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UA VIP graduate says program set him up for success

Andrew Fioramonti

Army Sgt. Andrew Fioramonti knew he wanted to begin a career in welding when he transitioned out of the military in 2020. 

Fioramonti was drawn to the UA VIP program because it could offer him free welding training and guaranteed job placement. 

He enrolled in Fort Cavazos Welding Class 15 in 2020 while he was still in the military. During his time in Welding Class 15, he learned the fundamentals of welding through both classroom and hands-on instruction. Andrew picture

“The VIP program set me up for success,” Fioramonti said. “I am able to provide financially for my family and I have a long-lasting career with many learned skills and upward mobility.”

 After graduating from the UA VIP program and transitioning out of the military, Fioramonti began his five-year apprenticeship program at Plumbers, Pipefitters and Welders Local 146 in Fort Worth, Texas, where he still is today. 

Now a fourth-year apprentice working for Freer Mechanical, Fioramonti admits he was nervous about transitioning from the military to a career with the UA but has no regrets now. 

“It was intimidating at first leaving a guaranteed paycheck and insurance to cover my family but it has been the second best decision of my life after the Army,” he said. “After I graduated from the UA VIP program, I contacted Local 146 Fort Worth and they provided me with a job as a pre-apprentice until the interview dates came around and I was accepted as a first-year apprentice.” 

Since he joined Local 146, Fioramonti has worked for a service mechanical company, doing various jobs, from commercial bathroom remodels to installing chill water pipes to replacing pumps and motors. 

Fioramonti recommends the UA VIP program to anyone looking to transition from the military to civilian life. The program is great for people who do not mind hard work, sweat, measurements, math fractions and critical thinking, he said. 

“I am very thankful for the VIP program,” he said. “It was a great transition out of the Army for me. The right place, the right time, the right tools with a learning attitude have helped me surpass most of my peers in performance. I just recently attended the annual UA plumbing competition and it was one of the best experiences I have had in the trades so far. If you are hungry and want to succeed, you will surpass 90 percent of all other apprentices.” 

A civilian career with the UA 

The UA VIP program is a DOD SkillBridge program created to help active-duty service members smoothly transition out of the military and into a civilian career in the pipe trades. 

UA VIP graduates will be placed at a UA Local Union at an agreed-upon location to complete their five-year apprenticeship program with guaranteed job placement. 

During their time in their apprenticeships, UA VIP graduates will earn good union pay and quality health insurance including a pension and a 401K. As apprentices expand their knowledge in the trade, they will receive regular raises. 

After successfully completing their apprenticeship program, UA VIP graduates will achieve the status of journeymen, opening doors for career advancement. 

As journeymen, VIP graduates will have the opportunity to progress into other career-advancing roles, such as foreman, superintendent, UA signatory contractor, business owner, UA instructor and more. 

The UA VIP program offers 118 days of advanced training in welding, HVACR or fire suppression at seven military installations across the U.S. 

Anyone interested in applying for the UA VIP program is encouraged to visit the website for more information.