The United Association has the first nationally registered joint apprenticeship program in the United States, dating back to 1936. Apprenticeship is a serious and vigorous undertaking: UA apprentices must work the same hours as journeyworkers, plus attend classes. This can be a highly rewarding career path for an individual who is motivated to learn the piping trade and become an active member of a proud and noble trade union.
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When an applicant is accepted into a UA Local Union apprenticeship program, it is similar to receiving a full-ride, tuition-free scholarship. While learning the trade, they also work for a contractor and earn wages to help support their families.
Individuals who enter our five-year apprenticeship program are part of a select group of men and women motivated to learn a complex and challenging trade while upholding the ideals of trade unionism. All applicants are evaluated on the same fair basis, without regard to race, sex, national origin or religious affiliation.
UA apprentices learn through both classroom and on-the-job training in what is considered by many to be the best construction industry apprentice program in the world. The five-year apprenticeship period is divided into one-year segments, each of which includes 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of related classroom instruction. All UA apprentices receive a strong general education background in the trade, with core courses in basics such as mathematics, mechanical drafting, and related science. At an appropriate juncture, apprentices can choose a specific curriculum to pursue with the goal of becoming a plumber, pipefitter, sprinkler fitter, or service technician in the air conditioning/refrigeration field, or any of the other many service opportunities in the industry.
The learning that takes place in apprenticeship has been assessed by the American Council on Education and other organizations and colleges so that an apprentice can complete an associate of arts or associate of science degree simultaneously with journey-level credentials in the craft of their choice.
One thing that makes the UA training program so successful is that it as a joint partnership between labor and management. All training programs are run through United Association local joint training committees in specific cities or regions, and are directed by the International Training Fund.