Two or three generations ago, skilled trades like the ones below were accessible and popular alternatives to careers that required a four years degree. As a result, the marketplace offered plenty of employees with these skills, so the salaries they could command were reasonable, but not necessarily high. During the intervening decades, the nature of the job market, the cultural role of higher education, and the technical skills demanded by these positions have all changed. At this point, these skill sets are now much rarer than they once were, and they’re in far higher demand. Skilled tradespeople in these fields can command impressive salaries, and when they find themselves unemployed, they rarely stay on the job market for long. Take a closer look at each of these careers and see if one of them might offer the opportunity and stability you’re looking for.
A career as a plumber or plumbing technician usually begins with a one to three year program offered by a technical school or community college. This program is usually supplemented or followed by an apprenticeship in which the student gains on-the-job skills by working with a master plumber or a crew of experienced professionals. Most plumbers value the apprenticeship portion of their training even more than the classroom component, even though the apprenticeship period usually only pays about half the salary of a fully trained and licensed pro.
To learn more about the path into this career, contact your local plumbers union or the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada.
The career of a licensed electrician begins with at least 144 hours of classroom instruction followed by 2,000 hours of on-the-job training as an apprentice. During this time, students learn how to read blueprints and understand electrical theory and code requirements. For more information, reach out to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or your local chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.
As automotive technology becomes more complex, formal training becomes more of a necessity for skilled auto mechanics. Training for this role usually begins in high school or technical school and then continues into a post-secondary education program or community college associates degree program that may take two years to complete. At this point, most employees land their first jobs in the service department of an auto dealership or private business. Eventually, many auto mechanics decide to pursue ASE, or Automotive Service Excellence Certification, which requires two years of professional experience and a passing grade on each of eight separate exams.
Technical trades like these and others, including HVAC repair and aviation maintenance, offer promising opportunities to workers who aren’t interested in four year degree program. For more information about any of these career paths, contact the Little Rock staffing and employment experts at CSS.