Considerations for Choosing a Trade Career

welding career skilled trade

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Four years of university and a career behind a desk isn’t for everyone. Vocational schools can offer quicker paths to promising careers. With the country facing a skilled labor shortage, many people are opting for technical training. Here is some information to consider when choosing where to train and which profession to enter.

How to Choose a Career in the Trades

There are several types of skilled trades schools and careers. Consider the following factors when weighing your options.

Job Growth

Some sectors of the economy are expanding while others are shrinking. When deciding on which vocation to enter, examining job growth data can be helpful. For example, the construction industry grew, and employers are concerned about finding qualified workers to fill positions. 1

The construction industry needs skilled workers, but some fields are expected to have higher growth than others. Painters, construction, and maintenance workers (47-2141) are expected to have 6 percent job growth through 2024, which is average for all occupations in the United States. 2 HVAC/R technicians, on the other hand, are predicted to experience 15 percent job growth—much faster than average. 3 More potential job opportunities when you finish school is important, getting HVAC training could be a better choice.

You can look up job growth information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Have You Considered a Career in the Skilled Trades?

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Training Time

How much time do you have to spend in school? Trade schools and community colleges both offer vocational training, but the latter tend to take longer. Nearly half of trade school certificates can be obtained within a year, while an Associate’s Degree from a community college takes a minimum of two years to earn. Many students end up spending even longer in community college.

Training Cost

The cost of technical training is also an important consideration. On average, attending a community college will set you back about $10,000 a year. At first glance, this might seem like a better deal than the $33,000 it will cost for a trade school certificate. However, only 11.7 percent of students get their Associate’s Degree in two years for approximately $20,000. Most spend longer than they expected in community college. When you factor the extra time it takes to get an Associate’s degree, the costs go up as well.


How does school fit into your schedule? Do you have other commitments, such as work or children? If so, you might want to consider looking for a vocational school with flexible scheduling. Some trade schools offer day and evening classes, which can allow you to work or raise a family while you go to school.

Job Locations

You also need to consider where the opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for HVAC technicians shows that Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania have the highest level of employment. 4 Such data vary with the skilled trade. Texas has long been considered the welding jobs capitol of the country.

Work Environment

What type of work environment would your prefer? Indoors? Outdoors? Many skilled trades professionals work at a variety of worksites throughout the week. This is certainly the case for HVAC technicians, electricians, and welders. Some welders even get to travel the world for their work.

Skilled positions can be stimulating not only because they allow workers to ply their trade at a range of worksites but also because they are often active jobs. Those who work more physically demanding jobs tend to walk more than their office counterparts, which can have numerous health benefits.

Making an Informed Decision

There are many considerations for choosing vocational training and a trade career. Taking the time to research and think about your options can help you make an informed decision. Making smart choices early can help ensure you’re happy with the technical education and career you choose.

Additional Sources

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