Blog Post

How to Decide if the Skilled Trades are Right for You

By UA Local 486 | Oct 17, 2023

The skilled trades is a great career option for both those starting their career and those looking to transition. These jobs are often in high demand, pay well and can be very rewarding. While the skilled trades get lumped into the same category, it encompasses a wide range of professions to choose from. Electricians, welders, plumbers, HVAC contractors, etc, are all skilled trades professions but vary widely in their day-to-day activities and skillsets utilized.  

Skilled trades make a great career choice. But how do you know if it’s right for you?

In this blog, we will explore the various factors to consider when contemplating a career in skilled trades. By the end, you should have a clearer understanding of whether a skilled trade aligns with your interests, strengths, and long-term goals.

Understanding Skilled Trades

Before diving into the decision-making process, it’s important to know what you will be getting into. For many, the appeal of skilled trades is the ability to work with your hands and not get tied to a desk. They allow individuals to work with tangible objects, create, repair, and see the immediate results of their efforts. Additionally, many skilled trades offer future opportunities for entrepreneurship, career advancement, and job security.

Skilled trades however are hard work. Trades jobs can be physically demanding and some trades require working outdoors in various weather conditions. 

If this type of work seems engaging to you, then a skilled trade might just be the perfect career for you.

We will outline a few questions for you to help you consider it.

How to decide if a career in the skilled trades is right

Self assess

It’s important to know your own interests and aptitudes. One of the first steps in deciding if skilled trades are right for you is to assess your interests, aptitudes, and passions.

One way to do so is by pondering some questions:

  • Do you like fixing things at home?
  • Are you intrigued by working with your hands?
  • Do you have a natural curiosity for how things work and are put together?
  • Are you detail-oriented and meticulous in your work?
  • Are you willing to continually learn and adapt to evolving technologies and practices?

If your answers to these questions lean towards practical, hands-on activities and a willingness to learn and problem-solve, a career in skilled trades may be a good fit for you.

Another great way to know if this would be a good fit is to fix some things in your home or a friend’s home. Find out if anyone has any home projects they need help with and offer to help. After helping, decide if it’s something you would mind doing all day. 

Consider The Education and Training Requirements

Skilled trades jobs are not something you can simply step into without training or experience. In order to perform the jobs well you must have adequate experience and in many cases the right certifications. 

Once you have identified a particular trade of interest, research the education and training paths required to enter that profession. Skilled trades often involve a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Vocational schools, community colleges, and trade-specific institutions offer programs that vary in length and depth of training. Alternatively, there are apprenticeship programs where you can get paid while you learn. Our apprenticeship program, for example, provides training in a number of different trades and allows apprentices to earn more every year.

When deciding on a career, consider the time, cost, and potential financial aid options for various education paths to ensure they align with your resources and goals.

Decide if it aligns with your idea of a fulfilling long-term career

Finding passion and fulfillment in your career is crucial for long-term satisfaction. Skilled trades can offer a deep sense of accomplishment, as the work directly contributes to tangible outcomes. Building a house, fixing a car engine, or installing electrical systems can be immensely satisfying.

Consider if it’s something you can excel at long term. While most skilled trades can lead to other work down the line, it’s worth stepping into as if you are committing for the long haul. With the education required and ramp-up time of gaining experience, it’s not something you simply want to step into for a short period before transitioning into something else. However, there are many career opportunities you can look forward to once you’ve gained experience in the trades.

Consider The Income Potential and Job Stability

While passion is essential, it’s also crucial to consider the financial aspect of a career in skilled trades. Many skilled trades offer competitive salaries and benefits, and some professionals in these fields earn as much or even more than those with traditional college degrees.

Furthermore, skilled trades often experience a consistent demand for their services, providing a higher level of job stability compared to industries prone to economic fluctuations. This stability can be especially attractive for individuals seeking a reliable and recession-resistant career.

Compare to other career options

One of the hesitancies of skilled trades, especially for younger individuals, is the fear that they are not making the most out of their career potential. They are deciding if they should go to college or just join the workforce immediately. It can be overwhelming to think about until you break it down into a few categories. 

  • Years of schooling required
  • Short-term and long-term income potential 
  • Day-to-day job duties
  • Long-term job stability

Consider your short and long-term goals. 

When most take a realistic view of the skilled trades they will realize that among other options, they take much less education and start off making a reasonable salary. The icing on the cake for most is that they aren’t stuck at a desk job but get to move around solving interesting problems throughout their week. 

Are the Trades Right for You?

Deciding if a career in skilled trades is right for you requires thoughtful introspection and research and is only something you can decide. Skilled trades offer a world of opportunities, financial stability, and a sense of fulfillment for those who are willing to embrace the challenges and rewards of these vital professions. 

Whether you choose to pursue carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, or any other skilled trade, remember that a successful career ultimately stems from a combination of passion, dedication, and the desire to continually learn and grow within your chosen field.