Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program

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Logo with the words "Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program" around the outside, a house, and two tools within the logo.
The National Park Service and private industry need workers with specialized skills to preserve and maintain the buildings and structures in our national parks and historic communities. To help meet this need, the NPS Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) was created.

TTAP provides hands-on, historic preservation trade skills training during an intensive five-month learning-while-working experience. TTAP allows the important work of preserving the cultural resources and crucial infrastructure of national park sites to be passed onto the next generation in a time when many employment fields are becoming obsolete through mechanization. Traditional trades in their modern form require much of the same materials, tools, ingenuity, skills, and hard work that have been required for generations and can never be replaced.
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Duration:
1 minute, 31 seconds

Youth and military veterans are invited to join the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program of the National Park Service. Learn skills, work in amazing places, and preserve the history that defines us all. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

How to Apply

Are you interested in joining TTAP? Awesome! We don't have any open positions right now, but check back again soon!

What are the crews?

Become a member of a small team, lead by a NPS preservation specialist, working to preserve historic buildings and features!

At the beginning of the program you will complete an intensive two-week basic training in historic preservation fundamentals and introductory craft construction skills. Afterwards, you’ll put those skills to work using tools and materials common in the preservation of older buildings and structures.

Work may be inside or outside, in all kinds of weather, and may involve working on scaffolding. At the end of the day you’ll walk away with the satisfaction of making a lasting impact, with highly-marketable job skills, and a great opportunity to network and build your career.

Where have crews worked lately?

The TTAP crews worked on projects at the following locations:

Eligibility Requirements

Because this program is offered through partner agreements that are a part of the the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps there are specific age requirements for these positions. Learn more about 21CSC requirements. Youth must be between 18 and 30 years of age. Veterans must be between 18 and 35 years of age, and possess a DD214 with a discharge status of Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions.

Other information

  • No prior experience required
  • Five-month commitment
  • Requires at least two weeks of traveling for training
  • You will be getting dirty and working hard, in both indoor and outdoor environments. Somedays the work will be physically demanding.
  • Requires a full commitment to meet all program requirements

What are the benefits of TTAP?

By participating in TTAP you will:
  • Build marketable job skills
  • Receive a National Center for Construction Education and Research graduation certificate
  • Have time to explore national parks
  • Feel satisfaction, because you’ve made a difference
  • Have paid experience and a lot of fun.

Applicant's Frequently Asked Questions

The Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) provides avenues for diverse young adults and veterans to learn from experts, developing trade skills and knowledge to enter the workforce, while preserving traditional trades and addressing critical maintenance projects within our National Parks.

TTAP is a 20-week program in which a participant is placed at a National Park site. During this hands-on, in-the-field opportunity, the National Park Service staff mentor provides supervision and craft skills guidance. Work tasks are dependent on the resources at the site. Example projects include masonry, carpentry, historic trail work, roofing, monument restoration and maintenance, etc.

Several key components set TTAP apart from other corps-type programs offered to veterans and young adults. First, there is a combined need to train the next generation of skilled maintenance workers on public lands and provide invaluable skills to a generation that is not always satisfied with a traditional four-year education. It is estimated that 40% of the maintenance workforce in the National Park Service are eligible to retire in the next five years. Following the successful completion of the program, participants receive Public Land Corps (PLC) hiring authority enabling them to pursue positions in federal agencies. Skills gained also translate into private sector positions in construction trades, design, and engineering.

Second, the length of the program is significantly longer than most other programs – at least 20 weeks! Learning hands-on skills takes time; weeks, months, and even decades. The elongated terms allows for more time for experience, more exposure to more tools/trades/materials, and more time to develop a sense of place and meaning within work in the NPS.

The goal of this program is to reach people that are interested in pursuing a career in the trades in the private or public sector. There are no expectations that a participant will have any background in the trades, but there is an expectation that the individual will bring with them enthusiasm and commitment to work both indoors and outdoors on projects that can be physically demanding and dirty. Some of our best participants came right out of high school; but we've had graduates in historic preservation and a licensed contractor apply because they were looking for ways to develop different trade skills and competencies.

In order to align with national initiatives, such as the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, Young Adults must be between 18 and 30 years of age. Veterans qualify up to the age of 35 years of age and must possess a DD214 with a discharge status of Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions. The program is very interested in recruiting from within communities surrounding host park sites.

No, you will be mentored by National Park Service employees but will be employed by a Conservation Corps that partners with the National Park Service. Each Corps Partner is unique and supports the program in myriad ways, including recruiting from the local community, and individual support to ensure the participant’s success. In 2020 our Partners were: American Conservation Experience, Conservation Legacy, Greening Youth Foundation, and Groundwork USA.
Yes. TTAP members will work an average of 40 hours per week. Typically, these will be 10-hour days, Monday-Thursday. Depending on what is stipulated in the partner agreements, participants earn either a weekly stipend or an hourly wage.
This 20-week program starts at the park with on-boarding tasks, site orientation, and the basic work safety necessities that lead into two-weeks of intensive training on historic preservation concepts and introductory construction craft skills. During the training the"cohort" of participants from other parks come together to interact and learn with one another. Participants then return to their respective parks to work on NPS Preservation projects and at times may be brought into their park’s greater mission, as the need arises, in order to preserve the resources at large. During their hands-on work experience, components of soft skills training (communications and employability) are delivered via the NPS Common Learning Portal. The CLP Commons has its very own discussion forum where the cohort members continue to share experiences and interact with each other, while completing coursework necessary for their National Center for Construction Education and Research certification.
Projects could vary greatly and are dependent upon the national park site where you'll be working. Work could include activities such as: repairing historic window sashes, replacing perimeter capstones on a revolutionary fort, removing old mortar and pointing walls, stabilizing barn foundations, and waxing bronze statues, restoration of historic viewshed.
By the end of your term you will have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that set the foundation for a successful career in the traditional trades. Starting with the very basics, you will be able to demonstrate safety awareness and practices in your work and the work of others.

You will understand the interrelatedness of the National Park Service Mission and Historic Preservation and their connection to traditional trades. You will gain valuable trade skills and experiences that you will use to protect and preserve our national heritage and diversity of cultures.

You will find importance of your work and the pride you feel working hard, and as contributing member of a team, motivating one another while accomplishing preservation projects and working at some of the most beautiful places in the country.

You'll gain access to a network of subject matter experts, learn about future opportunities, and how to set yourself up for the next steps. And you'll walk away with certifications to prove it!
There is no guarantee of employment when the program is completed, but the intention of the program is to build each participant's historic preservation and trade skills—skills that are uniquely sought after in the private and public sectors. Young adults completing the requirements of the the program are eligible for Public Lands Corps (PLC) Hiring Authority due to their service on public lands.

Participants will have had ample opportunity to network, learn new skills and explore potential jobs during their term of service. All of these factors make participants more likely to get hired.
Depending on the projects, work may be indoors or outdoors. You must be comfortable with working outside in varying weather conditions and sometimes at heights. You must have a willingness to work hard and get dirty. Given the nature of the program, it is important to be realistic about what you are capable of doing.
It is extremely difficult to fulfill the obligations of the program and be in school or working another job.
Yes. The only automatic disqualifiers are a murder charge/conviction and registration on the National Sex Offender Registry. Participation in the program is contingent upon passing a background check as well as a name based search in the National Sex Offender Registry. Additional checks may be requested by the park, like inquiries on your driving record, if you are required to drive a government vehicle for the position. A prior criminal record could impact your selection, but it will not immediately disqualify you. If you fail to disclose any infraction (even minor ones) on your application and it shows up on your criminal background check, you can be immediately disqualified. It is better to be forthright with this information from the beginning of the application process.

What's it like?

Hear from present and former participants in the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program.
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Duration:
1 minute

Hear more about Avery Putnam's experience with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
53 seconds

Billy talks about his experience on the TTAP crew at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
1 minute, 6 seconds

Hear more about Heather Alexander's experience with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
53 seconds

Hear more from Pat about his time on a TTAP crew at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
1 minute, 3 seconds

Hear more about Rodney Flora's experience with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
1 minute, 20 seconds

Hear more about Victor Velasco's experience with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

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Duration:
43 seconds

Hear more about Zoe Wilson's experience with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program. Video: NPS / Kristi Rugg

Last updated: August 12, 2020