Traditional “blue collar” jobs often get a bad rap. It’s only fairly recently in history that there’s been a push for so many to enter into “white collar” professions – lawyers, doctors, accountants and the like. History is replete with families that were known for their “trade” skills. While in the past this may have consisted of becoming a blacksmith or a carpenter because that’s what dad and granddad were, technology has opened the door wide to skilled tradesmen and women.

The modern world has brought with it many conveniences in the form of electricity to homes and businesses, indoor plumbing, central air and heating, and cars to drive. None of these things are inexpensive and most people strive to get the most use out of big purchases, such as a new refrigerator or new air conditioning unit, before replacement is necessary.

The skills needed to fix the plumbing, the electricity, the car, and the heat, as well as other repairs and additions to homes and businesses comes from dedicated, highly trained, and extremely experienced professionals. These men and women have undergone hundreds of hours of classroom education that has been combined with thousands of hours of on the job experience that enables them to install, repair and maintain the modern conveniences so often taken for granted.

The top five trades are expansive in the possible employment offered. These careers are:  Electrician, Plumber, HVAC Technician, Auto Repair Technician, and Carpenter.

ELECTRICIANS

* Proficiency in math
* High school diploma or equivalent

Apprentice Electrician:

* 200 class hours per year for four to five years, concurrent with
* Four to five years of training on the job (2,000 hours per year)

Journeyman Electrician:

* Pass testing requirement
* Three to five years of additional work experience
* 3-5 years additional experience
* Pass final (Master Electrician) testing

Master Electrician:

* Obtain city and state licensing as needed

Electricians will have the opportunity throughout their later training to specialize in one of four main areas of electrical work: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Outdoor Lineman.

Salary:  $48,250 (average)
Hourly Wage:  $23.20 (average)

Projected Outlook Through 2020:  The electrical field in general is projected to grow 23% through 2020 and should add 133,700 jobs.

(Note: Wages depend on what area is chosen, what area of the country the work is done in and whether it is an urban or rural setting. This applies to all trades described herein.)

PLUMBERS

* Proficiency in math
* High school diploma or equivalent

Apprentice Plumber:

* 200 class hours per year for four to five years, concurrent with
* Four to five years of training on the job (2,000 hours per year)

Journeyman Plumber:

* Pass testing requirement
* Three to five years of additional work experience
* Pass final (Master Plumber) testing

Master Plumber:

* Obtain city and state licensing as needed

Plumbers can specialize in residential, commercial, or industrial work.

Salary:  $46,660 (average)
Hourly Wage:  $22.43 (average)

Projected Outlook Through 2020:  The plumbing field in general is projected to grow 26% through 2020 and should add 107,600 jobs.

HVAC TECHNICIAN

* Proficiency in math
* High school diploma or equivalent

Apprenticeship:

* Classroom training, minimum 18 months, concurrent with
* Two to five years of training on the job

Technician:

* Pass EPA Certification Test
* Obtain necessary city and state licensing

HVAC technicians can specialize in residential, commercial, or industrial work, including commercial and/or industrial refrigeration.

Salary:  $42,530 (average)
Hourly Wage:  $20.45 (average)

Projected Outlook Through 2020:  The HVAC/R technician field in general is projected to grow 34% through 2020 and should add 90,300 jobs.

AUTO REPAIR TECHNICIAN

* High school diploma or equivalent

Apprenticeship:

* One year certificate course or two year Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Mechanics degree
* Concurrent minimum of two years experience

Technician:

* National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence testing certification (voluntary)

Master Automobile Technician:

* Pass all eight National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence tests; receive ASE certification

Auto repair technicians can specialize in one (or all) of eight different areas related to non-diesel automobiles: heating/air conditioning, brakes, manual drive train and axles, electronics systems, engine repair, automatic transmissions, suspensions and steering, an engine performance. Technicians can also build their expertise within a certain manufacturer, with diesel-powered vehicles, or with high performance vehicles.

Salary:  $35,790 (average)
Hourly Wage:  $17.21 (average)

Projected Outlook Through 2020:  The auto repair field in general is projected to grow 17% through 2020 and should add 124,800 jobs.

CARPENTER

* High school diploma or equivalent

Apprenticeship:

* 200 class hours per year for four to five years, concurrent with
* Four years of training on the job (2,000 hours per year)

Carpenter:

* Complete certification and/or associate degree
* Obtain necessary city and state licensing

Carpenters can specialize in framing, including exterior and interior wall, floor, and stair; roofing, including cornices; door and windows; and finishing, including interior trim, floor, and ceilings.

Salary:  $39,530 (average)
Hourly Wage:  $19.00 (average)

Projected Outlook Through 2020:  The HVAC/R technician field in general is projected to grow 20% through 2020 and should add 196,000 jobs.

Skilled trades appear to project growth at a greater average than many other occupations. As in most fields, keeping up with current technology, especially “green” advances, and expanding work skills, should provide the boost needed for success to those who possess the dedication to enter these demanding – and in demand – fields.

Participate in an electrician course by clicking here!

Learn more about plumbers and their responsibilities.

More information about HVAC technicians is available by clicking here.

Start here to explore the career of auto repair technicians!

For more information about beginning a career in carpentry, click here!