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Finishing Trades Academy

The FTIUM program for high school students

High school students: Are you thinking about your future?

A career in the union finishing trades can get you:

  • An average salary of $70,000 per year
  • A ladder to become an entrepreneur
  • Top-notch healthcare and retirement benefits

And so much more. 

What is Finishing Trades Academy?

Finishing Trades Academy (FTA) provides a unique opportunity for high school students to gain hands-on experience and learn about the different crafts and professions of the finishing trades while completing their high school coursework.

The FTA includes:

  • A head start on your apprenticeship & college degree while you finish high school
  • Hands-on experience at our state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot training facility in Little Canada
  • Free mental health counseling through the FTIUM Care Team
  • A gateway to paid apprenticeship & the FTIUM associate’s degree program
  • A lucrative career path with $0 college debt.

How FTA works with your regular high school coursework:

Fall 2024:

FTA students are eligible to obtain between two and four high school credits based on the student’s home high school curriculum rigor.

Math, non-biology science, and 2 electives are the most common credits given.

Fall 2024 FTA Class Schedule:
  • Morning cohort students: 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
  • Afternoon cohort students: 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Currently partnered with over 30 schools in St. Paul and the Northeast metro. 

Contact your Work Based Learning Coordinator or school counselor to see if your school is eligible today!

You’re most likely to be admitted if:
  • You have a driver’s license & reliable transportation 
  • You’re a high school senior 
  • You’re turning 18 in your senior year 
  • You’re on track to graduate 
  • You’re a hands-on learner

Meet the instructors:

Phil O'Neill Headshot



Phil O’Neill is FTA’s licensed career training and education (CTE) teacher. The curriculums he builds inform FTA coursework. Our apprenticeship instructors assist Phil in providing specialized training in their trades – commercial and industrial painting, glasswork, glazing, drywall finishing, and sign & display.

After owning a landscape construction company for 28 years, Phil returned to college to pursue his desire to give back to the community and become a special education teacher.

He now has multiple degrees and has been teaching high school students for 7 years. He has created innovative learning strategies and curricula that specialize in the trades and hands-on learning projects.

Get to know the finishing trades!

Commercial painters apply decorative and protective finishes in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial settings. They prepare a variety of surfaces (wood, masonry, drywall, plaster, concrete, synthetics, stucco, and metal) prior to the application of materials such as paint, high-performance coatings, waterproofing, fireproofing, varnish, shellac, wall coverings, and special decorative finishes.
Industrial Coating and Lining Application Specialists apply techniques to prepare substrates for coating and lining application. Industrial Coating and Lining Application Specialists apply/install protective coatings and linings to steel and concrete on complex structures.
Drywall Finishers prepare drywall panels for painting by taping and finishing the joints and imperfections in the drywall surface.
Glaziers are responsible for selecting, cutting, installing, replacing, and removing all types of glass. They install architectural aluminum window systems, glass handrails, mirrors, door entrances, and decorative wall systems in commercial and residential buildings.
Glassworkers work in manufacturing and fabrication settings. Glassworkers fabricate aluminum window systems, shower enclosures, mirrors, and door entrances and manufacture glass for commercial and residential buildings.
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