Frequently asked questions

The following questions are frequently asked by students, parents and others seeking information about apprenticeship programs. Responses to each have been provided.

  1. What are the building and construction trades?
  2. What is an apprenticeship?
  3. What is an apprentice?
  4. What is a journeyman?
  5. How is one admitted to an apprenticeship program?
  6. What qualifications are needed?
  7. Are practice admissions tests available?
  8. What is an apprenticeship agreement?
  9. Who sponsors apprenticeship programs?
  10. Who pays for the apprenticeship program?
  11. What expenses does an apprentice have?
  12. Do apprentices get paid for their work?
  13. Are benefits provided for apprentices?
  14. Do apprentices have to join the union?
  15. What is the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training?
  16. About how many years does it take to complete a building and construction trades apprenticeship?
  17. What is “classroom training”?
  18. What is “on-the-job training”?
  19. Can an apprenticeship program lead to a college degree?
  20. Do apprentices have a probationary period?
  21. Is a job guaranteed once the apprenticeship training is completed?
  22. What do certified journey-level workers earn?
  23. How do journey-level workers stay up-to-date with new technology?
  24. How does one decide which trade to enter?
  25. How do I learn more about apprenticeship programs?
  26. How can journey-level workers and contractors be involved with education?

1. What are the building and construction trades?

There are 14 building and construction trades:

    1. Bricklayers
    2. Carpenters
    3. Cement masons
    4. Electricians
    5. Glaziers
    6. Heat and frost insulators
    7. Ironworkers
    8. Laborers
    9. Millwrights
    10. Operating engineers
    11. Painters
    12. Plumbers and pipefitters
    13. Roofers
    14. Sheet metal workers

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2. What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a unique education opportunity in which students gain specific skills and knowledge related to a trade/craft. Training combines supervised daily on-the-job instruction, with classroom instruction in subjects related to the trade. Students learn and practice all phases of the particular trade in real-world applications. The apprenticeship experience ensures the student’s employability and guarantees competent workers for industry by providing for learning the complete range or skills and knowledge of a trade. During the apprenticeship, students must be at least near full-time employees of the company to which they are apprenticed. Also, there is a signed written agreement between the program sponsor, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT) and the students. More than 1000 different apprenticeship programs exist n Indiana. Some are as small as one or two apprentices while others serve hundreds. All are registered with the USDOL BAT located in Indiana.

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3. What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is a person/individual who has entered into a written agreement with an employer under which the employer is to provide an opportunity for the apprentice to learn an apprenticable trade.

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4. What is a journeyman?

A journeyman, now referred to as journey-level worker or journey-person, is a skilled worker in that trade or craft who has successfully completed an apprenticeship program and is certified by the apprenticeship sponsor (see question 9).

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5. How is one admitted to an apprenticeship program?

Having a close relative in the trade used to be an advantage in competing for apprentice positions, but this is no longer the case. Under law, all applicants must be treated equally during the selection process. Individuals interested in apprenticeship programs should contact their school counselor, Workforce Development Center, or the appropriate apprenticeship committee, union, or employers for the trade they wish to enter. Prospective apprentices will be given an application and information on the application process.

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6. What qualifications are needed?

Basic requirements for admission to an apprenticeship program in Indiana usually includes: 18 years of age, high school or G.E.D. diploma, and/or an admissions test administered by the apprenticeship program, American citizenship, and physical ability to perform the work of the trade without hazard, interview and the signing of an apprenticeship agreement (see number 8).

While the basic admission requirements are listed above, high school students desiring a successful apprenticeship experience should have a strong background in math, science, and English with an emphasis on real-world problem solving. Blueprint reading and mechanical drawing are helpful for building and construction trades. Also, strong work ethics, personal management skills and team-work skills are beneficial.

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7. Are practice admissions tests available?

Many apprenticeship programs will provide prospective students with a practice admissions test. Check with the director of the apprenticeship program you are considering.

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8. What is an apprenticeship agreement?

An apprenticeship agreement is a required written agreement or contract between the apprentice, the program sponsor (see question 9) and the USDOL, BAT concerning the terms of employment and training experiences during the learning period. Items typically incorporated are provisions for instruction, overtime regulations, minimum wage schedules, and approximate time schedule for training in different aspects of the trade.

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9. Who sponsors apprenticeship programs?

When a sponsor includes an equal number of employers and union representatives, it is called a “joint apprenticeship training committee” or (JATC). The sponsor sets the policies, develops curriculum, supervises the apprenticeship program and certifies apprentices at the journey-level upon completion of the program. The sponsor also provides funding for the program.

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10. Who pays for the apprenticeship program?

The apprenticeship program sponsor pays for the apprentice’s education. Thus, when a student is accepted into the apprenticeship program, he or she is actually receiving a scholarship for four or five years education. Some union apprenticeship programs establish this funding as a “loan” which is forgiven is if the student continues to work in a union setting upon becoming certified at the journey-level.

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11. What expenses does an an apprentice have?

Apprentices may be required to purchase their books, tools and materials. Also, apprentices may be asked to pay an initiation fee and union dues.

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12. Do apprentices get paid for their work?

Yes! Usually, the wage scale begins at 40 percent – 50 percent of the journey-level worker’s rate and increases progressively with satisfactory completion of work assignments and training segments. A beginning apprentice may make p to $16,000 a year, including benefits and other hourly compensations. Near the end of the apprenticeship term, pay ranges from 90 percent – 95 percent of the beginning journey-level worker’s rate. Experienced journey-level employees may make up to $60,000 including benefits.

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13. Are benefits provided for apprentices?

Yes. Building trades apprentices may receive benefits such as health and retirement.

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14 Do apprentices have to join the union?

Union-sponsored apprenticeship programs generally do require their apprentices to join the union.

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15. What is the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training?

The Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) that assists industry in providing sound apprenticeship and training programs. All bona fide apprenticeship programs and their apprentices must be registered with the USDOL, BAT. In Indiana, more than 1000 apprenticeship programs are registered with USDOL, BAT. They range from those sponsors with one or two apprentices to Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee with hundreds of apprentices.

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16. About how many years does it take to complete a building and construction trades apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships usually last about four years, but may range from three to five years.

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17. What is "classroom training"?

During the “classroom” portion of the apprenticeship program, apprentices learn theory and technical knowledge related to the trade, and practice new skills in a simulated setting. The classroom curriculum is determined by the program sponsor. Registered apprenticeship programs must provide a minimum of 144 hours per year of classroom training. However, many apprenticeship programs require many more classroom hours. Classroom training may be provided at public secondary schools offering adult education, postsecondary institutions, industry plants, or union halls.

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18. What is "on-the-job training"?

"On-the-job training" happens at an actual work-site. Apprentices practice trade and real-word problem solving under supervision as they rotate through all aspects of their particular selected trade. Some apprenticeship programs require up to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training.

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19. Can an apprenticeship program lead to a college degree?

Yes. Ivy Tech State College has developed an initiative in which people currently enrolled in a joint apprenticeship training program can obtain an associate degree (2-year college degree) or technical certificate from Ivy Tech. Participating in the effort are seven apprenticeship trade programs at 33 sites, geographically dispersed across the state. Ivy Tech awards credit for the time apprentices spend on the job. Also, in some situations, apprentices may take several Ivy Tech general education courses as the classroom component of the apprenticeship training. Often, this reduces the long-distance travel to the apprenticeship training center. The associate degree awarded by Ivy Tech may also be used as the foundation to pursue a bachelor degree, or even a masters degree, in some fields related to the construction trade industry. School counselors and Workforce Development Offices have a list of the seven apprenticeship programs which are included in the Ivy Tech Apprenticeship Degree Program. In addition, summary information and a listing is provided in the Reproducible Materials (Tab Three) section of the Tool Kit.

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20. Do apprentices have a probationary period?

Yes. Many apprenticeship programs have a probationary period that lasts from six to twelve months. During this time the apprentice is carefully evaluated for their work ethics and willingness to learn. They get a chance to experience the training to confirm their commitment to the program. Apprentices who do not meet the established standards of performance are removed form the program. In some programs, the classroom portion of the training does not begin until the apprentice has successfully completed the probation period. Typical reasons for removal include attendance problems, excess tardiness, insubordination and drug use. Some apprenticeship programs dismiss more than 25 percent of their apprentices during the probationary period. However, a high apprenticeship completion rate exists for those students who successfully complete the probationary period.

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21. Is a job guaranteed once the apprenticeship training is completed?

An apprentice already has a job. All apprentices must have a job as part of their training, which is called OJT (On The Job Training). Most apprentices stay with their current employer after completion to become a journey-person. If an apprentice does not have a job upon completion of the training, the union will place them with an employer.

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22. What do certified journey-level workers earn?

Certified, experienced journey-level workers may earn as much as $60,000 a year, with wages and benefits.

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23. How do journey-level workers stay up-to-date with new technology?

Many union apprenticeship programs provide training for journey-level workers so they can update their skills.

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24. How does one decide which trade to enter?

When deciding which trade to enter, prospective apprentices should consider the characteristics of the different trades. Does the work require stamina? Does to require moving form job to job or wearing special clothes? Is it monotonous? Is the work predominately outside or inside?

Prospective apprentices should also consider their qualifications as applicants and the market for jobs in the geographic area in which they would work following the apprenticeship. Prospective apprentices may wish to interview journey-level workers and visit and apprenticeship campus or work site.

In addition, prospective apprentices should consider all aspects of the apprentice program. What does it cost for books or tools? Is union membership required and if so what are the benefits? How much time is spent in the classroom? When is the class scheduled? When is time on-the-job scheduled? Does the program help locate a job when the apprenticeship is completed? What are the qualifications of the apprenticeship instructors? Are the instructors journey-level? What opportunities exist for additional training beyond the apprenticeship? Is the apprenticeship program associated with a joint labor / management committee?

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25. How do I learn more about apprenticeship programs?

Indiana school counselors received a "Tool Box" of materials about apprenticeship programs in early 1999. The Tool Box includes printed materials, a nine-minute awareness video, and a list of Indiana union-sponsored apprenticeship contracts. Ask your school counselor to share these materials with you. In addition, consider talking with an apprenticeship director, coordinator or instructor by phone or visiting an apprenticeship campus or work site, or you can look in the yellow pages of your phone book under “Apprenticeship Training Programs.”

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26. How can journey-level workers and contractors be involved with education?

Journey-level workers and contractors can:

  • Contribute information about building trades apprenticeship
  • Assist with integration of academic and occupational preparation, including the SCANS skills needed in the workplace
  • Serve on regional building and construction trades councils
  • Serve as an active partner by developing relationships with the STW System at the state and regional/local levels
  • Provide mentors, job shadowing experiences, internships for teachers, counselors or administrators, cooperative work experiences, and examples of authentic performance assessment and apprenticeships
  • Encourage other employers to be active participants in the development of STW at the state and regional/local views
  • Serve as student competitive event judges.

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