A trade career is ideal for anyone looking forward to trying something new or securing a job with a steady income. Learning a trade involves acquiring specialized knowledge and practical skills that open the doors to new and successful careers after training. If planning to learn a trade, you need to know what the process of learning a trade entails and the various opportunities available. In this article, we define what a trade job is, expound on the reasons for practising trade skills, and provide some guidelines on choosing the right trade job.
What is a trade job?
A trade job refers to any job that uses advanced skills and training acquired through means other than a bachelor's degree. The training and skills are gained through formal education in the form of attending a trade school or through on-the-job experience where you learn from various experts in the areas you are interested in. The skills of trade workers are highly specialized and vary depending on what the worker has trained to perform, with some requiring significant physical labour. In Canada, there are different types of trade jobs that require considerable training and experience before you can work. They include:
- auto mechanic
- dental technician
- real estate broker
Related: 20 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand
Why take time to practice a trade skill
Whether you choose to practice while on the job or complete a vocational school training program, there are several reasons why pursuing a trade is a brilliant idea. Here are six ways you can benefit by pursuing a trade:
1. Your gain the experience immediately
Some people excel when learning on the job instead of spending time in a classroom. Suppose you are such and prefer to get into the real world and gain experience instead of education. In that case, learning a trade is something you need to consider. This is because you work on real projects and get a certificate upon completion. In other words, the long wait to gain the right skills and experience is shortened by getting you to work on real projects in skilled trade careers. You rarely get such experience if you choose to complete formal learning in a college or university.
2. Relatively cheaper
Compared to the traditional degree programs offered in various tertiary institutions, learning a trade is relatively inexpensive. Tuition fees in trade schools are reasonably designed to ensure students graduate with little or no debt, which is rare to witness with the students completing colleges and universities. Due to the hefty price tag linked to their programs, most complete learning with huge loan debt to clear. Besides, if you get an opportunity to learn on the job or as an apprentice, you are highly likely to pay nothing to gain the right skills.
Moreover, most community colleges and trade schools offer associate degrees at low rates. They also offer easy-to-apply loans, grants, and scholarships. Take advantage of these financial aid options and manage your funds well. You can be sure to complete your program with skills that can secure you a job immediately and debt-free. It is that easy to gain competitive skills without spending a lot on your studying.
3. Takes less time
By the time four-year students complete their college studies, a trade skill student is done with the classroom work, graduated, and earning an income. Trade skills courses are short—they take two years or less to complete. And if you decide to train on the job to acquire professional skills, you are more likely to get your certificate fast. So if you are looking for an easier way to make a decent income quickly, then make sure to consider learning a trade.
4. Higher demand
Trade experts can expect to find new opportunities as baby boomers are now retiring. All these new openings must be filled. That means numerous opportunities await the millennials and Gen Z. There are numerous opportunities in other areas such as construction, plumbing, carpentry, and welding that are yet to be filled.
5. Pays very well
Skilled trade experts can expect to take home decent pay, and the more advanced training one gets, the higher the pay. While the pay can vary depending on where you are located, industry, company size, and the skills you have, the salaries of trade experts are often consistently higher or equal to the national average. You can also expect higher pay if you qualify for promotions. Trade jobs in home maintenance and medical are among the highest paying, but be sure to research the jobs you are interested in before committing.
6. Easier job search process
When training on the job, you get to meet people who can be your future employers. They have already seen what you can offer, increasing your chance of securing the job during the interview. They can also mention your name to other potential employers. When you have hands-on experience, you can prove during an interview that you can deliver. Most graduates from college and university have theoretical knowledge so you already have an advantage when applying for the same position.
7. You get to excel in what you are good at
Many college and university graduates work in different fields from what they specialized in for various reasons. Some because there are limited opportunities on the market, others are looking for jobs that offer a perfect work-life balance, and others find it more fulfilling to work in other fields. When learning a trade, you acquire skills and training in your preferred area. That means when done with the formal training or training on the job, you have the skills you need to accomplish what you love.
With these skills, you can search for a job—and you are likely to get it or start your own business. Whether you apply for a particular job or start your own business, a trade skill opens up more opportunities to consider. It is unlikely to have trade skills and stay jobless.
8. Get paid while you are in school
Yes, some trades allow you to work while in school through apprenticeship. As most apprenticeship programs are paid, you get to make some money while learning, and you may end up with more money at the end of your program. Considering some companies offer decent pay for apprentices, there is a possibility of earning tens of thousands of dollars in your bank by the time you earn your degree. For example, as an apprentice member of DCM Integrated Solutions Inc, you earn $40 an hour as a pipe fitter.
Related: What is an Apprenticeship?
Tips for choosing a trade
If you have decided it is time to learn a new trade, it is crucial to ensure you pick one that is right for you. Use these tips to choose the right trade for you:
- Determine your talents: A huge fraction of the trades jobs require expertise in specific areas. While you can gain the needed experience, it is much easier for you to focus on a career in which you already have an advantage.
- Consider your interest: A trade career allows you to do what you love so consider choosing what fascinates you the most. You can list all the possible trade jobs you are interested in and choose the most suitable one from the list.
- Research job growth: Before you decide which trade skill you want to learn, make sure to look at the job outlook for that specific trade. Government sources such as Statistics Canada and career platforms such as Indeed are good places to find reliable information about the job outlook for that trade.
- Take a personality test: Career tests can help you determine which trade skills are best to acquire. You answer a series of questions during the test, and at the end, you get insights that you can use to pick the right career path.
- Talk to a career counsellor: Sometimes, it helps to talk to a career counsellor if you find it challenging to decide which career path is most appropriate for you. Find one and schedule an appointment to discuss the various viable options.
Have a chat with tradespeople: If you know reliable tradespeople, you can talk to, reach out to them, and schedule an appointment to ask them some specific questions about the trade jobs that fascinate you. Here are a few questions you can use:
How did you get into this career?
- Was it easy to get your first job?
- Which school did you attend?
- What advice do you have for someone planning to get started with a trade?