Do I need construction experience?
No! Just interest and willingness to learn.
Which construction trades can TOP help me get into?
TOP provides an introduction and support in applying to all of the 24+ skilled construction trades apprenticeships that serve the South Bay. For a list of Joint Apprenticeship Training Centers that we partner with, see https://scbtc.org/training-centers/
Is construction just for men?
Not at all! People of all genders who want to work with their hands, learn new skills and work on a team can find great success in a construction trades apprenticeship. See this Tradeswomen Inc. site for short videos created by women in various construction trades talking about their work: https://tradeswomen.org/various-trades/
Do you cover electricians / plumbers / carpenters / welding / 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, ironworkers, carpentry, commercial and residential electricians, sheet metal and HVAC, operating engineers, roofing and waterproofing, commercial painting, construction laborers, floorlaying and many more.
The TOP class does not focus on architecture, home improvements, engineering, sales, or on getting a contractor’s license. If you are seeking one of these careers, we recommend you contact your local Community College.
Will TOP teach me to remodel my house? Will it help me find work as a handyman?
No. This is a construction careers program. The goal of TOP is to give graduates a leg up to become a construction apprentice. You will get hands-on exposure to the different trades, but TOP does not teach you specific skills like carpentry or welding.
Once you successfully get into a specific construction trade apprenticeship and begin work, that apprenticeship will teach you all the skills you need for that trade, through a combination of on-the-job training and supplemental classroom instruction.
Do you cover any jobs that do not require physical labor?
No. TOP is focused on skilled construction trades which perform hands-on work on construction jobsites.
Do I need a driver’s license?
Yes, a valid California driver’s license is required for TOP. If you don’t have one now, you can still attend an application session, but you must show proof of a valid drivers’ license before you can start the program. A CA ID, passport, or other substitutes are not accepted.
A restricted driver’s license is acceptable, as long as you are allowed to drive to school and work.
Most construction employers 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 am formerly incarcerated or have past convictions on my record. Can I still apply?
Yes, absolutely. TOP does not exclude anyone based on past record of involvement with the justice system, and neither do union construction apprenticeships.
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?
Can I work while participating in TOP?
Yes, many TOP participants have a part-time or full-time job while participating. Getting into a skilled trades apprenticeship can be a long process, sometimes a year or more, so it is important to be able to support yourself financially during that time. If you need a job to pay the bills while working towards your long-term career, TOP partner work2future offers jobseeker services that all TOP participants can access.
I’m interested, but the upcoming program schedule doesn’t work for me. Can I attend just some of the classes and skip the dates that I can’t attend? Or can I just do the classes and skip the job coaching?
No. You must attend all classes in order to graduate, as well as participating in one-on-one job coaching for 12 months.
There are 3 to 4 TOP cohorts held each year. If the current schedule does not work for you, you can apply now and indicate that you would like us to hold your application for a future cohort.
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. We also have a partnership with Campbell Adult Community Education (CACE) to provide additional apprenticeship math test prep to participants who want to go beyond the initial 40 hours.
You will also learn and practice interviewing techniques. Nearly every construction apprenticeship requires you to interview, either with the apprenticeship staff or with prospective employers. TOP 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 email@example.com.
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). You can also contact Jenni Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.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 415-701-4817 and ask about the CityBuild Academy.
If you live in Richmond, San Pablo, Berkeley or Emeryville: Call 510-621-1780 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): Visit https://learnaconstructionjob.org/ to find out about the North Bay Trades Introduction Program (TIP).
If you live in the Central Valley (Fresno, San Joaquin, Madera, Tulare, Kings, Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Kern, Inyo, or Mono County): Visit https://valleybuild.net/ to learn about the ValleyBuild pre-apprenticeship program.
If you live elsewhere in California: Go to calapprenticeship.org to find contacts for apprenticeship programs in your area.