What is the UA National Apprentice Competition? 

One way to find some of the best talent that utilizes their education from training is to pit them against each other in a competition. The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) does this by holding its annual National Apprentice Competition. The winners get noticed by contractors, which can help them get recruited for the next step in their careers.   

Held every year in August, the UA contest brings the brightest fifth-year apprentices from across the world together, to compete in categories where they’ve been training and have attended classes in their disciplines. There are five different categories in the competition, where each district provides their best technician:  

  • HVAC-R  
  • Plumbing  
  • Pipefitting  
  • Sprinkler Fitting  
  • Welding  

To make it to the National Apprentice Competition, contestants must qualify by first competing at local in-house competitions. If successful, they move through regional and district levels. The national level is a week-long competition, where contestants will be tested on their skills, knowledge, and abilities through a series of challenges including hands-on projects, a written test, and interviews.   

Importance of Competition   

The contest brings out the competitive streak in participants, which encourages everyone to push themselves to be their best. It also shows how they deal with pressure during this competition to the judges, who could be these apprentices’ future employers. The goal is to find a national winner every year in each category who judges deem to be the most complete fifth-year apprentice. These winners are chosen throughout the entire UA—which even includes Australia and Ireland! Local 449’s Director of Building Trades Education, Tom Doran, has worked closely with this apprenticeship competition process for many years.

“There is a lot of talent we see during these competitions, beginning at the local, in-house level, and ending at the national level. Many of the winners at these competitions go on to teach these trades at facilities like ours,” said Doran. “Their expertise allows them to not only give back but contribute to the success and growth of our trades and keep us prospering for another 100 years.”  

If you’re interested in becoming a Steamfitter, learn more about how to apply for our apprenticeship program here.