Martinze Johnson takes part in a training program at the Northwest Carpenters Institute of Washington center in Kent. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Martinze Johnson takes part in a training program at the Northwest Carpenters Institute of Washington center in Kent. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Workers find success in Kent apprenticeship carpenter program

Good pay, lifelong trade skills, enjoyable work sites among the benefits

Enthusiasm filled Brett Easter when he described whether people should consider becoming an apprenticeship carpenter as he did shortly after graduating from high school.

“Absolutely, go for it,” Easter said during a brief break from a recent class at the Kent-based Northwest Carpenters Institute of Washington. “I was able to buy my first home before I could buy my first beer.”

Easter, 22, of Enumclaw, grew up in Covington and graduated in 2019 from Kentlake High School. A friend recommended he try the carpenter apprenticeship program.

“This career is lucrative enough that I bought my own house at 20 in Enumclaw,” Easter said. “That’s how I ended up out there.”

An apprentice with no experience makes $30.86 per hour with full benefits and a pension paid by the contractor, said Marianna Hyke, outreach coordinator for Northwest Carpenters Institute. If the apprentice meets minimum work hours and class requirements every six months, the pay jumps 5%. Once the apprentice moves up to journeyman, pay can reach $51 per hour.

Northwest Carpenters Institute has about 1,800 apprentices across the state, Hyke said. In addition to the Kent training center, 20424 72nd Ave. S., the program has facilities in Renton at Renton Technical College and in DuPont, Burlington, Kennewick and Spokane.

About 40 apprentices per month enter the program, which is four years for most of the jobs. The jobs include carpenter, millwright, pile driver, drywall finisher, trade show specialist, scaffold erector and interior systems carpenter.

Easter spends most of the program working job sites. Apprentices also must attend a certain number of classes or training courses with most completing the program in four years.

Although he works drywall now, Easter previously did framing. Those skills have taken him to a variety of job sites. He worked on new construction at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle University and the Amazon towers in Bellevue. He recently worked for a smaller construction company at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

“Some guys did remodeling at the Space Needle or you could be in your hometown remodeling a Starbucks,” Easter said.

Martinze Johnson, 30, of Seattle, has just one year left in the apprenticeship program. A friend helped him get into the program. He’s done drywall and lots of framing.

“We do Google buildings, Microsoft buildings, lots of apartments, towers,” Johnson said. “Microsoft in Redmond is like 88 acres with multiple buildings.”

Johnson likes working on the high towers, especially a 40-story building on Denny Way in Seattle.

“You can see the whole city light up,” Johnson said. “It might be a little cold, but there’s a feeling you can get when the world seems calm when you are working 40 stories up. I fell in love with it.”

Johnson encouraged others to apply for the apprenticeship program.

“I think for the younger people you need a trade under your belt and nobody can take it from you,” Johnson said. “It’s like a degree from a four-year college, once you get it nobody can take it from you and you can go anywhere in the world.

“Trades are the best way to go if you don’t want to go to school, it’s basically hands on. You learn what you’re going to do and then apply it.”

State L&I grant

Northwest Carpenters Institute recently received a $782,875 grant from state Labor & Industries (L&I), according to a L&I press release.

More than $4.7 million in state grants is going out to support apprenticeships around the state this year, according to a L&I spokesperson. The grant amounts are based on the size of the program.

“These funds will improve apprenticeship technology, and ensure apprentices have access to the support they need to be successful,” said Celeste Monahan, assistant director of Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards. “We’re very excited for these organizations and look forward to others participating.”

There are about 200 registered apprenticeship programs in the state, according to L&I. More than 22,000 people participate in the programs, which cover some 220 occupations.

Marianna Hyke, the outreach coordinator for Northwest Carpenters Institute, applied for the grant.

“Obviously, excited,” Hyke said about her reaction to receiving the funds. “We go after a lot of grants. That’s how we fund our program. We had never gone after a grant focused on apprenticeship and remote learning, technology and support services.

“When we found out we were awarded $782,000, it’s something to get pumped up about. We were very honored.”

It’s the largest lump sum grant the group has received. The funds will be used to purchase crossed laminated timber material and equipment, virtual welders, new laptops, gas cards, work attire, work boots, rain gear and for help with union dues.

Northwest Carpenters also will use the funds to buy a 200-ton carry deck crane for the facility to help carpenters and pile driving apprentices when they participate in their classes.

Applicants wanted

Hyke said they work with community colleges, school districts and LGBTQ and Black, Indigenous and people of color groups to help find program applicants.

“We live in a pretty progressive area,” Hyke said about job opportunities for all people. “Seattle, King County, Sound Transit and WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) project contracts require to hire a certain percentage of people of color and people from economically distressed zip codes.”

Hyke said a lot of the economically distressed zip codes are in Kent.

Applicants must be at least 17 years old. They do not need a high school diploma or GED but Hyke said they encourage everyone to get a high school degree.

Applicants will fill out information online and select a trade orientation based on the craft applied for. At orientation, the applicant will be evaluated and scored on a math test as well as moving materials, hammering so many nails and taking measurements. Those scores will decide if the applicant moves to an interview.

“This is a life-changing career opportunity,” Hyke said.

For more information or to apply for an apprenticeship, go to nwci.org.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Martinze Johnson, 30, of Seattle, says it’s good to have a trade under your belt such as carpentry. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Martinze Johnson, 30, of Seattle, says it’s good to have a trade under your belt such as carpentry. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Two members of the apprenticeship program at Northwest Carpenters Institute of Washington in Kent. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Two members of the apprenticeship program at Northwest Carpenters Institute of Washington in Kent. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

More in Business

Bed, Bath & Beyond has closed its store at The Outlet Collection in Auburn after 27 years. ROBERT WHALE, Sound Publishing
t
Airways Brewing in Kent to expand patio at The Beer & Bistro Garden

Heated covering, second kitchen to be completed in June

Employees wear shirts with the big Big Chicken chicken on the back. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing.
Bok-bok: Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken opens in Renton

The restaurant had its grand opening Dec. 17.

Nana’s Southern Kitchen will give away free meals on Christmas Day at its Kent and Covington locations. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Nana’s Southern Kitchen
Nana’s Southern Kitchen to give out free meals on Christmas Day

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kent and Covington locations

t
Workers find success in Kent apprenticeship carpenter program

Good pay, lifelong trade skills, enjoyable work sites among the benefits

t
Downtown Kent business suffers major damage after attempted break in

Pawn Express employee calls it ‘traumatic’ to be crime victim after driver rams truck into store

t
Best Western in Kent receives honors at company convention

Plaza by the Green meets levels of quality, guest satisfaction and dedication to the brand standards

Kevin Flynn, right, a meat-cutter with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Flynn was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
Proposed merger of Albertsons and Kroger worries employees

Workers at an Albertsons in Marysville urge shoppers to sign a petition blocking the $25 billion deal.

t
Puget Law Group opens Kent office; sponsors Thunderbirds

Kent becomes sixth location of firm that started in 2013

t
Dick’s Drive-In breaks ground in Federal Way

Restaurant chain, which has Kent location, expects to open in summer 2023 near South 320th Street

t
Olive Tree Mediterranen Restaurant to receive Star Program honors

Kent Community Foundation program to recognize contributions to the community

t
Krusteaz Company plant in Kent finds the right mix

Facility makes mixes for pancakes, muffins, cornbread, cookies and other products