Building Trades Careers

Building Trades Careers

Building Trades

Building trades (or crafts) workers are the backbone of the unionized construction industry, bringing expert craftsmanship, high-tech skills and hands-on experience to each Better Built project.

Building trades workers specialize in one of many trades listed below. To learn more about each trade, click on the trade below, see Building Trades in the Member Directory, or download the Building Trades Apprenticeship Booklet.

Experienced trades workers may advance to become job-site foremen or superintendents. They may also choose to become representatives for their unions or instructors for their apprenticeship training programs.    

Trades workers may work out of their union local (or "hall"), getting called to work for a variety of contractors and jobs, or they may work directly for a contractor. Hours worked annually can fluctuate with the construction economy and weather conditions. Trades workers must learn how to budget their annual income to allow for these fluctuations.

For more information about local building trades, also go to West Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council (WCIBCTC).

Good Wages and Benefits 

Each trades worker receives scale wages and benefits as negotiated by trade unions and area contractors. These benefit packages allow trades workers to draw a good salary, prepare for retirement, take care of family health needs, and contribute to the local economy.

Contact each trade above or download the Building Trades Apprenticeship Booklet for current wage rates and benefit packages.

Apprenticeship - Earn While You Learn 

Individuals interested in becoming building trades workers must apply for and complete a comprehensive apprenticeship training program. Each trade operates its own apprenticeship training program that adheres to the highest and strictest standards monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship training programs typically last three to five years and include on-the-job and classroom training. Apprentices receive a percentage of scale wages as well as benefits while learning on the job. As apprentices move through their training programs, that percentage typically increases.

An apprentice who completes the training program is recognized and awarded "Journeyman" status and receives scale wages and benefits. A Journeyman has the qualifications and ability to travel to different areas around the world to pursue work in his or her trade.

Apprenticeship programs take new classes of apprentices according to the demand for construction work. Some programs take applications year-round, while others only take applications during certain times.

To apply for an apprenticeship program, interested individuals should contact the training director or representative for the trade. Download the Building Trades Apprenticeship Booklet for more details, contact information, and application dates.

Entry requirements for each apprenticeship program vary but may include the following:

  • Be age 18 or older
  • Hold valid driver's license
  • Pass drug screen
  • Pass aptitude test, including math skills
  • Interview with trade representatives
  • Complete an application and/or submit a resume
  • Pay an application fee
  • Provide high school (and college) transcripts
  • Be able to perform the duties of the trade

Typical Work Day - Love What You Do 

Building trades workers work in a variety of conditions--wet, cold, hot, high, or even underground. They use a variety of tools and work at many types of job sites from commercial and industrial to institutional and residential.

On a job site, trades workers must be prepared for any type of weather or condition, use math and communication skills frequently, and use a variety of tools. They must adhere to strict safety standards and work with a level of professionalism that gets the job done on time, in budget, and with the highest quality.

Trades workers may work year-round or may have periods of time when work is limited or unavailable due to the economy or weather. It is important for them to budget for these fluctuations.

When asked what they love most about their jobs, pride and satisfaction top the list. They see the results of their hard work and craftsmanship in completed projects in their communities.  

Safety and Health 

Safety is a priority in union construction. Building trades and contractors work together to ensure the safety of each worker, adhering to strict safety standards set and monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Trades workers must use appropriate safety equipment and complete regular safety and health training and certification.  

Ongoing Training and Certification 

Building trades workers must regularly update their skills. This means they must go through additional training and certification in a number of areas, especially related to their trade and including safety and health.

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