Resources

Ready to experience the advantage? Here’s how to get started with a career in the skilled trades.

Important Industry Dates

National Apprenticeship Week
2022 TBD

Women in Construction Week
Mar 7 – 14, 2021

Labor Day 2021
Sept 6, 2021

WRTP | BIG STEP

Representatives across the building trades founded Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP – BIG STEP) in 1976 to increase the number of women, minorities and young workers employed in the skilled trades. A United States Department of Labor grant ultimately guided the organization toward a successful collaboration with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP) in 2002.

Combined, WRTP/BIG STEP has become a national leader in recruitment and development solutions, providing career pathways for jobseekers and meeting the needs of employers/unions looking to hire a diverse set of qualified candidates.

For more information on how WRTP/BIG STEP can help you, visit www.wrtp.org.

Which Trade Is Right For Me?

Union Construction Trades

Test Preparation

Every applicant must complete the ACCUPLACER aptitude test or meet other testing requirements, which helps identify your knowledge, strengths and areas of improvement in math, reading and writing. Some trades require a spatial or mechanical test also. We recommend you prepare well in advance for the best chance of success. For tutoring help, contact WRTP/BIG STEP.

Practice and prepare for test day by downloading the free web-based ACCUPLACER test app.

Below are a few sample questions from the classic ACCUPLACER placement exams.

60 PERCENT OF WHAT NUMBER IS EQUAL TO 30?
A. 0.5
B. 2
C. 18
D. 50

The answer is D, 50.

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING INEQUALITIES IS TRUE?
A. 3/4 < 5/7
B. 2/3 > 5/6
C. 5/8 > 6/10
D. 4/5 < 2/9

The answer is C, 5/8 > 6/10.

ONE ORDERING OF THE LETTERS T, U, V AND W FROM LEFT TO RIGHT IS UTVW. WHAT IS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ORDERINGS OF THESE LETTERS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, INCLUDING UTVW?A. 8 B. 12 C. 16 D. 20

The answer is B, 12.

FAQs

There are nearly 20 different trade pathways to choose from that each require a variety of skill sets and focus on different areas of construction. The WRTP/BIG STEP teams offer services to help you find a fit and get connected with industry professionals in the field. You can also explore the trades here. Consider factors such as your comfort with working in closed spaces and at heights, your desire to work in extreme weather conditions, and your math skill level.

You will need to be 18 and have a high school diploma or HSED to be eligible to start an apprenticeship.Each skilled trade has a unique application and process to complete, and for many trades you can begin to submit these documents in your senior year of high school. You will complete your application by submitting your high school transcripts and finishing the steps in the application process. You do not need to have any college certifications or degrees to be eligible for an apprenticeship after high school.

The first step is to complete the application process. These processes and application days depend on your trade. The WRTP/BIG STEP team can help you with this through their apprenticeship readiness services. Your construction apprenticeship will be through the state of Wisconsin, and you will sign a contract. When you get to this point, you will be hired and also be part of your local trade union.

Your math courses will be especially important if you are considering a career in construction. Take Algebra and practice skills like basic calculations, reading a ruler, and understanding fractions. The skilled trades will want you to have a good understanding of reading, language, and science as well. Most trade application processes require passing test scores, so your reading, math, and language ACT scores will be important. Definitely take the opportunity to enroll in any career and technical education classes such as construction or welding. Reach out to WRTP/BIG STEP for training opportunities as well.

If you complete the application process, get selected, and find an opportunity with a contractor to begin an apprenticeship, then you will spend about 80% of your time on the job and 20% of your time in school. An apprenticeship with the construction union trades is an “earn to learn” program, meaning you are paid from the start of your apprenticeship for the job you do, learn from professionals in the field, and also have an opportunity to attend classes. Be aware that construction is often seasonal work, so apprentices may be out of work or laid off as certain points in the year (i.e. colder months). You will need to plan for this in how you spend your money and time, but part of being in a construction union is to support you in finding work when contractors are hiring.

A construction apprenticeship is a full-time opportunity. You will be working and attending classes periodically. The class schedule will vary based on the trade apprenticeship program you begin. Some trades have apprentices once or twice a week, sometimes in the evenings or on weekends. Some trades have apprentices attend classes during slower parts of the season when there is not as much work in the field. This schedule will depend on the trade you choose and how local training centers run the program.

You may have a wait before getting hired once you complete the application process for apprenticeship. Be patient. Be persistent. You may choose to take courses or trainings, and this is a good time to work on your resume and interview skills. Reach out to WRTP/BIG STEP to learn more about their services. Stay connected to your local union to learn about job opportunities and hiring contractors.

Yes! One perk of being part of the construction union trades is that each trade has a standard starting wage for new apprentices that is very competitive and offers strong benefits like health insurance and retirement savings. You will be eligible for wage increases as you earn hours towards your apprenticeship. Apprenticeships typically last 3 – 5 years, and you get paid the entire time you are working. You then can become a journey worker making over $30/hour. This could happen in about 5 years after graduating high school depending on industry need.

As part of your local construction union, you will be eligible for wage increases based on your number of hours earned as an apprentice. From an apprentice, you work towards being a journeyworker who is an experienced professional in the field and trains apprentices. There are  also opportunities to work to be a foreman leading crews on a job site, or perhaps even a superintendent overseeing the work of a project. The construction industry has many employment pathways and opportunities to go back to school to continue your career!

The construction industry is one that has work as long as communities are building and roadways need improvements. Based on the trade that you choose, construction work may be seasonal. The trades are a growing industry in need of a new generation to join the workforce.

Are you ready to see what a career in union construction has to offer?

I’m Ready to Get Started