A career in the skilled trades is a great option for young people who are looking for an alternative to a traditional college education. Tradespeople typically have higher starting salaries than their non-skilled counterparts, with wages that increase over time as they gain experience. Skilled trade careers also offer a variety of benefits and job security, making them an attractive option for many people.
Popular Skilled Trades
Exploring a Career Path in the Skilled Trades
If you’re thinking about going to college, you’re not alone. College is a popular choice for high school graduates, but it’s not the only option. In fact, if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, or if you don’t have the money for college, consider whether a skilled trade or technical education is better for you.
Skilled Trade Jobs vs. College Degrees
A college degree is no longer an assurance of a job that pays well or provides great benefits. In fact, many college graduates are struggling with student loan debt and low-paying jobs that don’t match their education level. A skilled trade job provides valuable training while earning a paycheck at the same time.
Why Skilled Trade?
A career in the skilled trades can be a rewarding and lucrative opportunity. Skilled trade workers have always been in demand, and with the aging of the baby boomer population, this trend is expected to continue for years to come. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be an estimated 637,000 new construction jobs created by 2024.
There are many reasons why choosing a career in the skilled trades may be right for you:
- The average salary for a skilled trade worker is $51,350 per year — nearly double that of those who don’t pursue post-secondary education or training.
- You can earn while you learn! Many programs offer apprenticeship programs where you can earn while getting trained on the job under the supervision of experienced journeymen.
- You are more likely to find employment than traditional college graduates because there are more opportunities available across multiple fields within the construction industry than there are qualified candidates.
If you love working with your hands and it’s something that comes naturally to you, then pursuing a career as an apprentice electrician or plumber may just be what’s best suited for your interests and abilities.
Skilled Trade Jobs
If you’re interested in working with your hands and building things, then a career as a mechanic might be a good fit for you. There are many different types of mechanical trades, including:
- HVAC Technician – This is short for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technicians. They install and maintain heating systems using tools like drills and soldering irons.
- Welding – Welders use special gas torches to melt metal together (welding) or cut metal apart (cutting).
- Locksmith – Locksmiths specialize in repairing locks on doors and windows. They can also install new locks or keys if needed.
- Automotive Specialist – Automotive Specialists work with cars and other motor vehicles to keep them running smoothly by diagnosing problems and fixing them with tools like hammers and screwdrivers.
Carpenter: Working with wood, carpenters build everything from houses to furniture. They also repair damaged buildings or other structures. To become a carpenter, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship program through your local union.
Electrician: Electricians install electrical wiring in homes and businesses. They also repair and maintain existing electrical systems. To become an electrician, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship program through your local union.
Building Maintenance: Building maintenance workers keep buildings in good condition by fixing things like broken windows, faulty plumbing or heating systems, or leaking roofs. To become a building maintenance worker you’ll need some experience doing repairs around the house or on job sites before starting this kind of career path.
Green Building Construction: Green building construction is an emerging field that focuses on the use of environmentally friendly materials in new construction projects. Green builders look for ways to reduce the amount of waste generated by their projects, as well as ways to conserve energy and water use during construction.
Plumber: Plumbers install and repair pipes that carry water and sewage through a home or business. They also install plumbing fixtures such as faucets and toilets. Many plumbers work for local governments maintaining municipal water systems, but many others work on private residential properties or in commercial buildings such as shopping malls or office complexes.
Chef: A chef is the head cook of a restaurant, hotel, or other food establishments. Chefs need at least a high school diploma and certification from a culinary arts program approved by the American Culinary Federation or equivalent training program.
Baker: Bakers work at commercial bakeries or may operate their own small bakery business from home. Baking skills include making bread, cakes, and cookies from scratch using traditional recipes and techniques.
Medical Assistant: Medical assistants help doctors with various tasks such as taking medical histories, collecting blood samples, administering injections, and measuring vital signs like blood pressure.
Teacher Assistant: These assistants help teachers with various tasks such as grading papers or assisting with classroom activities like science experiments or field trips.
Computer Support Specialist: These specialists install software updates on computers, troubleshoot problems with computers, and provide technical support over the phone or online chat programs like Skype or Google Hangouts if customers have questions about their computers’ functionality.
The Bottom Line
So is a career in the skilled trades right for you? The short answer is yes. First, there’s a shortage of skilled workers in today’s economy, meaning that competition for jobs is lower when compared to many other fields. On top of that, according to historical data, construction trade jobs are some of the best paying in the U.S. and require less than four years of training. Definitively, learning a skilled trade could be an excellent choice for anyone looking to become a master at their craft and make good money doing it.