In a tight job market, selecting a role that is in demand, has a competitive salary, fits the bill. In fact, according to Forbes magazine, the skilled trades are the jobs that employers are seeking more than any other.
Becoming an electrician, for example, may make practical sense according to these criteria, but is there a tradeoff? Other factors are also important, such as working conditions. In comparing the skilled trades to a more traditional role in an office, many people would find advantages in comparing the two career paths. It is not always clear how a particular job direction will turn out when embarking on it, which is the reason planning and comparing the pros and cons can be so important.
Varied Work Environment
The working environment of a skilled trade position is varied, interesting and continually changing. This is, for instance, true for plumbers. Whether you become an independent contractor or are an employee, your day may begin with a private home and end with a multi-level corporation. It can be exciting and prevent your interest from waning. Varied job sites and skills used can change the tone of the workday within a few hours, or days, depending on the nature of the job.
Another important difference is the mobile aspect of visiting different job sites, which can give you a flexible schedule compared with someone accountable to a customer base or 9-to-5 schedules. Non-traditional work hours or breaks between appointments may allow an employee to work more variety into a daily schedule. For a parent or handling errands, a little spontaneity in the workday can be a significant advantage. If you pursue a career in Air Conditioning and Heating, the morning could consist of servicing maintenance for private homes, leaving the afternoon free for running errands before traveling to a job site in the evening, or picking up the kids from school.
Fortunately, the opportunities for skill and resume building increase with each new situation, that can broaden an employee’s horizons and skill set on their resume. For instance, at an industrial site, an electrician might repair or replace a motor or generator, and at a private home, replacing wiring is a common skill. These experiences will expose the trade worker to different challenges, which will nurture their skills and may even help them develop a specialty.
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Building relationships and interpersonal skills can be a rewarding experience for a tradesperson working outside of an office. Interacting with a private homeowner will require a different approach compared with a facilities manager, for example. Learning to manage relationships in different settings will help an employee have confidence in the ability to communicate and respond appropriately. Variety will also build familiarity in both relaxed and time-sensitive work projects that can help an employee prove themselves by pleasing clients and overcoming challenges.
Lastly, one of the well-documented disadvantages of working in an office is the sedentary nature of sitting at a desk all day. Back, shoulder and eyestrain, and circulation problems can plague even the most conscientious employee. In the skilled trades, it is not uncommon to walk for lengthy distances to and within a site, and take breaks from repetitive motions that can cause carpal tunnel and other health conditions in computer work. For example, a career in climate control could bring you to a variety of settings that require traveling to remote sites for diagnosing, servicing and repairing refrigeration equipment.
If you are the adventurous or entrepreneurial personality type, entering a skilled trade profession may be the right thing for you. You can have the security of knowing that jobs are relatively plentiful, while also preventing the boredom and other downsides of office work. Skilled trades are not for everyone, but some people enjoy the freedom and security of knowing that a competent skill can keep you employed more readily than most positions. The field can also be a great way to earn income while waiting to transition into another career field that may take more time or a higher financial investment to accomplish.
Inquiring about a program that will help you get into the field and into a secure and dynamic position can be the first step. A recruiting or program office can answer your questions and help you understand the requirements. You could be on your way to secure employment within a very brief time period, which is good news for entering today’s job market with confidence.