For many people, building a successful career seems like a daunting task. However, when it comes to skilled trades, an industry that is always in demand, the road to success can be easier to navigate. Skilled tradespeople are essential for our infrastructure, from building new homes to keeping our cars on the road. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in skilled trades are projected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, with an estimated 429,000 job openings. But, with so many opportunities in the skilled trades, how can you build a successful career that lasts a lifetime? Here are nine tips to get you on the right track.
1. Develop a Passion for Your Trade
The first step to building a successful career in the skilled trades is to develop a passion for your trade. Passion is a key ingredient in pursuing excellence in any field, and it is no different in the skilled trades. To successful engineers, carpenters, electricians, and technicians, passion is the driving force behind their journey to success. Passion leads to enthusiasm, and enthusiasm leads to motivation, which in turn leads to success.
2. Get Trained
With a passion for your trade comes the need to get trained. Aspiring skilled trade workers have several options to get the necessary education and training – from vocational schools to apprenticeships, and on-job training. According to the United States Department of Labor, 91% of apprentices are employed after completing their training, with an average starting wage of $70,000 per year. Not only will you get the training you need, but apprenticeships also offer you an opportunity to gain practical skills, make contacts, and build your resume.
3. Participate in Continuing Education
Continuing education is an essential aspect of any successful career, and it is even more important in the skilled trades. Technology and regulations are constantly evolving, and staying up to date with industry trends and advancements is critical to staying relevant in your trade. Continuous learning not only allows you to stay on top of industry changes and improve your knowledge base, but it also increases your value to potential employers.
Networking is a great way to build relationships with people in your industry, learn about different opportunities and receive guidance from those who have achieved success before you. Networking events and professional organizations can help you to expand your knowledge, stay up to date with the latest in the industry and make connections with potential employers or clients.
5. Specialize in a Niche
In the skilled trades, being a generalist may mean less demand and lower wages. Specializing in a particular area of your trade may increase your value to employers and clients, boost your earning potential, and help you to become an expert in your field. Consider specializing in areas such as plant maintenance, instrumentation, welding, hydraulics, or any other niche that interests you.
6. Work on Your Soft Skills
While technical knowledge is essential in the skilled trades, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving are equally important in the industry. Employers look for technicians who can communicate effectively with colleagues and clients, work well in groups, manage time effectively and solve problems creatively.
7. Take Safety Seriously
Safety is a top priority in any industry, but in the skilled trades where you may encounter heavy machinery, electricity, or chemicals, it is especially important. Employers expect their workers to have the necessary safety training and certifications and to follow safety protocols at all times. Investing in safety training not only protects you, but it also increases your value as a qualified professional.
8. Be Willing to Relocate
Depending on where you live or work, opportunities in the skilled trades may be limited. Being open to relocation can broaden your employment opportunities and open doors to new experiences and possibilities. You can also take advantage of different job opportunities across the country to learn new skills or specialize in different trades.
9. Keep a Positive Attitude and Work Ethic
Lastly, to build a successful career that lasts a lifetime in the skilled trades requires a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. A positive attitude helps you to overcome obstacles, stay flexible and solution-oriented, while a strong work ethic ensures that you are dependable and can be counted on to deliver results. These attitudes also help you to stay motivated, learn from your mistakes, create a good work-life balance, and achieve your goals.
Building a successful career in the skilled trades that lasts a lifetime requires hard work, dedication, and a passion for what you do. Pursuing education and continuing to learn, networking, specializing in a niche, working on your soft skills, taking safety seriously, being willing to relocate, and keeping a positive attitude and work ethic are essential components of a successful career in the trades. By following these steps, you can build a successful and fulfilling career that will last you a lifetime.