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What is a Trades & Manufacturing Career?

Nov 4, 2020
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Do you like working with your hands, building and fixing things, and solving practical problems? If so, you might want to consider a trades and manufacturing career.

People involved in this type of career work with both their hands and their brains. They’re building or making something, or fixing something that’s broken. It might be a house, a car, a bridge, a precision medical component, an electrical or plumbing system, or an air conditioner. They like their work because they believe they can fix something that is broken, or make something much better than it currently is.

People working in trades and manufacturing careers also take pride in their work because what they do matters a great deal to their society and community. They work on a team and support each other as they produce things which provide shelter, education, transportation, and life-saving equipment to their fellow community members.

We have organized trades and manufacturing careers on the Trades Hub into three categories to help you better understand them:

Construction & Systems – workers in this category build homes, offices, schools, industrial facilities, roads, and bridges. They also work on or develop electrical, water, power, plumbing, and ventilation systems. Specific careers include:

  • Carpenter/framer
  • Cabinet maker
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Pipefitter
  • HVAC tech
  • Welder
  • Operating engineer
  • Cement mason

Machines & Manufacturing – workers in this category nearly always work inside of a factory as part of a production process. The process can involve tracking materials in a warehouse, assembling parts ahead of or after production, running a machine to produce a component or finished product, checking the quality of the product, and shipping and/or installing the product. Specific careers include:

  • Quality engineer
  • Machine operator
  • CNC machinist
  • Assembler
  • Warehouse
  • Maintenance
  • Installer

Vehicles & Engines – workers in this category fix, repair, or maintain vehicle engines and bodies. Vehicles may be cars, heavy equipment, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles, and RVs. Specific careers include:

  • Auto body tech
  • Automotive tech
  • Diesel tech
  • Medium- and heavy-duty truck tech
  • Heavy equipment tech
Trades & manufacturing workers take pride in their work because what they do matters a great deal to their society and community.

The demand for young workers in trades and manufacturing careers is high and should remain high for at least the next five to ten years. One of the main reasons for this strong demand relates to the current age of the employees now working in these industries. People 55 years and older totaled under 25% of all workers in trades and manufacturing jobs fifteen years go. As of 2019, that percentage was over 40%. Consistent retirements from this aging workforce should create plenty of opportunity for young employees in the coming years.

The final thing to note about this career path is how you get started. This article is a great place to start as it lays out the three key pathways to launching your career, which are:

  • An entry-level position with a company,
  • A registered apprenticeship, or
  • A formal technical education.

Before starting your career, please know that you need skills-based training because what you’ll be doing requires skills! The second thing to know is that you should commit to continual learning and training so you can keep improving and advancing. Regardless of how you start your career, there is always an opportunity for more skill development through on-the-job training and classroom learning.

Good luck on your journey!

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