Mary Young knew in high school that she wanted to be an ironworker, following in her father’s footsteps. “At a very young age, he put a welding hood and pair of oversized gloves on me and turned me loose,” she says. However, when she was getting ready to graduate from high school, her dad convinced her to go to college instead.
After graduating, she went on to be a supervisor in the manufacturing sector for many years. Her love for ironworking never left, and three and half years ago, at the age of 33, she decided it was time to pursue her dream.
She signed up for the Ironworkers Local 118 apprenticeship program, and she’ll graduate on Sept. 1, just in time for the Labor Day celebration of the workforce. As with other apprenticeship programs, Ironworkers Local 118 offers a four-year program that allows apprentices to earn a living while learning their trade.
Apprentices spend approximately 5,600 hours in on-the-job training, working alongside certified Journeyman Ironworkers. In addition to their on-site training, apprentices are required to complete 160 hours of classes each year. Young says she has learned most of all the facets of ironworking through on the job training with other Journeyman and she’s ready to become a Journeyman Ironworker.
The regular pay raises will be appreciated, as is the fact that she did it without incurring traditional college debt. “I got paid for learning on the job and the classroom portion was inclusive,” Young explains.
Depending on where your interests are, there are many opportunities to get an education and further your career through local apprenticeships programs. As the Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Coordinators Association shares: Good wages and full benefits begin on day one of our apprenticeship programs, which include:
- Construction Craft Laborers
- Heat & Frost Insulators
- NV Energy
- Operating Engineers
- Painters and Allied Trades
- Plasterers and Cement Masons
- Plumbers and Pipefitters
- Sheet Metal Workers
“People who aren’t interested in a traditional college track can get an apprenticeship, learn skills and end up with a good-paying job with benefits and stability,” says Mike Pilcher, president of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council.
There has been a shortage of workers in the skilled trades for many years, which creates an opportunity for people interested in those careers.
“If you want to work with your back and your brains and your hands, we’ve got a job for you,” Pilcher says, adding that once someone becomes a journeyman their job is portable and they can work anywhere.
If you’d like to learn more about local apprenticeship programs and other opportunities, attend Reno Labor Fest, taking place at Idlewild Park on Labor Day, Sept. 5 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. There will also be local union employers
sharing information on high-paying local jobs.
Organizations and businesses participating in Reno LaborFest include:
NV Energy, AT&T, UPS, Washoe County, Washoe County School District, City of Reno, Washoe Education Association, Women Build Nevada, BT Dev Corp, UA 350, Laborers Local 169, IUPAT 567, IBEW 401, OE3, National Tile & Stone, Waste Management, Reno Musicians Union Local 368, Insulators Local 16, NALC 709, RTC Washoe, Teamsters 533, AFGE 2152, IBEW 1245, Bricklayers, OPCMIA 797, Iron Workers 118, OE Federal Credit Union, Martin Iron Works, MTM Transit (RTC Access), Tahoe Transportation District, Keolis, IAFF 731, Helmets to Hardhats, SNCLC, Road Sprinkler Fitters 669, RHP, Red Cedar Steel, APWU, UAW 2162, Corona Steel, Corona Stud & Deck and IUEC Local 8.
Though Reno LaborFest is a great opportunity to learn, it’s a celebration of the American worker first, complete with food trucks, beer garden, live entertainment and a kids zone.
For more information, visit www.RenoLaborFest.com.
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