Skilled Trades: How to Get Started

Skilled Trades

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Do you want to start a new career? Are you worried about job security and reasonable wages?

Your concerns are valid. The U.S. has outsourced over 3 million jobs, resulting in $37 billion lost or lower wages. Wage stagnation continues to widen the income inequality gap.

However, the opportunities for skilled trade jobs are increasing, and many skilled trade services aren’t easily eliminated from the job market. You also have options to learn trades without averaging $400 a month to pay back student loans.

If you’re interested in learning more about skilled trade jobs as a career, we have a guide to help you get started.

What Are Skilled Trades?

A skilled trade is any job that requires specialized knowledge and specific skills. Professional jobs require broader and more generalized knowledge.

For example, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is considered a high-skill trade. They specialize in one facet of the medical industry, patient care, and need a license and certificate to meet their state’s educational requirements.

By contrast, a doctor is considered a professional job. Even when they choose a specific career path (like a pediatrician or surgeon), they still require several years of higher education and medical school.

Common Trade Misconceptions

Unfortunately, there are common misconceptions about trade jobs. This prevents many people from making informed decisions about their careers.

1. Skilled Trades are Always Grueling Manual Labor

Trades aren’t always blue-collar (manual) jobs. While they include construction and mechanic fields, they also include jobs like web developers, legal assistants, and respiratory therapists.

Whether you’re working on a construction site or in a lawyer’s office, trade jobs involve the technical work needed to complete a task or project.

2. Skilled Trades Don’t Pay Competitive Wages

Skilled trades are like professional jobs. The wage can depend on your work, who you work for, and how they pay you (like hourly vs. salary).

It can also fluctuate with market conditions, like demand or local area cost of living. Skilled trades may also pay more for experience and specific skill sets, just like professional jobs.

3. There Are No Career Advancement Opportunities in Skilled Trades

Skilled trades have as many flexible career options as any other type of work. You could become an expert in your field or move up to on-site manager or even consider starting your own business or company.

Some start in a trade job and then transition into college and a professional career. For example, you can work as a web developer while earning a degree to become a programmer.

How Do You Qualify for Skilled Trade Jobs?

Not every path to a trade job is the same. Different industries, fields, and states will have different requirements. You may have to complete various educational or on-the-job training requirements to meet qualification standards.

For example, an electrician’s requirements may be:

  1. Register as a trainee
  2. Complete required educational programs
  3. Complete required training hours
  4. Pass licensing requirements

Alternatively, a landscaper may not be required to have any formal education or licensing to start working. 

When evaluating career options, you’ll have to research each job by its state requirements to get an accurate assessment.

Educational options to meet your state’s requirements can include:

  • Training courses
  • Certificates
  • Degrees
  • Apprenticeships
  • Licensing programs

Vocational (trade) schools and/or college programs can offer help qualifying for a skilled trade. Some may offer specific courses, programs, certificates, or degrees tailored to applicable job requirements. 

Even if your state doesn’t have specific requirements, completing certificates and other educational programs may help you to become more competitive in your field and/or with customers. 

Current Skilled Trade Services

Unpredictable factors can make it difficult to determine whether or not current trade jobs will remain in demand. The COVID pandemic threw a wrench in many industries, with positive (higher job openings) and negative (safety and supply issues) impacts.

However, some trades are difficult to automate, outsource, or downsize. There will be some demand for skilled trade workers for many jobs, even during tough economic downturns.

Skilled trade services include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Medical assistant 
  • HVAC systems
  • Electrician
  • Cyber security specialist 
  • Behavioral Health Assistant
  • Business Office Administration
  • Medical Assistant 

In some areas, the current demand for qualified, skilled trade jobs is outpacing available trade workers, a trend that isn’t new.

According to the Manufacturing Institute, over 2 million jobs in the manufacturing sector alone will remain empty all the way 2030.

Medical trades may have more opportunities due to the pandemic. As of Oct 11, 2021, BLS predicts 16% job growth in the healthcare sector, with around 2.6 million jobs added by 2029. 

No matter what industry you decide to go into, future demand is an important aspect. No job market is 100% predictable, but some factors can indicate future long-term growth or slowdown.

Getting Started on Trade Jobs

Many trades can be lucrative careers with many opportunities. Whether you want to learn anything from culinary to an industrial, skilled trade, the first step is finding guidance for your new career path.

At InterCoast College, we offer programs designed to assist you in reaching your professional and personal goals. Contact us for more information or to get started on your new future today.

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