenticeship can be both physically and mentally demanding

Working in the construction trades is demanding. You need to be dependable, have a thick skin, and be able to push yourself both mentally and physically. Will you show up to work on time, every day? Can you take instruction and criticism without getting offended? Will you work long hours when the job requires it? Your answer should be YES to all of these questions!

Apprenticeship is an investment of time and money: yours and your employer’s

Remember, your employer will be investing time and money in you, teaching you the skills and knowledge you’ll be using for years to come. Your journey card will be recognized all over the US and in many countries throughout the world. In exchange for all of that, you’ll be expected to take your apprenticeship seriously and make it a priority.

Once you do earn your journey card, you’ll be joining a long line of tradesmen and women who take pride in what they do. And as you continue on with your career, you’ll see there are many opportunities for advancement and specialization. Many journey-level trades people eventually become foremen, builders, planners, designers, managers, instructors, or business owners. An entire world can open up – and it all begins with apprenticeship!

Are you up for the challenge?

Take the questionnaire (see the sidebar at right) and find out how you score on nine basic questions. Then visit the “Get started on the path to apprenticeship” page to learn more about how to get started in apprenticeship

Getting into an apprenticeship is a Multi-step process

Getting into an apprenticeship is a multi-step process, but it’s worth the effort for a fulfilling career. This page is going to break down the steps from beginning to end. It will explain the process, guide you on how to best prepare, and then put you in touch with the right people in the apprenticeship community.

The flow chart to the right shows the steps “at-a-glance.” Below is a summary, followed by a more detailed explanation of each step.

Step 1: decide on a trade

So what do you want to do? Visit the Trade Locator page on this website to learn more about the different types of construction trades in Oregon. You can also do a web search on the type of construction trade you’re interested in to get more in depth information about it. If you know anybody who works in that trade, talk to him or her. Apprenticeship centers will each focus on a particular trade, so they are also a good source of information.

Here are some things to think about when you’re trying to decide on a trade:

  • Does the idea of it excite you? You need to be motivated by more than just a paycheck to stick with an apprenticeship. So pick something you’ll really like doing.
  • Is it year-round work or seasonal?
  • What is the wage scale?
  • Will you need to travel to remote sites to find work, or will there be work available near where you live?
  • Will the type of work you’ll be doing keep your interest day in and day out?
  • If your chosen trade requires you to work outdoors a lot, regardless of the weather conditions, will that be a problem for you?
  • Do you enjoy solving problems and using math and logic skills?

These are just a few of the things to consider when choosing a trade. Each trade will require a unique set of skills and requirements. There is no right or wrong trade to get into – just think about what will be a good fit for you.

Step 2: locate an apprenticeship program

Finding an apprenticeship program or training center in your area requires doing a bit of research about what is available in your area. The Trade Locator page on this website is a great place to start. Each construction trade summary listed on that page also includes a link to a corresponding apprenticeship trade page on the State of Oregon Apprenticeship website. Once on the State of Oregon’s Apprenticeship trade page, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of current apprenticeship opportunities and contacts.

Step 3: contact the apprenticeship program for requirements

Once you have identified an apprenticeship program to apply for, call, email, or stop by their offices to get minimum requirements and application dates. Ask about upcoming orientations, and be sure to attend them.

If you’re ready to apply, then go for it! However, some programs don’t accept applications year-round. If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged. If you have to wait a few weeks or months to apply, you can use that time to make yourself an even better candidate! Improve your math, writing, and interviewing skills; get more hands-on experience, even if it just means working on projects at your own house or that of a friend. Take this time to learn all that you can about the trade you’re interested in.

Do you need help meeting the requirements?

If you feel confident about submitting your application, go on ahead to Step 4 (Apply to the Apprenticeship Program). Otherwise, think about what areas you need help with.

Did you take the apprenticeship readiness survey? If so, how did you score? If you scored 40 or less, skip to Step 5.

Step 4: apply for an apprenticeship

Apprenticeship programs usually take applications at specific times – usually a particular week or month or period of months. These are called “open dates.”

Use our Trade Locator to check for open dates for your trade, or call the person listed as the key contact at the apprenticeship program you’re interested in. Keep in mind also that you might have to wait a while to apply, depending on how much work is available in the trade you want to enter.

After you fill out your application and submit it, it will be reviewed by an apprenticeship committee, and if you meet the program’s minimum requirements you will be accepted into an applicant pool.  Most programs use a ranked list using scores earned by providing additional documentation, participating in an interview, or taking an assessment.  Each program is different so it is important to contact the program administrator for more information.

Once all of this is done, you’ll be given a score by the committee. This score is used to rank you against other applicants. The higher you rank, the better your chances of being called in when new workers are needed. Once you’re called in and start your first job – you’re an apprentice! Congratulations and Good Luck!

Step 5: locate a pre-apprenticeship program or community college

Do you need to get your ducks all in a row before you can apply? Now is the time to get started! There are resources to help you with that, as well as things you can do on your own. Also, if you scored less than a 40 on the apprenticeship readiness survey, read this step carefully. When you apply for an apprenticeship, you’ll want to put your best foot forward!

Pre-apprenticeship programs exist to make you a better candidate when you go to apply for an apprenticeship. They can assist you with the skills you need to improve on like math, and they can provide you with opportunities to work with tools and learn construction skills. They can help guide you through the resume and interview processes and give you a heads-up on what to expect as an apprentice and tradesperson. They will also expose you to many different career options. For example, you might take field trips with your class to shops, union halls, and construction projects.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are almost always free, and they are stretched out over several weeks or months, so that you can continue to work at your current job, or go to school part-time.

Oregon community colleges: another gateway to apprenticeship

Contact your area community college and ask them about their apprenticeship and trades-related programs. If you don’t have a high school diploma or GED, you’ll want to sign up for tests or prep classes. If you need to brush up on your algebra, science, or writing skills – or take a placement test – community colleges are a great resource! They also often have information on the different trades and can provide contacts within the apprenticeship programs.

Other things to consider

There are other things you’ll want to consider before you apply for an apprenticeship. If you can’t drive or don’t have reliable transportation, now is the time to get your license and come up with a plan for buying or repairing a vehicle so that you can get to job sites on time. Also, make sure you have a dedicated phone line so that you can receive calls about new work from the dispatcher.

Good physical fitness will help you succeed on the job

If you need to improve your physical fitness, start working out at the gym, take up running or hiking, and get as active as possible. You don’t need to be a body builder or professional athlete to work in the trades, but most trades will require you to be able to lift and carry about 50 pounds and be on your feet for long periods of time. Specific trades might require you to stoop a lot, crawl around on your knees a lot, or be able to pull yourself up structures like poles, trees and scaffolding. Focus on building strength, endurance and flexibility. No matter what your age or gender, this is important – construction is hard on your body, whether you’re setting tile floors in a new bathroom or setting beams in a new high-rise. Get comfortable with your body and be aware of your physical capabilities.

Get your life in order

Lastly, if you are having problems in your household or personal life, take care of those issues. The construction industry is driven by deadlines, which is why attendance and punctuality are crucial to your success. If you are taking care of children or other relatives, you will need to make dependable arrangements for them so that you can be at work each day that you’re called out. Also keep in mind that it’s not advisable to have a second job while you’re in an apprenticeship program. If you do attempt this, know that the apprenticeship will take priority. If you smooth out some of the trouble spots in your life now, you’ll be able to focus on your job and classes – and when you’re off the job, you can enjoy your days off that much more.

Step 6: contact the pre-apprenticeship program for information

The people in pre-apprenticeships and community college trades programs know a lot about the trades. Feel free to ask them any questions you have about preparing for an apprenticeship. They are a great resource – use them!

Step 7: sign up for the program

Signing up for a pre-apprenticeship usually involves an orientation and bringing in some paperwork- make sure to follow through. If you’re registering for courses at a community college, call ahead to make sure you’ll know when their testing facilities are open and when their registration begins. Don’t miss the deadlines. These things may feel tedious, but they are necessary to get the ball rolling.

Step 8: complete the program

Congratulations! Once you have received your certificate of completion from a pre-apprenticeship program, stay in contact with your instructors or counselors there – they want to see you succeed! And they will be able to give you a heads up on job opportunities and apprenticeship openings. Having a good relationship with them can only help you.

If you’ve gotten your GED or completed training or testing at a community college, make sure to update your work history, and stay up to date on openings. Now you are ready to apply! (See Step 4: Apply!)

Equal Opportunity

In the age of the Technological revolution, it is now more critical than ever that workers be prepared to compete in the marketplace of the future

Ken Bello, project manager at Walsh Construction Walsh Construction’s Ken Bello on earning a living wage in Oregon
“Trade apprenticeships offer an opportunity for young men and women to acquire the training and skills that will surely be required to earn a true living wage.

“I experienced firsthand a real world insight on how apprentice training changes lives. A few years ago, I met a young African American man named Terence. He was fresh out of high school; Jefferson High to be precise.

“Like many young minority high school graduates, college was not an option for Terence. Drifting from one dead end job to the next, he eventually found work at Walsh construction as a laborer. This was his first exposure to a professional work environment that demanded discipline, punctuality and dependency.

“Terence and I became fast friends. It was readily apparent that he was a very bright young man with a positive attitude towards life. However, he and I realized that as an unskilled laborer, he did not have the skills to advance beyond his then current position. His options were limited.

“He expressed his frustration. I said to him, ‘Terence, you need to get some skills. That’s the only way to reach your potential.’

“After researching various trades, Terence decided to join the plumbers apprentice program. In about four years, he graduated as a journeyman plumber.

“Today, as a skilled worker in a high-demand trade, Terence earns well over 3 times the yearly income of young African American males his age. He is now able to provide well for his family. I am convinced beyond a doubt that apprenticeship programs offer an achievable option for men and women in our community to fully enjoy a fulfilling career.”

Walsh Construction company logo

Ken Bello, project manager
Walsh Construction Co.

Committed to providing opportunities for women and people of color to grow and excel in their craft of choice

Hoffman apprentice Michelle Miller gets some help from a jobsite supervisorApprentice Michelle Miller works out a tricky connection at a Hoffman jobsite
“At Hoffman Construction, we want our projects to reflect the diversity of our community. That’s why we are committed to providing opportunities for women and people of color — not only to grow, but to excel in their craft of choice.

“This commitment includes providing safe, welcoming jobsites, formal and informal mentoring programs, and support for pre-apprenticeship programs that target minority and historically disadvantaged populations.

“Hoffman is always looking for talented, hard-working people who like to be outside, working with their hands. Whether we are building a world-class laboratory for healing and discovery, a brand new sports stadium, or a condo tower — we need a skilled and educated workforce.”

Hoffman Construction company logo

Bart Eberwein, Business Development & Public Affairs, Hoffman Construction

process of getting into an apprenticeship program
Copyright 2015 Oregon Apprenticeship