Many careers in the building and construction trades are specialized: Ironworkers work primarily with iron, from decorative to structural; sheet metal workers work mostly with sheet metal, designing, installing, and repairing duct work; and electricians work mostly with, well—electricity.
But if you thrive on high variety, and want a career that presents an array of different challenges and environments every day, consider a career as a construction laborer. Construction craft laborers have the most diverse skill set of all the building and construction trades. Depending on the day, a laborer might be out laying pipelines, excavating tunnels, landscaping, assisting with a demolition, working with concrete, handling environmental clean-up, and more.
"We have the biggest range in our scope of work of all the trades," says Al DeVita, apprenticeship coordinator for the Laborer's Apprenticeship Program of Northern Nevada and Local 169. "And we work with a lot of different types of contractors and projects, from highway construction to electrical contractors to environmental contractors."
An earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship in the Local 169 is about two years, during which time apprentices will spend a total of 4,000 hours in on-the-job training and 300 hours in the classroom earning an OSHA 10 certificate and learning relevant math skills and basic foundations of construction work.
Apprentices start earning a paycheck on day one of training—$15.45/hour for a first-year apprentice—and get incremental raises. A full benefits package kicks in after four months in the program, and includes healthcare, paid time off, a pension, and free classes for life through the union. When they graduate, or "journey out," they'll start their careers as journeymen at $26/hour.
The Laborer's Apprenticeship Program of Northern Nevada accepts applications all year long, though DeVita notes that most apprentices are called in to start work in the spring months. Applicants must be 18 years or older and physically able to perform the work. A high school diploma is preferred, though not required, and applicants with some construction industry training, or military training, get extra points.
"We're increasingly using technology in the field and in the classroom," says DeVita. "An apprentice not only needs to like fast-paced work, working outdoors, and doing heavy physical labor, they also need to be comfortable with computers and other tech, like lasers and GPS tools. They also need to be self-motivated."
Applicants should be prepared to take a written and physical aptitude tests, attend an orientation, and participate in an interview.
What's the outlook?
"Growth!" says DeVita. "We're very busy. We've got laborers out on every construction site the union building trades are on right now. I'd encourage people to apply. We're going to do everything we can to help you be successful, because we're making an investment in you."
To learn more or to apply to be a laborers apprentice, visit https://local169.com/apprenticeship or call 775-343-0171, or fill out our contact form and a recruiter will be in touch soon.
The Laborers' Apprenticeship Program of Northern Nevada and Local 169 is an equal-opportunity employer and its opportunities are available to all who meet the minimum requirements, regardless of age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality.