Considering a Career

An apprenticeship is an arrangement where individuals are paid to learn workplace-relevant knowledge and skills on the job site and in the classroom.

An indentured apprenticeship is an apprenticeship where an individual learns a craft from a skilled employer. The individual signs an agreement to work for the employer for a fixed period and receive wage increases at predetermined intervals. Southwest Carpenters Training Fund (SWCTF) apprenticeships are indentured apprenticeships.

The basic program components of an apprenticeship are the following:

  • Business and employer involvement
  • Structured on-the-job training
  • Job-related classroom instruction
  • Pay for training time (on the job and in the classroom)
  • Pay increases for successful skill gains
  • Industry-recognized credentials.

Yes, an apprenticeship is a job. Apprentices start earning pay the first day of their apprenticeship. They earn incremental wage increases as they learn more skills and become better at what they do. The average starting wage for an apprentice is approximately $15 per hour.

Registered apprenticeship training is different from other types of workplace training in that, for registered apprenticeship training:

  • Participants who are newly hired (or already employed) earn wages from employers during training.
  • Programs must meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor (or federally recognized State Apprenticeship Agencies).
  • Programs provide on-the-job learning and job-related technical instruction.
  • On-the-job learning is conducted in the workplace under the direction of one or more of the employer’s personnel.
  • Programs offer worker employer-paid healthcare, dental, vision, vacation and pension benefits.
  • Training results in the apprentice receiving an industry-recognized job credential.

SWCTF apprenticeship programs are registered apprenticeships.

Here are the ways an apprenticeship program benefits those who complete it:

  • From the first day of work, an apprentice receives a paycheck that is guaranteed to increase as his/her training progresses.
  • Apprentices complete a combination of job-related instruction and hands-on training at the job site leading to a nationally recognized credential that is good anywhere in the U.S.
  • SWCTF apprenticeship programs offers workers employer paid healthcare, dental, vision, vacation, and pension benefits.

Pre-apprenticeship is designed to prepare individuals to enroll in and succeed in an apprenticeship program. SWCTF-sponsored pre-apprenticeship programs provide free training aimed at building entry-level skills for diverse populations. The SWCTF offers two pre-apprenticeship programs:

  • B.O.O.T.S.: A four-week training program for women looking to become apprentices in the carpenter construction crafts.
  • Brothers’ Keepers: A program for individuals from disadvantaged groups that provides entry-level skills to prepare job seekers for the carpenter construction crafts.

Carpenter’s and affiliated trades apprenticeship programs are jointly sponsored by the Carpenter unions and contractors who have signed agreements with the Carpenter’s local unions. The SWCTF provides day-to-day operational oversight for the 14 trade programs available in six states.

Apprentices earn competitive wages, a paycheck from their first day in an apprenticeship program and incremental raises as skill levels increase. The average wage for an individual who completes an apprenticeship program and is fully proficient is about $60,000 annually. Individuals who complete an apprenticeship program earn about $300,000 more over their career compared to those who don’t complete a program.

SWCTF apprenticeship programs are from two to five years, depending on the craft being learned.

Apprenticeship program sponsors identify the minimum qualifications to apply for a program. Typically, though, individuals must be:

  • 18 years old to be an apprentice in hazardous occupations
  • Eligible to work legally in the U.S.
  • Capable of performing the physical work required.

No, previous experience is not required. However, any prior documented experience may be noted on an individual’s application for evaluation purposes.

A high school diploma is not required to enter most apprenticeship programs. However, to become a millwright, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to become an indentured apprentice. Currently, there are no required tests to enter SWCTF apprenticeship programs.

In most cases, criminal convictions will not exclude an individual from becoming an apprentice. However, a conviction may prevent an individual from getting certain licenses or credentials required to work on government projects, in airports or in highly regulated industries.

Individuals with disabilities can become an apprentice as long as the individual can meet the minimum requirements of the apprenticeship program.

SWCTF apprenticeship programs are jointly operated by labor (union) and management (employers). While there is no cost to apply for or join an apprenticeship program, there are membership initiation fees and costs to join the union. These costs must be paid at the time of indenture into apprenticeship. They start at $80 but may increase, depending on the period level at which an apprentice joins the union. Other costs include those to purchase basic tools and books required to participate in and complete the apprenticeship program. There is no specific amount to get started, but costs over a career can be thousands of dollars.

Yes. SWCTF apprenticeship programs are open to veterans. Our programs are registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs as approved training facilities. Qualified veterans may apply for and receive direct payment of their VA education benefits for participating in SWCTF apprenticeship programs. When work opportunities are available, veterans may request and receive direct entry into an apprenticeship program by contacting the SWCTF Joint Apprenticeship Committee about a specific craft. To learn more about education and training available under the U.S. Government’s GI bill, visit benefits.va.gov/gibill.

Once an individual is indentured as an apprentice, he/she must purchase basic hand tools for the applicable craft. A list of tools will be provided at the time of indenture. The cost is about $100-$200 to get started, depending on the quality of the tools purchased. Tools are a job site requirement, so an apprentice cannot start a program without basic tools. Generally, books and other materials needed for classroom instruction are paid for by the apprentice. A list of required books and materials are available for each apprentice program and can be purchased as needed. Costs vary by program.

Because training course tuition is paid for by the SWCTF, the SWCTF does not offer training scholarships or financial aid for the cost of tools, books and materials. However, once an apprentice is registered for a program, he/she can apply to the community college affiliated with his/her program to ask about the availability of financial support resources for students.

Yes. An Individual doesn’t need to own a car or drive to become an apprentice. However, to participate in the apprenticeship program, an individual must have a reliable form of transportation to get to job site and classroom training locations. Individuals who don’t keep consistent work hours or classroom training because of transportation issues cannot continue in an apprenticeship program.

Yes. SWCTF works directly with local community colleges to structure each apprenticeship program so that participants earn college credits. Credits are earned each time an apprentice successfully completes a required course. Typically, an apprentice that completes a program earns 18 to 30 units of college credit.

To earn college credits, an apprentice must register and enroll in his/her courses with the relevant community college. Tuition and fees for apprenticeship courses are paid for by the apprenticeship program—there is no cost to the apprentice.

For an individual to complete an apprentice, he/she must complete predetermined training levels called “periods.” Each period has a specific number of on-the-job training hours and related classroom training required to move to the next level. Moving to the next level is called an “upgrade.” It means that the apprentice will advance to the next-level wage increase. The program is successfully completed when an apprentice earns the required total number of on-the-job hours and classroom training. At that point, the apprentice earns “journey worker” status.

After completing an apprenticeship program, the apprentice earns nationally recognized credentials from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the applicable State Agency that oversees his/her trade, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Credentials are portable and stackable. Additionally, an apprentice earns a paycheck throughout the apprenticeship and the potential for increased pay and career advancement opportunities.

To become an apprentice, an individual must apply to an apprenticeship program. Applications are available at all SWCTF training centers and online. A completed apprenticeship application and required documents, including  a sponsor letter if available, must be brought to the nearest training center. Applications are accepted Tuesdays to Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. local time. If an individual has a sponsor letter, he/she may submit an application during the training center’s normal business hours.

No. An individual does not need to find a job to become an apprentice. However, to be considered for an apprenticeship program, the application procedures must be followed for one to be placed on the list of eligible applicants. For individuals who would like to look for a job, a list of union job sites is available at each local union. A contractor may submit a sponsor letter for the apprenticeship committee for selection consideration.

Sponsor letters are submitted by contractors/employers to apprenticeship committees as a recommendation for indenture into an apprenticeship program. Applicants for apprenticeship may visit union job sites and speak to prospective employers about sponsorship.

No. A sponsor letter is not required for application to an apprenticeship program.

SWCTF will accept a request for applicants to train at a specific training center but it cannot guarantee that the request can be met. The SWCTF will do its best to accommodate training center requests.

Construction employers look for traits in employees that help make their projects run smoother. Skills and abilities are important, but so, too, is having the right people on their crews. The SWCTF suggests reviewing brief descriptions of the Carpenters’ crafts and learning about how to join an apprenticeship program.

Currently Enrolled

To view your next your scheduled class, scan your Training Verification Card using a smartphone or tablet QR scanning app. If you do not have a scheduled class, contact your local training center.

If you are unable to attend your scheduled training, you must submit a written request (preferably from your current contractor) explaining the reason for rescheduling. Email your request to your local training center.

If you don’t receive a confirmation that you have been rescheduled for training, continue contacting the training center until you received confirmation of your reschedule to avoid being cited to see the JATC.

You can see how many classes you have left to complete your apprenticeship program by looking at the student master report provided during classes or by contacting your assigned training center to ask for the report.

Yes. You can attend classes when not working if there is space available for walk-ins.

You can see how many work hours you have by looking at the student master reports provided during classes or by contacting your assigned training center to ask for the report.

You can see how many work process hours you have by looking at the student master reports provided during classes or by contacting your assigned training center to ask for the report.

Once you have received the required work hours, provide check stubs as proof of hours to your assigned training center office staff to get your upgrade issued.

No, you cannot pay your union dues to your training center. You must pay your union dues directly to your local union.

Members

A Training Verification Card (TVC) is an ID card provided by the SWCTF that gives you access to your training records from your local training center. The Card also shows your current union dues status. You can scan your card using a smartphone or tablet QR scanning app to check your current or upcoming class schedule and see the certifications you have earned by taking SWCTF courses. If you are a union member, you will receive your TVC after you become an indentured apprenticeship. If you are not yet an indentured apprentice, you will receive your TVC when you become a union member.

You can view all current certifications you have earned through the SWCTF’s programs by scanning your Training Verification Card using a smartphone or tablet QR scanning app. The expiration date of each certification will appear with your scan results.

A scan of your TVC will only display current certifications. If you do not see a specific certification on your card, it may be that your certification expired. Please contact your local training center to verify that your certification is current.

Certifications earned from SWCTF courses give you the skills and authorization to perform the work required for many types of carpentry jobs. Please check with your current contractor to see which certifications are required for your current or potential future jobsite.

If you need a new TVC or need to add your photo to your current TVC, visit your local training center. All training centers can issue a temporary TVC, which will be valid for two weeks. Typically, new cards are delivered within two weeks.

You do not need a new TVC after getting a renewed or new certification. Once you have renewed or completed a certification, it should appear when you scan your current TVC card. It may take up to a week for a renewed or new certification to appear.

To see how many vacation hours you have, contact the Southwest Carpenters Vacation Department at (213) 386-8590 or visit the Carpenters Southwest Administrative Corporation (CSAC) website for more information.

To learn how vacation hours are earned and paid out, contact the Southwest Carpenters Vacation Department at (213) 386-8590 or visit the Carpenters Southwest Administrative Corporation (CSAC) website for more information.

To find out the status of your request for a vacation request form, contact the Southwest Carpenters Vacation Department at (213) 386-8590 or visit the Carpenters Southwest Administrative Corporation (CSAC) website for more information.

Community Partners

Through a proven system of public-private partnerships, apprenticeship program partners include a wide range of organizations, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Businesses, groups of employers, and industry associations
  • Labor and joint labor-management organizations
  • State and local public workforce systems
  • Two- and four-year colleges that offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees
  • Community-based organizations
  • Economic development organizations.

The apprenticeship program strategy enhances workforce performance outcomes and helps businesses thrive by building a highly skilled, highly productive workforce that is available to businesses when they need it. At the same time, it helps job seekers gain entry into and maintain stable careers that offer good wages.

The workforce system can use SWCTF apprenticeship programs as a training strategy in the following ways:

  • Employment: Apprenticeship is a job. All apprentices enter employment when they begin an apprenticeship program.
  • Retention: Apprenticeship programs have high retention rates: 91% of apprentices retain employment after the program ends.
  • Earnings: The average starting wage for apprentices is $15 an hour, with wage increases as apprentices advance in skills and knowledge.
  • Credential attainment: Individuals who complete an apprenticeship program earn a national, industry-recognized credential.

SWCTF Apprenticeship programs benefit the workforce system in many ways, including the following:

  • Assisting employers with recruiting and screening potential apprentices
  • Providing basic skills training or partnering in pre-apprenticeship efforts
  • Providing training money for apprentice-related instruction through Individual Training Accounts
  • Developing customized and on-the-job training contracts with employers
  • Contributing supportive training supplies, such as tools and books.

SWCTF apprenticeship programs are a key asset for state and local workforce systems’ career pathway strategies. Apprenticeship programs can be a partner in the K-12 educational system and an integral part of career and technical programs in high schools. School- or community-sponsored pre-apprenticeship programs can be valuable training approaches and serve as the start of a career pathway that leads to Apprenticeship opportunities for youth or low-skilled adult workers.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in an apprenticeship program. Pre-apprenticeship programs promote the training and employment of a diverse and skilled workforce, and prepare participants to meet the basic qualifications for entry into an apprenticeship program, through:

  • An approved training curriculum based on industry standards,
  • Educational and pre-vocational services,
  • Hands-on training in a simulated lab experience or through volunteer opportunities, and
  • Assistance in applying to apprenticeship programs.

Pre-apprenticeship programs involve formal partnerships with at least one apprenticeship program sponsor.

Employers

First, apprenticeship programs benefit employers in that they help businesses develop highly skilled employees. Apprenticeship programs also reduce turnover rates, increase productivity and lower the cost of recruitment. Additional benefits to employers include the following:

  • Highly skilled employees that are the product of customized training that meets industry standards and is tailored to specific business needs.
  • Increased knowledge transfer through on-the-job learning from an experienced mentor, combined with education courses to support work-based learning.
  • Enhanced employee retention: 91% of apprentices that complete an apprenticeship program remain employed nine months later.
  • A safer workplace stemming from each apprenticeship program’s emphasis on safety training, which may reduce worker compensation costs.
  • A stable and reliable supply of qualified employees.
  • Trained and certified employees who produce at the highest skill levels required for each trade.
  • Potential qualification for state tax credits available for apprenticeship program sponsors.
  • Reduction in an employer’s investment in apprenticeship training costs through the contribution of training and supplies provided by workforce systems and other community partners.

Employers play an indispensable role in any apprenticeship program. Employers drive the design of apprenticeship programs; these programs cannot exist without employers. An individual business or a group of businesses is often the sponsor of an apprenticeship program. Sponsors make significant investments to design and carry out apprenticeship programs, provide jobs to apprentices, oversee training development, and provide hands-on learning and technical instruction for apprentices.

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