Five Myths About the Skilled Trades: Rethinking Success

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by Coach Rob Balfanz

In the past, the skilled trades have been looked down upon, but the truth is that this career path can provide a great salary, excellent job growth, and flexible work-life balance. Here are some common myths about the skilled trades. Share with those you know who are pondering a career change and get more motivated people on your team!


Myth #1: Skilled Trades Are for People Who Won't Do Well in College

While it's a common myth that the trades are what people who didn't have the best grades in school fall back on, this just isn't true. ALL of the trades, from plumbing and carpentry to electrical and painting, require an understanding of many advanced math and science concepts. Many students also find the hands-on application makes these concepts easier to understand, so just because you didn't care for algebra doesn't mean you won't be great at building or siding houses with vinyl siding.


Myth #2: Tradespeople Don't Make Enough Money

This myth comes from the fact that the skilled trades don't require a college education, and society drills into our heads that a degree is required to make decent money. However, this isn't true at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average plumber makes $25.92 per hour or around $53,910 a year, and electricians top this at an average of $26.53 an hour and $55,190 per year. VSI suggests that once you step on the jobsite and start gaining applicable experience, an installer can make up to $70K, and if you start your own business, possibly more.


Myth #3: It's Difficult to Find a Job in a Skilled Trade

The shortage of skilled trade workers in the United States currently means that the expected job growth outlook for these jobs is often higher than average. The truth is there are currently more open jobs available than people willing to go into the skilled trades. This means it's often easier for those who are willing to jump into an apprenticeship and start right away to find paying work than it is for those with degrees who are competing against a much larger candidate pool. VSI suggests the construction industry is growing with roughly 790,400 jobs added by 2024. It seems to me that the demand is outweighing the current supply (that’s where you and your contacts come in).


Myth #4: Skilled Trades Aren't a "Real" Career

This is not true at all. The skilled trades are like any other job in that you start at the entry level (called trainee or apprentice) and work your way up. With these types of jobs (the trades), this means going from trainee/apprentice to journeyman to master or a version of a process like this. And with each of these steps comes more training, experience, and job security. Those who make it to the master level can often earn upwards of $80,000 a year — sometimes more depending on location and other specialties like commercial work or entrepreneurship.


Myth #5: The Trades are Only for Men

The fact is, over the past 10-20 years the trades have become much more inclusive, with women making up nearly 10% of the workforce, and that number is growing. For proof of this trend, just look at social media for the many inspirational stories of women working in carpentry, electrical, and HAVC. In fact, the number of women working in the trades is expected to double over the next 10 years. While you may not have pictured yourself as a vinyl siding installer or carpenter, the skilled trades can be an excellent option for graduates who are ready to jump into the workforce and start earning right away without having to worry about years of schooling or tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

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To your success,

“Coach” Rob Balfanz

Topics: training   labor   employment