There are many benefits to joining the carpenters union. You will get paid a fair wage (even while training), have health benefits paid on your behalf, and when you retire you will have a pension to fall back on. You will also receive excellent training both on-the-job and in the classroom/shop.
The union carpenter is one of the most versatile union trades. You could work in power plants or refineries erecting scaffolding. You could work on bridges doing forms and concrete work. You could be outside on large boom lifts installing metal panels, siding, soffits/fascia, windows, or even framing buildings. You could be inside on a scissor lift installing acoustical ceiling tile, drywall, or insulation. You could also be on the ground installing doors, casework, countertops, and trim. Then there are all kinds of specialty items that you could install like bathroom partitions, bathroom accessories, furniture, shelving, solar panels, acoustic panels, laboratory casework, and much more.
One common misconception: union carpenters don't build cabinets, they install cabinets. If that is something you would be interested in doing, then you would have to find a cabinet maker to work for - and some are indeed union shops.
There are many ways to inquire about joining. You can talk to possible union employers, other union members, or even talk to your local business agent; all of which are a great start. However, they will eventually point you in the direction of the Apprenticeship & Training Program Campus located in Pekin, Illinois. Click the link below and it will take you to their website!
It is wise before applying that you gather ALL of the following documents: Birth Certificate, Official High School Transcripts (NOT DIPLOMA), and a Valid Driver's License. You will also need to pass a drug screening.
You can apply first, however the application process could be delayed and you could possibly lose a position with a potential employer if you haven't gathered everything you need or can't pass a drug screening!
The great thing is you can join with no experience, some experience, or years of experience. It is highly recommended to reach out to the local business agent or the Pekin Campus to see if you could either test in as a journeyman or as a higher apprentice.
There are also several programs that the Union participates in such as high school classes that could potentially let you start at a higher pay scale. All this information can be found out by calling the Pekin Campus or your local business agent.
Depending on what county you reside in, below is a list of the local Union halls where the business agents work.
Local 243, phone: 217-356-5463
Local 237, phone: 309-698-1830
Local 270, phone: 217-428-0957
If you don't see your county, call any one of those locals and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.