Starting Your Career

Your Ultimate Guide To Getting A Job In The Skilled Trades

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 04/20/2019

You’re ready.  After thinking it over, weighing the pros and cons, you’ve decided to begin researching, and possibly pursuing a career in the skilled trades. But now your mind is going a mile a minute with questions like, “How do I find the right job?” and “Where will I get the training?” and “Will I be able to afford it?”.

Take a deep breath, relax. You have more options than you think.

Here’s the great news – there are plenty of opportunities available to you. Aside from trade schools and community colleges, one of the best ways to get your career started is to actually start working. That’s right in most instances employers will offer you opportunities to begin training “on the job” and pay you to learn as you earn. Not a bad way to start, huh? That gives you the opportunity to step into a satisfying, well-paying job without investing several years and a lot of money to get a college degree (you can even save some of the money you earn to go back and get that college degree and boost your career!).

The expanding gap between the number of available jobs and workers creates an excellent opportunity for you as a job seeker. So how exactly do you go about finding a job? What is the best route to finding an apprenticeship or training opportunity to help kick start your career? We’ve compiled a list of tips (and a few tools) to help get you moving in the right direction.

How To Find the Right Trade for You

When you're making the deeply personal decision about a trade to enter, dedicate a little time to choosing a field that matches your interests. Some jobs in the trades are physically demanding, while others may have you working at a desk the majority of the time.

One of the best places to start is the Generation T career assessment tool. By answer a few simple questions we’ll create an online profile that will match your strengths to potential career fields and give you the opportunity to search for training opportunities in your area. Click here to go to the assessment tool.

If you already have an idea of the fields you would like to enter, make connections with people who work in those trades. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call businesses in your area or drop the business an email. Talk to them about the work they do. It's an easy way to learn more about each type of work before you commit to one. Places to find these pros include social media groups, trade associations and visiting companies that offer these skilled services. You will be surprised at how eager they are to talk to you!

Getting trained: The Types of Training and Apprenticeship

Job training or an apprenticeship is typically required to get you ready to work in a skilled trade and every trade has specific training and certification requirements. The great news is a good number of the training opportunities are paid positions that allow you to train as you work.  A little research about your chosen trade is important because it lets you see what type of training is needed, so you don't spend time getting unnecessary training.

  1. If you're still in high school, you can sign on with a company in your chosen field as a summer or weekend intern/helper. Internships are a great way to get hands-on with a particular trade and get some basic experience. If you're out of high school, the next two options may be a better fit for you.
  2. Trade schools and community colleges offer focused training that gets you to work right away. If you aren't sure where to look for a training program, try our program finder tool to get ideas.
  3. Apprenticeships are a third type of training that's common in the trades. In an apprenticeship, you spend part or all of your training time working with a skilled tradesperson while learning the job. For most apprenticeships, you don’t need any previous experience, just a willingness to learn and work hard. Most apprenticeships are paid training opportunities.

Ways to Carve Your Niche

While your immediate goal may be choosing a field to enter, it may be helpful to think about your ultimate long-term goal, too. For example, think about whether you want to own your own company or work for someone else when your training is complete.

The things you enjoy are also part of choosing your niche. For example, if you enjoy working outdoors, consider a field like roofing or construction. If you like having a flexible schedule, look at a design field like painting.

Beef Up Your Trade Certifications

Entering a trade field is an alternative to going to college, but that doesn't mean you don't need some form of education to excel. The trade certifications you earn are proof you've been educated and trained to do your job well.

Almost every trade has some certification levels that help you show your expertise to potential clients. Some of the certification tests can even be taken online. It's important for you to take the time to learn what type of certification you need.

Grow Your Skilled Trade Career

Taking up a trade is an opportunity for you to take ownership of your future. Think about your long-term goals and where you want to end up as you prepare to enter a trade. Try to make each decision about the training, education, and certifications you pursue based on your ultimate goal, especially if you want to have your own company.

The labor shortage in the US makes it easier than ever to grow a business in one of the skilled trade fields. When you choose a trade that focuses on using your skills and talents, it's easy to build a satisfying, lucrative career doing the type of work you enjoy.

Build Relationships

While it’s important to get experience and a little work under your belt, it’s equally important to understand the importance of relationship building in the skilled trades (or any profession). Most job opportunities are gained through relationships, and this couldn’t be truer than in the skilled trades. Nurturing relationships is key to finding more business when you eventually go out on your own, so it’s important to understand that the relationships you build with your mentors in this early stage of your career will have a lasting impact throughout your career. Be careful not to burn bridges and stay true to your word.


Get Started

So, we’ve given you the tools, the rest is up to you. Don’t be afraid to start following your dream – pick up the phone and start making phone calls today. And don’t forget you can also check out the Generation T online training portal to look for opportunities in your area. Whichever route you decide to go, keep us posted in the comment section below and share your story, tips and tricks with other Gen T followers.