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Virginian Finds Rewarding Career Through Apprenticeship

Kristina works as an apprentice.
Kristina Williams at work. There are more than 533,000 apprenticeships across the country, with more opportunities added every day.

When Kristina Williams was accepted into the University of Virginia’s plumbing apprenticeship program, she was ready to prove herself.

“The apprenticeship is a big deal,” said Kristina, adding that only 10 people are selected annually from approximately 600 applications.

Before starting the four-year program in August 2013, the Earlysville, Virginia, native was no stranger to hands-on jobs. She previously worked at a daycare, a horse farm, and cleaned first-year dormitories at UVA. In her spare time, Kristina also helped a friend do plumbing work, which she discovered that she really enjoyed.

During the apprenticeship, Kristina experienced all aspects of plumbing, from digging ditches to jackhammering floors to repairing a broken water line in the middle of a 6-degree night. She’s also worked on high-pressure steam and deionized water systems – valuable opportunities that she says are uncommon in her field.

Kristina completed the apprenticeship in July 2017 and currently works for UVA Facilities Management as a plumber and steamfitter.

She credits the apprenticeship with a rewarding career and financial stability, and she recently purchased a new car and dream home for her and her newborn daughter. Kristina plans to pursue her plumbing license through the state, and hopes to one day become a master plumber.

"I think the biggest advantage of the apprenticeship is being able to learn and build a career and have no student loans to pay off at the end," she said. Nationally, plumbers’ mean annual wages are around $56,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are more than 533,000 apprenticeships across the country, with more opportunities added every day.


Editor’s note: Kristina’s story is one example of an effective workforce program in action. View more success stories here.

Briar Gibbons is a public affairs intern with the department’s Office of Public Affairs in Philadelphia.



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Washington DC Plumbers make $119,160 per yr.