No longer do we live in a world where men are only found working in skilled trades. However, many people have the perception of thinking about big bulky men on construction sites getting dirty when skilled trades come to mind. This is really far from the reality of the skilled trades industry as it is today. Women have made their way into skilled trades almost 80 years ago during World War II. Ever since then, skilled trades have seen significant increases of women in various fields. Today, there are more and more opportunities available for women who wish to start out in skilled trades. We’re here to give you the resources you need to set yourself up for success as a woman in a skilled trade. To get started, we’ll cover the basics of explaining what skilled trades are and the paths you can take to work in the skilled trade of your preference.
What are skilled trades?
A skilled trade is a job that requires a specific set of skills in a particular area of expertise. This is different from unskilled labor which includes those who have completed their high school education with no further training. Typically, skilled trades require a certification or special training to gain skills in a particular trade. However, a bachelor’s degree or further education is usually not required in order to be in a skilled trade. Important skilled trades that we can see in our world today include the automotive and construction industries. The four main skilled trades for women to get into include automotive, construction, manufacturing, and service trades. We’ll go into more detail about each one of these and list some of the most popular job positions.
Automotive trades involve jobs that deal with cars, trucks, SUVs, and other automotive equipment. Some of the most common skilled trades within the automotive industry include, but are not limited to:
- Diagnostic technician
- Mechanical repair
- Service technician
- Vehicle body repair
- Automotive service mechanic
Construction trades involve jobs that are focused on producing, assembling, and maintaining a variety of building structures. Most construction skilled trades require physical, hands-on labor in order to complete the job. Some of the most common skilled trades within the construction industry include, but are not limited to:
- Concrete workers
- Heavy machine operators
Manufacturing trades involve jobs that are related to fabrication, production, and processing of raw materials to create a good. Some of the most common skilled trades within the manufacturing industry include, but are not limited to:
- Agricultural food processors
- Power plant operators
Service trades involve jobs that are focused on providing some kind of service, rather than manufacturing where you are creating a good. Some of the most common skilled trades within the service industry include, but are not limited to:
- Educational assistants
- Occupational therapy assistants
- Youth workers
Why should women consider a skilled trade?
Not only are there more and more women considering a skilled trade, but there is also a national shortage for human labor in such skilled trades. With automated technology at an all-time high and the development of robots, many jobs are becoming completely automated which eliminates the need for human talent. However, that’s not what you should worry about. On a global basis, there is a shortage of almost 85 million people to fulfill jobs. So not only would it not be hard for you to find a skilled trade job as a woman, but you would also more than likely be offered a great sense of job security in your desired field. From contractors to service industries, it’s becoming harder and harder for them to fill the jobs needed as there is a lack of talent.
Typically, most women who decide to take on a skilled trade end up sticking together and staying in these trades for the duration of their work lives. Due to the shortage of talent and being a woman, you have a great potential to earn more money and maintain job security. In a recovering world from a pandemic, there’s not much more you can ask for in terms of a career.
Benefits of working in skilled trades as a woman
There are many great benefits that you will be able to experience as a woman in a skilled trade. Even with some challenges to overcome, the benefits greatly outweigh these. As more women enter the skilled trade sector and more employers begin understanding a woman’s importance in skilled trades, it allows future women to be able to reap the benefits. Some of these great benefits that you will receive as a woman working in skilled trades include:
- Hands-on job training: A job in your desired skilled trade will provide you with hands-on job training all while you are still receiving a paycheck. You don’t have to go through a period of job training without being compensated. Pay will begin regularly when you start the position.
- Job security: As mentioned previously, there is a shortage for skilled trade workers which means women are in high demand. This is able to give you job security while also offering you chances to advance in your field.
- Travel: Depending on the particular skilled trade you choose, there are some opportunities for you to travel for your job. This would allow you to explore different places in the country all while still earning a paycheck for working.
- Timely education: Since you will not need a higher degree of education such as a Bachelor’s, the cost of your education will be much more affordable. Vocational schools, community colleges, and trade schools typically give you the chance to graduate with little debt.
- Instant gratification: A career in skilled trades also provides you with instant gratification because you can see and feel the results of your work. You get a sense of accomplishment from completing a project that helps others by fixing or improving a problem they were experiencing.
How to prepare for a career in a skilled trade
Once you decide that you want to take the path of a skilled trade, it’s important to know what your next steps should be in order to fulfill this. Luckily, there are a few different paths that you can choose to take that will prepare you and set you up for success in your desired field. Here are the different paths you can take to prepare for a career in a skilled trade:
As a woman, it’s typical to not be introduced to different tools and equipment as men are at a younger age. That’s why apprenticeships can be extremely beneficial in gaining knowledge and learning the hands-on skills you will need to be successful in your field. As an apprentice, you will be able to receive practical training and education in the field of your liking all while being able to earn wages for your work.
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
Technical programs, also known as vocational programs, are designed to provide you with knowledge and skills for high demand jobs across an industry. These programs often include a variety of educational courses that you will take along with more hands-on learning to help you gain the knowledge needed to be successful. This path usually prepares women to continue onto post-secondary education further down the line.
University or College Education
While apprenticeships and CTE programs are all suffice for gaining the skills you need for a skilled trade, there are some colleges and universities that offer skilled trade specific courses. This path will give you a great education, but can be quite more costly than the other two options.
Local Chapters in Michigan
If you want additional support to aid your skilled trade journey, there are many different local chapters in Michigan that will offer you resources and support. Here are a few resources to check out as a woman interested in pursuing a skilled trade: