Newport News Shipbuilding

Get on Board for a Future with the Newport News Shipbuilding

Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) offers 26 different trades and most programs are four-year or 8,000 hour programs.

  • Four and five-year Apprenticeships available
  • Associates degrees available in partnership with Thomas Nelson
  • Programs are a combination of noncredit, onsite classes held at with NNS Apprentice School instructors along with credit classes through Thomas Nelson
  • Entry requirements include a $35 fee to apply to the Apprentice School

Learn more about Newport News Apprentice School Courses that are equivalent to Thomas Nelson courses, helping you earn your degree faster.  

Trades Program Descriptions

Coatings Specialist X33C

Nearly every component or structural element aboard ship requires specific coatings. This is why the apprentice painter is trained in the selection and proper application of a wide variety of marine coating systems. Coatings protect the steel and other surfaces from rust and corrosion, protect the underwater portion from the attachment of marine life and enhance the general appearance of the ship. The apprentice prepares the surface, masks unpainted areas, sandblast surfaces, selects the methods of coating application and provides suitable curing conditions. In addition to modern paint application techniques, the student will work with powder coating, non-skid and other special hull treatments. The apprentice also learns to interpret paint schedules, calculate surface areas, estimate the amount of materials required, test the grade, viscosity and fineness of a paint and perform final quality inspections.

Electrician X31

An apprentice electrician, learns to install, operate and test electrical systems onboard ships. These systems include lighting, power distribution, machinery, interior communications, testing and nuclear. The apprentice will work with blueprints to plan the job and lay off equipment location and cable runs. Additionally, an apprentice electrician will construct and install various electrical components.

Electrician (Maintenance) O43E

An apprentice chooses an electrician apprenticeship in the Maintenance Department, will learn to maintain, modify, troubleshoot and install virtually every electrical and electronic component in the shipyard. The work may take an apprentice anywhere, from an underground transmission line to the top of a 23-story crane. Work assignments can vary from installing a simple electrical outlet to repairing and maintaining complex numerically controlled equipment.

Heating and Air Conditioning Worker O43H

In this trade you’ll learn to install, repair, and maintain a wide variety of systems. These systems include water fountains, window air conditioners, heating units, air driers, chilled water systems, and 3 to 60 ton air conditioning systems.

Heavy Metal Fabricator X15

Building a ship is like putting together an incredible jigsaw puzzle. A heavy metal fabricator apprentice, will be a part of the team that creates many pieces of the complicated puzzle from steel plates and shapes. You’ll learn to lay out and develop plates and shapes from molds and computer tapes. You’ll cut steel with saws, burning torches and shears, and you’ll handle large bending, punching, and drilling machines. Through related training in other areas, you’ll discover the art of tack welding, reading blueprints, building subassemblies and developing ship lines.

Insulator X33I

Insulation assures efficient operation of equipment, minimizes energy loss, reduces or eliminates noise transmission and prevents injury. Insulation work ranges from the fabrication and manufacturing of various kinds of insulating materials to their selection, preparation and actual installation aboard ship. The apprentice cuts and forms insulation materials, makes molded plastic forms, laminates fiberglass cloth and mixes bonding materials such as cement, epoxies and resins. Typical types of insulation installed include special pipe insulations, sheet rubber, fiberglass/wool, polymides, special foam application, portable pads and acoustic sound dampening materials. An apprentice insulator will learn to apply these skills through a variety of work experiences encompassing product lines such as submarines, aircraft carriers and commercial ship construction and repair.

Machinist M53

As an apprentice machinist, you’ll learn to operate, with keen precision, all major types of machine tools including boring mills, lathes and milling machines in Newport News Shipbuilding’s vast machine shop complex. You’ll work on a wide variety of metals to produce items such as valves, bolts, shafts, bushings and other machined parts.

Millwright O43M

As an apprentice millwright, you’ll install, maintain, repair and overhaul shipyard machinery. You will learn to operate a number of machine tools including lathes, milling machines and drill presses in manufacturing parts used to repair production equipment. Also, you will inspect and maintain cranes and will repair machinery in the various waterfront shops.

Molder A572

The foundry is a unique and valuable operation at Newport News Shipbuilding and It is highly respected, not only here at the shipyard for its talents and capabilities, but throughout the entire foundry industry. It is one of just a couple of foundries in the U.S. capable of pouring a large variety of different ferrous and nonferrous metals. The apprentice molder is rotated through nine areas of the foundry. A complete overview of each operation is given and the necessary processes of producing a finished casting from raw materials are taught. The apprentice molder will spend 10 months in the patternmaker shop to learn core box construction, production of molds and modeling concepts. Trade theory courses in blueprint reading and molder’s theory are taught as part of the core curriculum.

Non-Destructive Tester O38

In today’s advanced shipbuilding technology, many things are built that need to be highly reliable. This demand for high reliability has created the field of non-destructive testing. As an apprentice non-destructive tester, you will operate a variety of equipment which will typically involve calibrating equipment, conducting the actual test, evaluating the results, and writing an inspection report. You will gain experience in radiographic, magnetic particle, liquid penetrant, ultrasonic, and eddy current inspection methods. The training also provides experience in visual inspection, quality, planning, technical applications, quality standards and codes interpretation.

Outside Machinist X43

As an outside machinist apprentice, you will learn to operate shop machines such as drill presses, portable boring bars and engine lathes. You’ll be taught how to prepare shipboard foundations and how to establish alignment points for the installation of a ship’s major machinery components. You will install shipboard equipment such as steam turbines, generators, pumps, propellers, elevators, periscopes, armaments, steering gear and reactor systems. The training will also include learning to operate and test various components of a ship’s machinery.

Patternmaker M71

Every ship requires components and fittings casted by our foundry. The patternmaker plays a key role in the manufacturing of these castings. As an apprentice patternmaker, you’ll begin your apprenticeship with learning the use and care of woodworking hand and power tools. Then you will layout and construct simple patterns while learning fundamentals of wood selection, tool selection, shaping, forming and joining techniques. The apprentice patternmaker will spend time in the foundry to observe patterns in actual use. The training progresses to more complex patterns including collapsible patterns, unusually shaped patterns and large patterns for items such as stern tubes, stern frames and bearing housings. The apprentice works individually and in teams with other patternmakers on complex patterns which may take weeks to construct.

Pipefitter X42

A ship’s pipes are like human blood vessels, carrying vital fluids and gases necessary for the ship and its crew need to function. Pipefitters put the complex network together: more than 23 miles of pipe on a submarine and more than 230 miles of pipe on an aircraft carrier. As an apprentice pipefitter, you’ll install, inspect and test the many piping systems onboard ships. In the first few weeks, you learn how to weld and to braze. You’ll also receive instruction in the characteristics of steel, copper, copper-nickel, stainless steel and aluminum pipe.

Pipefitter (Maintenance) O43P

If you choose a pipefitter apprenticeship in the Maintenance Department, you’ll learn to maintain the various piping systems throughout The shipyard’s 550-acre facility. As an apprentice maintenance pipefitter, you learn the skills of bending and threading. You will also learn welding and brazing processes used on a variety of materials. Your work may take you anywhere from unstopping a drain in one of the shipyard’s buildings to working onboard ship where temporary hookup of argon, oxygen, propane, air and steam services is required for ship construction.

Rigger X36

Riggers handle material, equipment and machinery to support all other trades. They move the large ship sections as the ship is being assembled. The riggers provide all the blocking and shoring the ship sits on during initial construction. They erect and assemble a variety of steel pipe and wood staging other trades need to accomplish their jobs. They also move and secure the ships to the drydocks, piers and outfitting berths. As a rigger apprentice, you will learn to properly hook up loads and to signal cranes to pick up and move components to locations aboard ships. You will fabricate and install wire and roped rigging aboard ships.

Sheet Metal Worker X32

As a sheet metal apprentice, you’ll learn to construct from items such as funnels, lockers, stowage bins and racks, workbenches, hoods, galley furniture, bulkheads, terminals and ventilation duct work from light gauge metal. You’ll install all of these and many additional items such as ventilation equipment, workshop equipment, galley equipment, furniture, doors, ladders, handrails and trim work onboard ships. Additionally, you’ll learn to tack weld, develop patterns, interpret a wide range of trade drawings and use layout techniques for fabricating and installing a variety of sheet metal work.

Shipfitter X11

The apprentice shipfitter contributes to all structural phases of the ship’s hull construction. This includes the layout, fabrication, assembly and alignment of the sub assemblies as the erection of the ship’s hull progresses. In addition to fitting and tack welding large and small hull subassemblies, you’ll also build in-place interior structures such as hatches, doors, bulkheads and decks. By the time you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll be familiar with all phases of steel construction and heavy metal fabrication processes.

Welder X18

As a welding apprentice you will learn the full range of manual, semiautomatic and automatic welding processes in the shipyard’s state-of-the-art welding school. Using a wide range of metals and welding processes, you will perform structural and pipe welds in all phases of ship construction. Your training will be rounded out with assignments in related areas such as welding engineering, welding equipment repair and structural fitting.

Welding Equipment Repairer O43W

If you choose an apprenticeship as a welding equipment repairer, you will receive training as a production welder before you move into the maintenance area and learn to test, troubleshoot, repair and maintain welding and burning equipment. As part of the training, you will take various electrical theory courses to reinforce the mechanical and electronic on-the-job training needed when servicing a wide range of welding and burning equipment. Your training will include shop maintenance as well as service calls to various areas in the yard and onboard ship.