Career Advice

Skilled trades are labor jobs which require specific training, but usually not a bachelor’s degree. Often these careers are viewed as physically demanding, yet this is not always the case. However, they do require strong problem-solving skills and creative thinking. Examples include construction managers, auto mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, crane operators, electricians, welders and CNC machine tool programmers to name a few.

Is a skilled trade the right career path for you? How do you know? Where should you begin?

Here are a few suggestions as you explore your options.

Think About Your Hobbies

Do you prefer the idea of working with your hands versus an office job? This may be an indicator the skilled trades are a good fit. Next, think about projects you have done in your free time. Did you learn how to change your own engine oil using YouTube, or did you replace your kitchen cabinets? If you enjoyed one of these projects, here is a starting point for further investigation.

Shadow Someone in the Field

Find someone who works in your area of potential interest. This might be a friend or relative, or you may need to contact a local company for a reference. Ask if you could follow this individual around for a day or even longer. This will give you a better idea of what is really involved with the job. You may discover it is even more (or less) interesting than you originally expected.

Finish Your Current Level of Education

It may be tempting to give up on your formal education as you are considering a career as a laborer. However, stay the course. Most technical programs require not only a high school diploma or GED, but also ACT or SAT scores. In addition, many skilled tradesmen pursue four-year degrees in business or a related field down the line. Keep your options open.

Enroll in a Training Program

There are two primary education options for the skilled trades. The first is a technical or vocational school. Your courses will be dedicated entirely to your field of study. This is usually the shorter and the less expensive route. The second choice is a community college. Here you will be required to take some additional classes not directly related to your field to receive an associate degree.

Find an Apprenticeship

After completing your studies, you most likely will need to complete an apprenticeship or additional on-the-job training. Usually, schools and/or training programs assist with placements. If not, visit the Apprenticeship section on the United States Department of Labor website, or consider contacting a local temp agency for referrals. In most cases, apprenticeships are paid, although your hourly rate will be lower than a master tradesman.

Are you having trouble finding a job in the skilled trades field? There are opportunities available. United Talent Staffing Services has offices throughout West Virginia. We would be happy to help!