Course Overview

The content of the course will be dependent on the resources available to you as well as the requirements of your local industry employers and the skill level of your participants.  What follows describes the program as it is currently operated, but it is by no means a rigid formula provided that all the essential elements are present.

To accommodate working women, classes have historically met on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:30 and on Saturdays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Math and test preparation, workplace readiness, and physical conditioning are typically offered during the week, with Saturdays reserved for hands-on training.

The course as described in this curriculum runs for 170 hours, approximately on-third of which are devoted to hands-on experience. The goal of this component is not to produce a skilled electrician or carpenter, but to expose women to as many career opportunities as possible while teaching and reinforcing the basic skills common to all the trades.  In the process of making a small piece of duct work,  for example, students will practice measuring and drafting,  while learning to identify and safely use a half dozen or more new tools. Though limited, it is intended that through these experiences, participants will be able select those trades best suited to their talents and preferences, acquire the confidence and basic skills needed to succeed as a new apprentice, and credibly describe their interest and experience to apprenticeship program committees and/or employers. Approximately 36 hours are devoted to math and  test preparation with the goal of  assisting participants in passing entrance exams and building the foundational skills required of new apprentices.  Physical conditioning, which includes varied weight lifting and aerobic exercise is held two hours per week for a total of 24 hours. Though not beyond the physical capacity of most healthy women, strength and endurance are essential for success in this industry and nearly all participants can benefit from guided exercise as they prepare for this transition. Finally, the remaining hours are devoted to workplace readiness instruction, which in addition to providing women with the information they need to compete for and succeed in the industry, works to assist participants in building the emotional strength and support networks needed to thrive in a nontraditional environment.

Math & Test Preparation


  • Whole number review
  • Measuring
  • Perimeter and area
  • Exponents and square roots
  • Fractions, all operations
  • Decimals, all operations
  • Percentages, including practical problems.
  • Ratio and proportion problems
  • Feet and inches
  • Basic algebra

Other Test Preparation

  • Spatial visualization
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Mechanical reasoning
  • Reading/vocabulary
  • Test taking skills

Workplace Readiness

  • Understanding the construction industry
  • Goal setting
  • Budgeting
  • Resume development
  • Interviewing
  • Self-esteem building activities
  • Sexual harassment prevention
  • Career exploration
  • Journaling
  • Map reading
  • Interview with a tradeswoman
  • Job readiness kit.

Basic Construction Skills & Hands-On Experience

  • Measuring
  • Blue print reading
  • Safety
  • Tool recognition and use
  • Carpentry
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Pipefitting (welding)
  • Sheet metal working
  • Bricklaying
  • Other as available

Physical Fitness

  • Aerobics
  • Weight lifting
  • Nutrition
  • Proper lifting techniques