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What is an Apprentice?

a man showing two other men how to work with iron bars


An apprentice is a training-level employee who works in the building and construction trades while also attending classes to learn industry skills and safety techniques. Wages for an apprentice increase over the course of this training, which lasts from two to five years depending on the trade. An apprentice who graduates to journey-person is recognized as a well-qualified worker who can command the best wages and benefits.

What are the qualifications to become an apprentice?

Qualifications to become an apprentice include:

  • Strong foundation of math and literacy skill
  • High school or an equivalency diploma
  • Ability to successfully complete an aptitude test

Additionally, a qualified candidate must be:

  • Physically fit
  • Drug-free
  • Have access to reliable transportation
  • Have proof of citizenship or the legal right to work in the U.S.

What are the benefits of an Apprenticeship Training and Union Membership?

Apprenticeship training provides individuals with the skills needed to compete economically and work safely. Union members of the building and construction trades typically receive higher wages and better benefits than those employed by non-union contractors.

Apprenticeship Requirements:

  • A person must be 18 years of age and have a valid driver's license to be considered for the Apprenticeship program

Additional information to be submitted at the time of application:

  • Birth Certificate
  • High school diploma or GED
  • School transcripts
  • Social Security Card
  • Valid driver's license
  • $20 Application Fee - Application fee should be mailed to 2350 Main Street Wheeling, West Virginia 26003 or in person at time of testing.  Please make check or money order payable to Ironworkers J.A.T.C. 

Applications will not be processed until minimum qualifications are met.

Are YOU Ironworker material?

If you possess the following qualities and are looking for a career that will maximize your potential, you just might have what it takes to become an Ironworker.

  • Do you like to be able to see the work you’ve done at the end of the day?
  • Do you take pride in providing quality work that meets demanding standards?
  • Do you like to work as part of a team?
  • Do you like to work outdoors?
  • Are you willing to do physically demanding work that requires you to use your mind too?
  • Would you like to earn a respectable wage while going to school to learn new skills and perhaps even a college degree?
  • Are you interested in a career rather than “just a job?”
  • Do you enjoy new challenges?

If you're nodding your head “yes” to the questions above, we encourage you to contact your local iron workers union about apprenticeship training programs in your area. An apprenticeship program will provide a way to achieve the success you’re looking for. To find a local union in your area, click here. Want to know more about what it means to be an apprentice? Click here. And if you’re still not sure what exactly it is an ironworker does, well, we can answer that, too.

Requirements to Enter an Ironworkers Apprenticeship Program

  • Minimum age of 18 years.
  • High school diploma, G.E.D., or equivalent as specified by the local training committee.
  • Good physical condition – The materials used for ironworking are heavy and bulky so above average physical strength is necessary.
  • Agility and a good sense of balance are also required.
  • Drug and alcohol free.
  • Must meet requirements as set out in applicable citizenship laws.

Classes useful in preparation for a career in the Union Ironworking industry are:

  • Mathematics
  • Drafting and blueprint reading
  • Construction technology
  • Shop classes
  • Welding

Related Training:

  • This is a three year program. 204 hours of related classroom training shall be required each year.

  • Apprentice Wages

    55%     $18.34
    65%     $21.68
    70%     $23.34
    75%     $25.01
    80%     $26.68
    85%     $28.34

    AN IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important to mention that an ironworker must be willing to work in high places, have a good sense of balance, and be alert to potential danger to themselves and others. However, the apprenticeship program includes safety training with OSHA certified instructors so that the danger is minimized.

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    JATC Officers

    Ginny Favede, O.V.C.E.C.
    Les Hartman, Century Steel
    Jason Costello, J.D. & E.
    Bengy Swanson, Business Manager/F.S.T. Local 549
    Patrick Currey, Business Agent Local 549
    Kelly Dierkes, President Local 549

    JATC Apprenticeship Coordinator

    Steve Terry
    Cell: 304-281-4489