For Recruits

For Recruits2024-01-23T17:35:36-05:00



Forget the dead-end jobs.

You’ve found your career and a path to a great life.

  • Are you looking for a career that offers great pay, great benefits, union support, incredible flexibility and lifetime access to unlimited training?
  • Do you want to learn from the best and earn like the rest?
  • Do you want to avoid student loans, dead-end jobs, inflexible hours and other bad alternatives?
  • Do you want to be part of a team that wins together?

Crafting futures

Trade Show Carpentry, a 4-year college degree or the gig economy

Choose your path wisely!

  • The average students in the DC Maryland and Virginia area leaves college with $30,000+ of loan debt
  • The average student in the 491 footprint leaves college with $30,000+ of loan debt.


  • After a 3 year union apprenticeship, with Local 491, trade show carpenters start their careers with $0 in debt
  • After three years of apprenticeship, carpenters enter their career with $0 in debt
  • What about working in the‘gig economy’?
  • What about contract work or joining the ‘Gig-economy’?
Apprentices start at $23.80 an hour and jump to $34.00 an hour as a journeyperson.
Amazing benefits like health insurance, retirement, vacation fund, and union support. Our members contribute ZERO DOLLARS from their paychecks to the cost of benefits.

Our members enjoy an annual vacation fund.

Our teammates arrive at each job focused on the work and delivering great customer service. No distractions here.

Incredible flexibility with the opportunity to work in various locations and enjoy a variety of challenges and rewards. Weekends mean automatic overtime for our members.

Our members work in a variety of locations — safe, clean and secure. And you’ll be part of a team that focuses on working together and sharing experiences.

You’ll have access to unlimited training, mentoring and guidance from experienced carpenters. You also may be presented opportunities for leadership and communications education classes presented by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Because you’ll learn valuable skills that are in high demand, you’ll be in demand! In fact, you’ll have lifetime access to free training to add skills that can boost your pay.


Let our members tell you what you’re missing

“I love everything about my career as a Trade Show Carpenter and it works perfectly for family.”

Donna Borton, MEMBER SINCE 2016

“What do I love about my apprenticeship with Local 491? For starters, I’m never bored.”

Kyler Gossen

“I’ve worked a lot of jobs but haven’t had these type of benefits!”

Aaron Lewis

Why Trade Show Carpentry? Simple: “It’s the greatest job you can have!”

Steward Darrell Wallace

“There’s nothing like it! Trade Show allows me to earn like I have a college degree.”

Precious Armstrong


‘It’s a cool ride.’ The fun, exciting side of being a Local 491 trade show carpenter2023-12-14T16:03:42-05:00

Local 491 provides its trade show carpenters a competitive salary and a stable income, excellent benefits and long-term job security with both a pension and annuity plan. But is it fun? Yes!

As one longtime member said, “It’s a cool ride.”

The world of a trade show carpenter is ever-changing, with a new show or event setup just around the corner. Gain the satisfaction of creating an event with a “Wow” factor in just five days, then take it down in two days and move on to the next job. Help build the coolest shows in town – the Washington, D.C., Auto Show; the Awesome Con pop culture show; and premier sports events such as the MLB All-Star Game and the CIAA Basketball Tournament. Be at the center of the action and have a front-row seat at the most sought after events on the East Coast.

When a friend or new acquaintance asks what you do for work, you can proudly answer “I’m a trade show carpenter.” You can impress them with highlights of your work, talk about the team you’re a part of and educate them on the excellent pay and benefits you earn by being part of the union.

Get busy building a career you can be passionate about. Join Local 491 today!

Will I have the opportunity to learn new skills and advance my career?2023-12-14T16:03:43-05:00

Absolutely. Training is a foundational principle of Local 491, starting with the comprehensive 3-year apprenticeship program and ongoing free lifetime training available to all members. Learn new skills, earn a promotion and have the opportunity to boost your earnings potential throughout your career as a union member.

What is the culture and work environment of Local 491?2023-12-14T16:03:44-05:00

One of the best things about being a Local 491 trade show carpenter is the camaraderie and team-based culture. You learn to work together with your fellow carpenters to achieve success and be part of an experienced, professional team. There also is satisfaction in working with your hands and creating a new buildout at a show or convention.

Local 491 welcomes and actively recruits a diverse workforce. This is a terrific opportunity for women and men, young and old, with members from all educational backgrounds welcome. Safety in the workplace is a core value of the union, and training is plentiful and ongoing, ensuring members feel comfortable and confident doing the work. Leadership and advanced communication skills are included because the union believes in developing a complete professional, one who demonstrates both technical ability and soft skills. This isn’t just a job; it’s a family, one that is proud of its diversity and inclusion.

What is a typical work schedule for a trade show carpenter?2023-12-14T16:03:45-05:00

Being a trade show carpenter offers union members a great deal of flexibility and an excellent work-life balance. The apprenticeship program is generally a 3-year program, and while apprentices do not have the same flexibility as full journeyperson members to choose which jobs they work, they still enjoy an excellent work-life balance, with overtime paid for any work over eight hours a day.

Weekend work is common, but so are off-days, and generally the summer and winter months are slower, with union members free to spend time with family and friends, pursue other interests and even work a second job. And again, weekend work is considered overtime.

The 9-to-5 grind you hear so many of your friends complaining about? It doesn’t exist as a member of Local 491. Schedule flexibility and work-life balance are not only attainable but are the norm. Work the jobs you want to work, and take personal time when you want it. It’s all possible.

Do trade show carpenters earn a competitive salary & benefits?2023-12-14T16:03:46-05:00

Trade show carpenters earn excellent salaries and enjoy a premier benefits package that includes full medical, dental and vision care with no paycheck contributions, with family plans available in addition to individual plans. Our members also enjoy pay increases twice a year.

Wages start at $23.80 per hour for first-year apprentices as part of the union’s earn-while-you-learn approach to building a stable, rewarding, long-term career.

Apprentices spend 160 hours per year in the classroom learning the trade. Unlike when attending a traditional college, apprentices do not accumulate debt during what is typically a 3-year program, and they enjoy full union membership benefits.

Upon completion of the program, members become certified journeyperson carpenters and can earn a contract-guaranteed $34 per hour. Specialty roles – riggers, foremen and forewomen – earn even more. Contractor partners of Local 491 also look to union members first to fill leadership positions, including forepersons and stewards, so opportunities for advancement are plentiful. Overtime is based on time worked over a regular 8-hour daily shift, and weekend work is automatically overtime, at 1.5 times the hourly rate. Annual pay can range from $75,000 to $100,000.

What is the process for joining Local 491?2023-12-21T08:09:44-05:00

Becoming a Local 491 member is easy and starts with an apprenticeship. New apprenticeship cohorts are selected each month. Start by completing this application form, and a representative from our state-of-the-art training facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, will be in touch with next steps. All applicants will need to pass an in-person math test at the training facility and participate in an employment interview and a drug screening. Click here to see a sample math test.

Who are the Local 491 trade show carpenters?2023-12-14T16:03:48-05:00

Trade Show Carpenters Local 491 of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council is a local union comprised of about 700 men and women who build all the indoor setups for the conventions and other major events that happen in the Washington-Baltimore region.

  • Some of those events include:
  • The Washington, D.C., Auto Show
  • The White House Correspondents’ Dinner
  • The Maryland Bridal & Wedding Expo
  • The Presidential Inauguration
  • The Marine Corps Marathon

The union is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which began in 1881 and continues to thrive today. Local 491 provides stability and excellent benefits to its members and is looking to increase its numbers in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The trade show and convention business continues to grow as more people return to work and play following the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the Washington, D.C., Convention Center is already booked for the next three years.

You look like a trade show carpenter.

There’s a lifelong career for you here – one that’s fun and exciting.

Our members start the first day of their apprenticeship making a wage and benefits package that far exceeds what you’ll find in the gig economy or as a service worker.

In addition to great pay, healthcare benefits, an annuity and a pension, our members enjoy incredible flexibility and have access to unlimited free training for life, programs that lead to certifications and new skills — all of which can increase pay across your career.

The Benefits

  • Great Members.
  • Great Carpenters.
  • Great Pay.
  • Great Benefits.
  • Great Experiences.
  • Great Flexibility.
Start your journey today

Apply now to change your life

Join Local 491.

Entry-level Application Form
Do you have a driver's license?
Do you have regular access to a vehicle to get TO and FROM work?
Ethnic Classification
Have High School Diploma or GED?
Trade show carpenters need basic math skills. We’ll set up an in-person testing day for you. View our Sample Math Test so you will know what to expect.

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