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Become An Apprentice

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Working As An Apprentice

  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Getting Information
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Deal with People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $28,730

    Average Salary

What Does An Apprentice Do

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Duties

Construction laborers and helpers typically do the following:

  • Clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards
  • Load or unload building materials to be used in construction
  • Build or take apart bracing, scaffolding, and temporary structures
  • Dig trenches, backfill holes, or compact earth to prepare for construction
  • Operate or tend equipment and machines used in construction
  • Follow construction plans and instructions from supervisors or more experienced workers
  • Assist craftworkers with their duties

Construction laborers and helpers work on almost all construction sites, performing a wide range of tasks varying in complexity from very easy to extremely difficult and hazardous. Although many of the tasks they perform require some training and experience, most tasks can be learned quickly. 

Construction laborers, are also referred to as construction craft laborers, perform a wide variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Many laborers spend their time preparing and cleaning up construction sites, using tools such as shovels and brooms. Other workers, for example, those on road crews, may specialize and learn to control traffic patterns and operate pavement breakers, jackhammers, earth tampers, or surveying equipment.

With special training, laborers may help transport and use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They may learn to use lasers to place pipes and to use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. They may become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Helpers assist construction craftworkers, such as electricians and carpenters, with a variety of tasks. They may carry tools and materials or help set up equipment. For example, many helpers work with cement masons to move and set the forms that determine the shape of poured concrete. Many other helpers assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste, as well as helping with any other needs of craftworkers.

Many construction trades have helpers who assist craftworkers. The following trades have associated helpers:

  • Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, and tile and marble setters
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons
  • Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
  • Roofers

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How To Become An Apprentice

Construction laborers and helpers learn their trade through on-the-job training (OJT). The length of training depends on the employer and the specialization. Formal education is not typically required.

Education

Although formal education is not typically required, high school classes in mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, and other vocational subjects can be helpful.

To receive further education, some workers attend a trade school or community college.

Training

Construction laborers and helpers learn through OJT after being hired by a construction contractor. Workers typically gain experience by performing tasks under the guidance of experienced workers.

Although the majority of construction laborers and helpers learn by assisting experienced workers, some construction laborers opt for apprenticeship programs. Programs generally include 2 to 4 years of technical instruction and OJT. The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) requires a minimum of 4,000 hours of OJT, accompanied by 300 hours of related instruction in such areas as signaling, blueprint reading, using proper tools and equipment, and following health and safety procedures. The remainder of the curriculum consists of specialized training in one of these eight areas:

  • Building construction
  • Demolition and deconstruction
  • Environmental remediation
  • Road and utility construction
  • Tunneling
  • Masonry
  • Landscaping
  • Pipeline construction

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs, which usually have only a basic age qualification—age 18 or older—for entrance. Apprentices must obtain a high school diploma or equivalent before completing their apprenticeship. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Laborers who remove hazardous materials (hazmat) must meet the federal and state requirements for hazardous materials removal workers.

Depending on the work they do, laborers may need specific certifications, which may be attained through LIUNA. Rigging and scaffold building are commonly attained certifications. Certification can help workers prove that they have the knowledge to perform more complex tasks.

Advancement

Through experience and training, construction laborers and helpers can advance into positions that involve more complex tasks. For example, laborers may earn certifications in welding, erecting scaffolding, or finishing concrete, and then spend more time performing those activities. Similarly, helpers sometimes move into construction craft occupations after gaining experience in the field. For example, experience as an electrician’s helper may lead to becoming an apprentice electrician.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Construction laborers and helpers may need to be able to distinguish colors to do their job. For example, an electrician’s helper must be able to distinguish different colors of wire to help the lead electrician.

Math skills. Construction laborers and some helpers need to perform basic math calculations while measuring on jobsites or assisting a surveying crew.

Mechanical skills. Construction laborers are frequently required to operate and maintain equipment, such as jackhammers.

Physical stamina. Construction laborers and helpers must have the endurance to perform strenuous tasks throughout the day. Highway laborers, for example, spend hours on their feet—often in hot temperatures—with few breaks.

Physical strength. Construction laborers and helpers must often lift heavy materials or equipment. For example, cement mason helpers must move cinder blocks, which typically weigh more than 40 pounds each.

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Apprentice Demographics

Gender

Male

74.7%

Female

23.5%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.6%

Hispanic or Latino

17.0%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.7%

French

11.2%

German

7.8%

Italian

3.8%

Chinese

3.8%

Mandarin

3.0%

Japanese

2.7%

Portuguese

2.6%

Russian

2.0%

Arabic

1.5%

Hindi

1.4%

Carrier

1.4%

Korean

1.2%

Cantonese

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

Hebrew

1.0%

Dutch

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Tagalog

0.7%

Swedish

0.6%
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Apprentice Education

Schools

Community College of the Air Force

20.0%

University of Phoenix

11.9%

University of California - Berkeley

7.9%

Liberty University

4.9%

College of Southern Nevada

4.6%

Universal Technical Institute

4.4%

Pennsylvania State University

4.4%

Michigan State University

3.9%

Ashford University

3.9%

West Virginia University

3.5%

Florida State University

3.4%

Temple University

3.2%

The Academy

3.2%

University of Vermont

3.2%

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

3.1%

Johnson & Wales University

3.0%

Savannah College of Art and Design

3.0%

Kaplan University

2.9%

University of Arizona

2.8%

University of Colorado at Boulder

2.7%
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Majors

Business

20.5%

Criminal Justice

7.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

6.9%

General Studies

5.7%

Psychology

5.4%

Automotive Technology

4.9%

Electrical Engineering

4.4%

Computer Science

4.2%

Communication

4.1%

Fine Arts

4.0%

Graphic Design

3.9%

Education

3.8%

Biology

3.6%

Accounting

3.3%

Management

3.2%

Mechanical Engineering

3.2%

Marketing

3.0%

Precision Metal Working

3.0%

Liberal Arts

3.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.9%
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Degrees

Other

34.0%

Bachelors

33.9%

Associate

13.3%

Masters

8.7%

Certificate

6.4%

Diploma

2.1%

Doctorate

1.2%

License

0.4%
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Real Apprentice Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
General Management Apprentice FMR Corp. Smithfield, RI Feb 12, 2010 $88,254 -
$112,278
General Management Apprentice FMR Corp. Albuquerque, NM Nov 20, 2009 $73,029 -
$96,990
Story Apprentice The Secret Lab Glendale, CA Oct 31, 2015 $65,219
Architectural Apprentice MBH Architects, Inc. Alameda, CA Jul 19, 2010 $46,144
Commercial Field Apprentice AAA Waterproofing, Inc. Commerce City, CO Apr 15, 2016 $32,975
Student Apprentice Richard MacDonald Studio Monterey, CA Feb 01, 2013 $32,000
Student Apprentice Richard MacDonald Studios Monterey, CA Sep 01, 2013 $32,000
Student Apprentice Richard MacDonald Studio Monterey, CA May 15, 2012 $32,000

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Top Skills for An Apprentice

SafetyProceduresApprenticeshipRUNConduitCustomerServiceHandToolsJobSiteHvacDrywallDuctWindowsLayoutOshaNewConstructionPrepFacilityKitchenPVCPreventativeMaintenanceJourneymenAdditional

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  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Apprenticeship
  3. RUN Conduit
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implemented airfield safety procedures to ensure a safe operating environment for personnel and aircraft operation.
  • Aided in further development of RoleModel Software's Apprenticeship program.
  • Install electric materials, run conduit, and run wiring and tubing underground, in walls, and overhead.
  • Managed wide variety of customer service and administrative tasks to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently.
  • Thread conduit ends, connected couplings, and fabricated and secured conduit support brackets, using hand tools.

How Would You Rate Working As an Apprentice?

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Top Apprentice Employers

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Apprentice Videos

A Day in the Life of Jordan, Apprentice Electrician at Suncor Energy

How To Become An Electrician

How to be an Apprentice