Traditional Trades Advancement Program

Logo with the words "Traditional Trades Advancement Program" around the outside, a house, and two tools within the logo.

Program Overview


Over the course of a 20-week immersive experience, TTAP participants preserve cultural resources and crucial infrastructure of national park sites, and in so doing, preserve craft skills necessary for ensuring these sites continue to inspire and educate the next generation.

Participants begin their experience with training in historic preservation and construction basics and continue by working in the field in a national park under the leadership of a NPS skilled preservationist.

In addition, participants will gain practical, hands-on experience which will provide the foundation for a career in historic preservation.

In 2021, the TTAP program created the first Indian Youth Service Corps cohort dedicated to connecting Native American youth with historic preservation projects in national parks. To learn more about this program, visit: Indian Youth Service Corps - Historic Preservation Training Center (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
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Duration:
1 minute, 31 seconds

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

Who Can Apply

  • 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.
Note: This is an internship position; no prior experience is required to participate in the TTAP Program.

How to Apply

Are you interested in joining TTAP? Awesome! TTAP positions are advertised year round. The following locations are currently recruiting for TTAP member positions:

Mid-Atlantic

West

Applicant's Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.
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 sash, 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.

Contact

Questions? Contact our team at hptc_learning@nps.gov

What's it like?

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

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

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Duration:
43 seconds

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

From TTAP to NPS

A number of former TTAP participants are now full-time NPS employees! Hear from them how the program changed their lives!
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Duration:
2 minutes, 43 seconds

Pat Sutton talks about his experience in the Traditional Trades Advancement Program and how it led to a career with the National Park Service.

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Duration:
1 minute, 7 seconds

Heather Alexander first started working in historic preservation as a participant in the Traditional Trades Advancement Program. Since completing TTAP, Heather has joined the NPS full-time. We caught up with her to hear about the experience from her perspective.