Getting Started in Trades
By Elijah Thomas
Not everyone is cut out for college. In fact, many people forego a formal education to enter careers in the trades.
Job opportunities in the trades are wide and varied. Many people become skilled at trades in high school, where they learn the basics of auto repair and woodworking. Some enter apprenticeships directly after graduating, while others attend trade or technical schools for advanced training.
Either way, trades offer a rewarding, in-demand and profitable career for many interested in working with their hands and possess the aptitude to diagnose and repair complicated machinery in fields such as heating and air conditioning, welding, masonry and more.
Here are some popular trades and the training required to begin your career.
High school graduates and those with a GED can enter training at a technical school for electricians. These diploma programs provide training in the fundamentals of an electrical trade and enable students to become proficient in areas such as electrical wiring and programmable logic controllers used in residential, commercial and industrial applications.
After completing four semesters of training, new electricians enter the workforce through an apprenticeship as they work toward their license, which is required by many states.
Like electricians, plumbing technicians first attend at least two semesters of training at a technical school before beginning an apprenticeship and earning a license. Modern plumbers have the opportunity to work at a variety of job sites and install or repair new technologies, such as tankless water heaters, WiFi leak detectors and smart appliances. This trade skill is extremely valuable and sees constant job demand.
This relatively new, rapidly expanding trade directly taps into the fast-paced digital world, creating and installing the systems homes and businesses have come to rely upon. Smart-enabled and security systems are examples of fields that form the digital footprint of many modern workplaces and homes. In high-demand, technologists in this field are trained for 2-3 years and obtain a certificate before working on-site and completing a paid apprenticeship.
Veterans in transition
Many people enter the armed forces to take advantage of military benefits, such as funding for a college education, while also performing their duties around the world after attending vocational training for a particular field. After completing their service, veterans with valuable trade skills can often enter the workforce directly or take advantage of veteran benefits that provide them further training to adapt military occupations to a civilian career.
No matter what trade you pursue, the training you receive can almost guarantee a life-long position, many with substantial pay that sometimes reaches into six figures. And even if you never pursue a trade professionally, the skills you learn can be applied in your everyday life, as well as a fulfilling hobby.