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!)