What is the UA Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program?
The United Association Veterans in Piping (VIP) Program is a DOD SkillBridge program for transitioning active-duty military service members which provides 18-weeks (720 hours) of accelerated training. UA VIP equips transitioning active-duty service members with hands-on-training, industry recognized certifications and educational resources to develop the skills required to be successful in the UA registered apprenticeship program, which ultimately leads to productive and rewarding careers in the mechanical construction industry.
What trades are offered in the VIP program?
The VIP Program offers courses in Fire Suppression, Pipe Fitting/Welding and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR). These are three separate courses focusing on different disciplines within the UA.
Can I pursue more than one VIP course?
The VIP courses prepare you for an UA apprenticeship that is focused on becoming an HVACR Technician, Pipefitter Welder or Fire Suppression. Therefore, it is important that you pick the course that best reflects the type of work that you are most interested in performing in the field as an apprentice.
What are the eligibility requirements?
You must be on active-duty and in your 180-day transition window when the VIP course begins and ends.
Applicants must be: fully vaccinated for COVID-19, possess a strong work ethic, able to stand for long periods of time, able to lift 50 pounds and have a valid driver’s license.
Additionally, HVACR applicants will need to provide a three-year driving abstract that reflects a clean driving record; applicants with multiple tickets or a DUI will not be considered for the HVACR program.
Do I need any pipe trades experience to join the UA VIP?
There is no experience required. The VIP Program is designed to prepare students with little-to-no experience in the pipe trades for an apprenticeship with the United Association.
What if I am located at a military installation that does not host a VIP program? Can I still apply for the VIP program?
Yes, transitioning active-duty service members from all branches of the service are eligible to apply for the VIP program despite not being stationed at a VIP program host military installation.
There are nine VIP programs located on seven different military installations, which are open to applicants from all branches of the Armed Forces.
Please contact your local Career Skills Program office to learn about specific eligibility requirements for application to a DOD SkillBridge program. If your local CSP program office requires additional documentation from VIP, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
How much does the program cost to participate?
The VIP program is 100 percent free of cost to participants of the program and the Department of Defense. The VIP program is paid in full by the members of the United Association and our partner contractors.
Does the VIP program require use of my GI Bill benefits?
There are no fees passed down to participants, so there is no need to use your GI-Bill while in the VIP program. Once you graduate and start your apprenticeship, you may then access your GI-Bill benefits, if you choose.
What is the VIP application process?
Each branch of service has their own application requirements and processes for service members applying for DOD SkillBridge programs. Service members wishing to apply for VIP should:
Men and women interested in applying for UA VIP should gather basic information from this website to share with your Chain of Command about the specific VIP program in which you are interested. VIP informational flyers are available to include with your application package by clicking here.
Consult with your local Transition Office or Education Office for Service for specific SkillBridge application/enrollment guidance. See below for more information on specific branch requirements.
Obtain written approval from your unit commander of permanent assignment prior to commencement of interviews.
For additional information regarding applying for participation in SkillBridge Programs, Airmen should consult the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC) SkillBridge page.
Before any individual Soldier contacts any SkillBridge/Career Skills Program (CSP) providers directly to inquire about application details, and before seeking Commander approval, all interested Soldiers must first review the IMCOM CSP page and then contact SkillBridge/CSP officials at firstname.lastname@example.org for further instructions on next steps.
Sailors desiring to participate in SkillBridge must register and apply for SkillBridge approval using the application portal via MyNavy Education at https://myeducation.netc.navy.mil. Application portal instructions can be found at https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Career-Management/Transition/SkillBridge/.
If your command requires a Conditional Letter of Acceptance from the VIP Program, please contact James Kinney via email JKinney@uanet.org with your request.
Marines interested in the SkillBridge Program should first review the Marine Corp FAQ (downloadable DOCX). If you still have questions about the VIP program or would like to participate, you can visit the VIP website by clicking here.
Each Coast Guard command provides approval to local SkillBridge participation. Members are advised to at minimum follow the steps below:
Prior to pursing program enrollment or command approval, review Commandant Instruction 1040.7 policy document on the Resources page of the DOD SkillBridge website to ensure you meet minimum eligibility requirements.
Visit the VIP website to learn more about program specific eligibility requirements, start dates, training duration, enrollment protocol, etc. The VIP program locations and class dates can be found on the VIP website by clicking here.
Once you have determined eligibility, and identified a program of interest, submit a request through your chain of command for "permission to participate" in training. Required documentation and request routing protocol vary by command so consult with your designated command representative for details. If your command is requiring additional documents from VIP, please email email@example.com with your request.
Maintain a copy of approval documentation signed by your unit commander in personal files for reference as necessary and provide a copy to the VIP POC for review and final acceptance as appropriate. Contact the Transition Office for additional transition assistance support (resume, interview preparation, job search, application assistance, etc.).
Do I need command approval to participate in the VIP program?
Yes. Once your application is approved by your command, please forward a copy to the POC for the VIP program that you are applying for. Application POC’s for each VIP program location are located on our VIP informational flyers for each installation. Click here to download the flyer for your program location.
Does entrance to the VIP Program require an interview?
Yes. Once we receive your application, we will notify you of your in-person interview date, time and location. Interviews are normally scheduled 30 days prior to the start of the class for which you are applying. If you will be unable to attend the interview due to deployment/training schedules, please request a virtual interview from your POC when you turn in your application.
How long after the interview will I be notified regarding my status in the program?
Applicants will be notified via email regarding the outcome of their interview within one week.
How has COVID-19 impacted the VIP program?
In the interest of safety, the VIP program has adopted a COVID-19 preparedness plan to identify mitigation factors, operational procedures and a requirement that all students and staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Does the UA VIP Program help me find a job after transitioning from the military?
Yes. The VIP program provides nationwide job placement and direct entry into the UA's five-year apprenticeship program for all participants who successfully complete the program. During week six of the 18-week program, students will complete a VIP Placement Request Form (PRF). On this PRF, students provide the desired date to begin employment as well as two different geographical areas in which employment is acceptable. We work very hard to get all VIPs placed in their most desirable location. However, if there is not work available at your top pick, we need to know that you will be flexible enough to accept an offer in a secondary location.
Where can I work upon completion of the UA VIP program?
The UA has 242 Local Unions located across the U.S. UA Local Unions have jurisdiction in all 50 states, and some states have multiple unions located throughout the state, while others may have only one Local Union that covers an entire state. Local Union jurisdictional areas can be tricky so do not be concerned if you cannot identify a Local Union in the exact city and state you want to live. Often the jurisdictional area of the Local Union will include many cities other than the one in which they are located. What is important to us, is for you to tell us where you want to live and we will try our best to get you there. UA Local Union locations can be viewed on the UA’s website by clicking here.
What type of jobsites do VIP graduates work on?
The UA is present in many important sectors of our economy. Skilled UA members touch virtually every aspect of people’s lives, from homes to schools to businesses. Click here to see a few of the major markets where UA members are at work.
What certifications can be earned in the VIP program?
Students in the VIP welding/pipefitting program will have the opportunity to earn certifications in safety (OSHA-30) and pipe welding (SMAW and GTAW).
Students in the HVACR program will have the opportunity to earn certifications in safety (OSHA-30, first aid and CPR), safe refrigerant handling (EPA608 & R410a) and brazing (UA51).
VIP Fire Suppression students will have the opportunity to earn certifications in safety (OSHA-30 and first aid), personnel equipment usage (Scissor and Articulating Aerial Lifts) and tool operation (T-Drill, Pipe Threading and Grooving).
What happens after I graduate the VIP program?
VIP graduates will have the opportunity to directly enter the UA five-year apprenticeship program in an agreed upon location nationwide. UA apprentices earn great pay and benefits while working through the five-year apprenticeship program, apprentices are most often paired with a journeyman to receive on the job training while working on various construction projects in their area. Apprentices are also required to attend apprenticeship classes, typically held at night during the week, in which apprentices engage in a mixture of lecture and hands-on training gaining knowledge and skills that they can apply on the job sites.
What happens after I complete the UA's registered apprenticeship program?
Once you have completed your apprenticeship and become a journeyman in the UA there are numerous opportunities for career progression including foreman, general foreman or even a superintendent. You can also become an Officer in your Local Union or perhaps a contractor working for yourself. The possibilities for growth within the union are endless for anyone determined to do the work.
Do I have to complete the apprenticeship program in the same location that I started?
Yes. It is important that you select a job placement location that you plan to reside in throughout the duration of the five-year apprenticeship program.
Am I required to join the union after I graduate the VIP program?
Upon successful completion of this program graduates will have earned the privilege of direct entry and job placement with the UA. While it is not a requirement to join the union, it is the hope of over 350,000 UA members that all VIPs choose to affiliate with the UA upon completion of the VIP program. The UA is looking for individuals interested in pursuing a career with the UA. Please note, VIP class seats are limited, so we ask all applicants to be as committed to joining the UA as the UA is to be providing this opportunity.
How much will I get paid?
The pay scale and benefits are determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement that each Local Union makes with their respective signatory contractors. Compensation varies across the country.
VIP Program earns DOL HIRE VETS Platinum Award
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh recognized the UA International Training Fund’s Veterans In Piping (VIP) Program as one of the select recipients of the 2022 HIRE Vets Medallion Award during a virtual award ceremony presented by the DOL.
The UA ITF’s VIP Program earned the Platinum Award, the highest possible tier.
The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act) Medallion Program is the only federal award program that recognizes employers who demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to attracting, hiring and retaining veterans.
The VIP Program was recognized as a program that has not only shown a commitment to support veterans as they transition out of the military, but also to ensure veterans have a long-term career and growth plan that uses the diverse skills they acquired through their military service, the 18-week training program and guaranteed job placement upon graduation with a Local JATC across the U.S.
Recipients of the 2022 HIRE Vets Medallion Award meet rigorous employment and veteran integration assistance criteria, including veteran hiring and retention percentages; availability of veteran-specific resources; leadership programming for veterans; dedicated human resource efforts; pay compensation and tuition assistance programs for veterans.