Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need construction experience?

No! Just interest and willingness to learn.

Do you cover electricians/plumbers/carpenters/other specific trades?

TOP is a multi-craft career exploration course, so you will learn a little bit about all of the construction trades that have apprenticeship opportunities in or around Santa Clara County. That includes overviews of trades like pipefitting, cement masonry, commercial and residential electricians, sheet metal and HVAC, operating engineers, roofing and waterproofing, commercial painting, floorlaying and many more.

The TOP class does not focus on architecture, engineering, sales, or on getting a contractor's license.

Will this class teach me to remodel my house? Will it help me find work as a handyman? Will I become a certified welder?

No. This is a construction careers course. The goal of the course is to give graduates a leg up to become a construction apprentice. You will get hands-on exposure to the different trades, but this course does not teach you specific skills like carpentry or welding.

Do I need a driver's license?

If you don't have one now, you should have a clear plan and timeline to get one. Most construction employers and apprenticeship require a valid California driver's license before you are allowed to start work.

You should also be aware that most construction jobs start at 6 or 7 am and may be a long distance from where you live. Reliable transportation is a must for working in construction.

I live outside of Santa Clara County. Can I still apply?

Maybe – this is on a case by case basis. If you're interested, call or attend an information session and talk individually with the program coordinator.

Keep in mind that the classes will be held in San Jose, and you are expected to attend all classes and be on time. There may be a similar program closer to where you live. Click here for a list of recommended pre-apprenticeship programs in other Bay Area counties.

I have a DACA work permit. Can I still apply?

Yes.

I'm interested, but the upcoming class schedule doesn't work for me. Can I attend just some of the classes and skip the dates that I can't attend?

No. You must attend all classes in order to graduate.

There are 3 to 4 TOP classes held each year. If the current class schedule does not work for you, you can apply now and indicate that you would like us to hold your application for a future class.

Will this class prepare me for the IBEW apprenticeship test/the Plumbers test/the Sheet Metal Workers test/another apprenticeship program's aptitude exam?

While we don't teach directly to the test, the program includes 40 hours of basic construction math instruction which is designed to help you brush up on the types of mathematics that are needed for the apprenticeship exams, from arithmetic up through pre-algebra and basic geometry.

You will also learn and practice interviewing techniques. Nearly every construction apprenticeship requires to you interview, either with the apprenticeship staff or with prospective employers. The class will give you exposure to the unique aspects of construction industry interviews and help you to practice and gain confidence.

Have a different question? Email lauerhahn@wpusa.org.

Looking for general info on construction careers and apprenticeship programs? Visit calapprenticeship.org.

Similar Programs in Other Regions

The Trades Orientation Program is available to people who live or work in Santa Clara County, California.

If you live in San Mateo County: Contact the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance to learn how to apply to the Trades Introduction Program (TIP). Rayna Lehman, 650-341-7711, rlehman@uwba.org.

If you live in Alameda County: Go to cypressmandela.org or call 510-208-7350 to learn about the pre-apprenticeship courses offered at the Cypress Mandela Training Center.

If you live in Santa Cruz, Monterey, or San Benito County: Go to apprenticeprep.org to learn about the Tri-County Apprenticeship Preparation course.

If you live in San Francisco: Go to oewd.org/city-build or call (415) 401-4889 and ask about the CityBuild Academy.

If you live in Richmond, San Pablo, Berkeley or Emeryville: Call 510-621-1781 or go to ci.richmond.ca.us/1243/RichmondBUILD to learn about the RichmondBUILD program.

If you live in the North Bay (Marin, Napa, Lake, Sonoma or Solano counties): Call Cindi at Sonoma Building Trades, 707-576-7299, to find out about the North Bay Trades Introduction Program (TIP).

If you live elsewhere in California: Go to calapprenticeship.org to find contacts for apprenticeship programs in your area.