The building boom currently underway in the U.S. offers opportunities for those who might want to consider becoming a carpenter or an electrician. And those who are interested in this type of work may want to consider a pre-apprenticeship program.
New home construction continues to rise this year over last, especially for buildings with five or more units. According to the RealPage Analytics Blog more than 426,000 apartments are scheduled to be completed in the U.S. in 2022, the highest number on record for at least four decades and an increase of 17% over last year.
In addition, many people who choose to remain in their existing homes are upgrading them. The National Kitchen and Bath Association says that large home remodel projects will see double digit gains for the next two years. And, as homes grow older, the need – and desire – for renovations will increase.
Carpenters and electricians have backlog of work
Many contractors, carpenters and electricians in areas with hot housing markets are backed up for weeks. And businesses like Home Depot in those places are having trouble keeping up their inventories.
Being an electrician is one career that is expected to see a continuing shortage. According to the National Electrical Contractors Association, 10,000 electricians retire every year, replaced by only 7,000 new electricians, leaving a net loss of 3,000 people who do this job.
There are opportunities to be gained from all this construction work. And one way to take advantage of them, if you are interested and don’t have experience, is through a pre-apprenticeship program.
Carpenter and electrician job descriptions
But first, let’s take a look at these two jobs and see if they might be suitable for you.
Carpenters work on a variety of projects, building everything from houses to office buildings and furniture to flooring. They use hand and power tools to do things like cutting wood, installing windows and building walls. Those who do this job need to be able to read blueprints and take accurate measurements. They also need to be physically strong and able to solve problems. Good communication skills are important, since they will be working with other people and sometimes dealing with clients.
Carpentry usually requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Although some community colleges and technical schools offer associate’s degrees in carpentry, most carpenters either learn on the job or through an apprenticeship.
Being a carpenter may be a good choice if you’d like to have your own business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 26% of all carpenters are self-employed. And after a few years of experience, some of them become general contractors.
Electricians use a variety of special tools to install, maintain and repair electrical power, lighting and communications systems. They work on houses, apartment buildings, businesses and factories. Electricians need to be able to read blueprints, use common and sophisticated tools, be proficient in math and understand local building code requirements. Electricians also need to be physically strong, be able to troubleshoot problems and think critically to solve problems. Because wires are identified by color, if you’re color blind, being an electrician wouldn’t be the right career choice path.
To be an electrician, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. While some electricians begin to learn their trade by attending a technical school, they, like most others who want to do this job, enter a four- or five-year apprenticeship. These apprenticeships may be sponsored by a union or contractor association. Most states require that electricians be licensed.
One way to find out if either of these jobs is right for you is to take part in a pre-apprenticeship program. Not only will participants learn about the job, but the skills they develop may make them more likely to be accepted into an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs are the best way to become a carpenter or electrician, since they provide wages along with training.
Pre-apprenticeship programs are offered by a variety of providers, including colleges, unions and nonprofit organizations.
The best way to find out about a pre-apprenticeship program in your area is to contact your local American Job Center. These centers are operated by the U.S. Dept. of Labor and exist to help people find employment. All of their services are free of charge. You can also search the Internet using search words like “union pre-apprenticeship directory.”
A pre-apprenticeship program can help you prepare for the apprenticeship that’s right for you. Read more about the federal pre-apprenticeship programs YouthBuild and Job Corps to discover opportunities in or near your area. You can search apprenticeship.gov’s Partner Finder to see sponsors that may offer a pre-apprenticeship program that you can apply for.
The community college programs require tuition, but scholarships may be available, and some pre-apprenticeship programs are covered by grants. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, is leading an initiative to expand apprenticeship offerings in community colleges. It’s always a good idea to check and see what is offered at your local community college.
Pre-apprenticeship training for carpenters and electricians
You’ll need to do your own search, but here are a few links to give you an idea of what’s out there.
Carpenter pre-apprenticeship programs
Job Train Carpentry Pre-Apprentice Program – This San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit offers a pre-apprenticeship program for the building trades to residents of six counties.
Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industry – The Oregon BOLI is a government agency that maintains an online directory of 25 pre-apprenticeship programs throughout the state.
Central South Carpenters and Millwrights Training Trust Fund – This organization offers pre-apprenticeship training based on a $200 million program developed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters International Training Fund. The apprenticeship training takes place at seven sites throughout Louisiana and Texas – in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; and in Amarillo, Arlington, Austin, Houston and San Antonio, Texas.
BuildingWorks – The New York City District Council of Carpenters offers this free pre-apprenticeship program at the council’s Carpenters Training Center.
Electrician pre-apprenticeship programs
IBEW pre-apprenticeship programs – The International Brother of Electrical Workers maintains a directory of electrician pre-apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and Canada.
NECA-IBEW 48 Pre-Apprenticeship Program – The National Electrical Contractors Association – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 sponsors a seven-week pre-apprenticeship program that takes place in Portland, Ore., and includes a $1,200 stipend.