As the wife of a sheet metal worker, Lou Long, the trade coordinator for Lane Community College’s sheet metal apprenticeship program, has seen first-hand how rewarding a career in the sheet metal industry can be.
“If you like feeling at the end of the day that you’ve accomplished something and it looks good and you feel good about what you’ve done, then that would be a good starting point,” Long says to aspiring sheet metal workers.
She’s been working with sheet metal apprentices for 25 years and acts as the administrator for Lane Community College’s Area 3 Sheet Metal/HVAC JATC 3025, helping sheet metal students connect with the sheet metal industry.
“A sheet metal apprenticeship is a four-year on-the-job training program with four years of schooling. There’s 12 terms of education involved. The schooling is done two nights a week in addition to working a full eight-hour day, 40-hour week,” Long says. “They learn how to install heating and air conditioning systems in commercial and residential applications.”
Some sheet metal apprentices will learn architectural sheet metal, which is metal roofing, and if they don’t get this training on the job, they’ll receive schooling on it, she notes.
Currently, Lane Community College’s program has 12 companies that are approved training agents, Long says.
“How it works here in Oregon is that all of our committees have a pool of qualified applicants. That pool is valid for two years and if we empty it prior to that two years, we re-open as often as we need to,” she says.
A potential applicant would contact Lane to be put on her list. When the pool opens, she reaches out and sends them to her website, NW Apprenticeship, to fill out the application. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, must be a high school graduate or have a GED, and they need to have had one year of high school or college equivalent algebra with a C or better.
“If they meet all of the qualifications, they go into a ranked pool of applicants,” Lane notes, and then she dispatches from the list for interviews according to the ranking.
Joining the sheet metal industry is perfect for someone who enjoys being outdoors and isn’t a fan of sitting at a desk, she says. But it’s more than that.
“It opens the door to a lifelong career with a decent pay scale,” Long says. Plus, sheet metal students graduate without debt since they pay for their classes as they go, she adds.
Sheet metal apprentices must conduct 8,000 hours of on-the-job training per year. In addition, they must complete a minimum of 144 hours of related training annually.
The class training for the sheet metal apprenticeship includes:
- Intro to Sheet Metal
- Basic Layout
- Blue Print reading
- Architectural Sheet Metal
- Duct Design
- General Fabrication
- Shop Fabrication
- Project Management
For more information on Lane Community College’s sheet metal apprenticeship, visit lanecc.edu or visit NW Apprenticeship for more information on apprenticeship opportunities.