How to Get Started in a Skilled Trades Career

The term “skilled trades” encompasses a huge variety of diverse and valuable careers, from nursing assistant to mechanic. Skilled trades are usually hands-on and require experience-based knowledge. Often, they incorporate on-the-job training programs and apprenticeships to teach new professionals how to succeed in their chosen trade.

Skilled tradespeople enjoy good earning potential and above average job security. Depending on the chosen trade, individuals with an entrepreneurial bent may find that, with sufficient experience, they can start their own business. With the rising demand for skilled workers, it’s the perfect time to get trained, equipped, and ready to embark on this career path. This article shares information on how to pursue a valuable career in the skilled trades.

In addition, as a professional in a more senior position, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with industry certifications that can enhance your marketability. For example, if you’re aiming for a career in finance, obtaining the SIE certification can significantly boost your credentials. To prepare for the exam, you can find valuable resources such as the free SIE study guide by Career Employer exam prep company, which will help you familiarize yourself with the exam format and content, increasing your chances of success. By acquiring relevant certifications and demonstrating your commitment to professional development, you can showcase your dedication to staying current in your field and impress potential employers.

Acquire the Necessary Training

The first thing to do when preparing for a career in the skilled trades is get the proper training. In U.S. educational policy, the goal often seems to be limited to getting students into a four-year college or university. While most skilled trades want students to have a high school diploma or GED, from there, trades education looks quite different from the college track. For one thing, it’s generally far less expensive than a four-year degree.

Learning for the skilled trades will be practical in nature and specialized rather than broad-ranging. Students may be asked to provide items from a required materials list, such as wrenches for plumbing or bib overalls for welding. To make this affordable, the latter can score discounted Carhartt bibs on a factory seconds site, while a plumbing apprentice can amass their toolkit over time. These savings will offset the cost of licensure, which is the eventual goal of every skilled trades student.

Skilled trades training might require you to take certain community college classes. Or you may be able to learn all the skills you need in an apprenticeship position. Different types of skilled trades require various types and levels of training. Before you can get started in any skilled trades career, you need to learn what becoming qualified entails. Here are some of the most common types of training and education required for skilled trades careers.  

Trade Schools

A trade school is also commonly referred to as a technical or vocational school. It’s a specialized educational program that gives students the practical experience and knowledge needed to pursue certain careers. Unlike college tuition — which can be prohibitively expensive — trade schools tend to be relatively affordable. As noted, the goal of most trade school students is not just graduation, but professional licensure as well.

Trade schools provide hands-on training to help prepare you for what you’ll experience in your chosen field of work. You can also expect to engage in rigorous, time-consuming training in trade school. Many students attend classes from early in the morning to late in the afternoon without much time for extracurricular activities. But the trade-off for this increased dedication is a shorter overall schooling period. Instead of the four-year degree typical of colleges and universities, students can often complete trade school in just two years.


Many companies in skilled trades industries offer apprenticeships. These programs allow new hires to learn a skilled trade under the direction of a skilled professional in the field. Even if an apprenticeship is unpaid, it is still an attractive option because it offers free training. Apprenticeships may be a good option for high school seniors who want an alternative to college and know what skilled trade they want to pursue.

Some companies offer paid apprenticeships. These opportunities give candidates the opportunity to earn money while they learn valuable job skills. Apprenticeships often take longer to complete than trade school programs; four years is typical, but it may be as many as six. An apprenticeship may also require candidates to work for their training employer for a minimum number of years afterward.  

Training or Certification Programs

Some community colleges offer vocational programs to help prepare students to enter the skilled trades. Completing these programs may result in an associate degree, professional certification, or both. Students who attend vocational programs usually go full-time so they can get their degree or certification within an accelerated time frame.

Community college vocational programs are similar to trade schools in structure and hands-on learning. Popular vocational programs include dental hygienist, ultrasound technician, IT technician, and licensed practical nurse.

Get Yourself Hired

Once you receive the training required for your chosen career and have earned your license, it’s time to get hired. You can look at online job boards or begin applying to local companies in your industry. Make sure you craft a compelling resume that includes all relevant training and experience you’ve obtained. You can find skilled trades resume templates online if you need help creating yours.

There are many skilled trades jobs currently in demand. That means it may be fairly easy to land a job once you’re qualified. Some of the most in-demand skilled trades careers include plumber, residential electrician, HVAC technician, and carpentry.

If you enjoy working with your hands and are a natural problem-solver, a career in skilled trades may be a perfect fit. Whether you want to become a plumber, a welder, a beautician, or something else entirely, the info above can help you get started.

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