The Job Corps helps young people find meaningful employment

Eligibility Team
Researcher & Writer
February 04, 2018

Finding meaningful employment can be a tough proposition at any age, but especially so if you are young and with little or no job experience.  Recognizing this as a chronic problem, the United States Department of Labor created the Job Corps program with the specific mission of providing free and essential education and vocational training for men and women between 16 and 24 years old to help prepare them for success in every aspect of their lives.  It is the nation’s largest career technical training and education program for students in this age group.  Training is provided at no cost to participants.

The Job Corps began in 1964 under Johnson administration as part of the Economic Opportunity Act.  It was initiated as a central program of the President’s War on Poverty which was part of his domestic agenda known as the Great Society.  The program was modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps which was an emergency relief program that provided room, board and employment to thousands of unemployed young people.

Since it’s inception, the Job Corps has served more than 1.9 million people.  Today, it  serves approximately 60,000 younger people annually at Job Corps Centers throughout the United States.

Job Corps provides skills and training for more than 100 different types of career paths ranging from white collar jobs such as accounting and computer programming to vocational careers such as construction, landscaping and painting.  Participation in the program typically lasts about one year, but can last up to two years, depending on the amount of training required and how quickly a participant moves through the program.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible to participate in the Job Corps, an applicant must meet several criteria.

  • They must be between 16 and 24 years old when they apply, or have a documented disability that would allow the maximum age to be waived. However, an applicant may not exhibit behavioral problems that could keep him, her, or others from experiencing Job Corps’ full benefits.
  • They must prove they face barriers that would prevent them from obtaining education and job training through traditional methods, such as a public school education or college. Typically participants might be school dropouts, runaways or foster children, or parents that must support a child financially. Applicants might also be homeless, or have no fixed and regular residence, or living in a temporary shelter. They might also have reading, writing or math skills that are below the eighth-grade level, thus requiring additional training.
  • Applicants must be a legal U.S. resident; lawfully admitted permanent resident alien, refugee, asylee, or parolee, or other immigrant who has been authorized by the U.S. attorney general to work in the United States; or resident of a U.S. territory.
  • Meet low-income criteria.  There are no hard and fast rules on exact income, but applicants or their families might be receiving public assistance from a local, state or federal program.  They could be part of a family with earned income that is below the poverty level, or they might have received food stamps within 6 months of applying to the Job Corps.
  • Applicants must submit several documents proving their identity and eligibility. This includes a Social Security card or other official document containing the Social Security Number. For training in careers that involve driving, a valid driver’s license is needed. Some applicants may also need to provide medical insurance documents, immunization records or public assistance documentation.
  • Applicants must have a signed consent from a parent or guardian if he or she is a minor.
  • If the applicant is responsible for a minor child, they must have a child care plan in place.
  • Applicants must not require any face-to-face court or institutional supervision or court-imposed fines while enrolled in Job Corps.
  • The applicants does not use drugs.

Four stages of the Job Corps Program

Applicants are initially screened for eligibility by organizations that are contracted with the U.S. Department of Labor.  Upon acceptance, each student will go through four stages of the Job Corps Program:

Outreach and Admissions: Students meet with admissions counselors and gather information in advance of helping them to prepare to leave for their Job Corps Center.

Career Preparation.  Students focus on assimilating into the Job Corps Center, including academic testing, health screening, and instruction on resume building and job search skills. Students are instructed on computer literacy, employability, and center life. This phase lasts for the first 30 days on campus.

Career Development.  This is where the student receives all vocational training, drivers' education, academic instruction, and preparation for life when they finished Job Corps training.

Career Transition Readiness. After the student graduates. Career Transition Specialists outside the center assist in the graduate's job search and arrangement of living accommodations, transportation, and family support resources.  This stage can last up to 21 months after a student graduates.

Learning takes place at Job Corps Centers

Students attend classes and live on campuses at a majority of the Job Corps Centers.  There are close to 400 Job Corps Centers throughout the United States, including at least one in every state, one in Washington, D. C. and nine in Puerto Rico.  A few campuses are non-residential.  You will typically be matched with a center located close to your hometown.

There are also six Regional Jobs Corps Offices as well.  They are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

To find a local Job Corps Center, go here.

Safety and security are a top priority on campuses.  The Jobs Corps has a strict student conduct policy that prohibits violence and drug use to ensure all students can focus on their studies and learn in a safe environment.

Students are provided money each month they are in the program for living expenses.  In addition, students also have access to on-center health clinics, and some centers even provide special programs for students who are single parents.

If you live at a center, you may be allowed to visit home, or your parent or guardian can visit the center.  Passes may be given for weekend visits with family members, over night trips off the center, holidays and for emergencies.

If you participate in the Job Corps program, there’s a good chance you will attain success in one form or another.  It’s estimated that 75% of Job Corps graduates get placed.  About 60% join the workforce or enlist in the military.  Another 14% of graduates typically go on to enroll in additional education programs.

For more information or to apply

For more information on the Jobs Corps Program go to the program website.

Go here for the Spanish language website.

You can also call the Job Corps Program at (800) 733 JOBS (5627).

To apply for admission, go here.

Eligibility Team
Written by
Eligibility Team
We are a team of experts dedicated to finding the right government programs for you. Our mission is simple: help people quickly and easily understand which programs they might be eligible for—all in one place. Our team is dedicated to researching and providing you with the most relevant information. We compile only the most trusted information from government sources into one place so you can find the facts you need and skip what you don’t.
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