Many women are rethinking the kind of careers they want. Skilled jobs in construction and manufacturing aren’t traditionally associated with female workers, but women have long played vital parts in these industries.
Women Could Earn More in Similar Middle-Skills Positions
Unfortunately, women’s career opportunities aren’t necessarily equal. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) points out that women still earn 79 cents for every dollar that men earn overall. 1 Women could earn more by narrowing the gender gap for middle-skill positions. These jobs require post-secondary training but not a college degree. Many of these occupations can be found in the skilled trades like welding, and they usually pay $35,000 or more per year on average. Currently, women only occupy a third of middle-skill positions, and of these workers, most earn less than $30,000 annually, found the IWPR in a recent study. 2
This is changing. Right now, women in many lower-paying, female-oriented jobs are already developing the skills necessary for traditionally male-dominated, middle-skill jobs that would pay more. For example, women who operate filling machines earn about $26,000 per year for tasks that require arm-hand coordination, precision, steadiness, and dexterity. With welding training, these skills could make women in low-earning manufacturing jobs excellent candidates for welding positions that pay up to $39,000.
Women Could Find Fulfillment in Skilled Trades
Of course, quality of life is an important part of any professional decision. When modern women decide to defy gender conventions and pursue skilled positions, the rewards aren’t limited to financial gain: women can fulfill their passion while advancing in careers that offer financial security and opportunities for success.
Recent Tulsa Welding School graduate, Samantha Lira, is a good example of just how women can succeed in the skilled trades. Encouraged by her father, Samantha developed an interest in welding and took classes in high school. She was the only woman in her class of twenty, but she was not daunted. She loves her job and hopes to become a supervisor someday although her dream job would be working for NASA.
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Seize Opportunities in the Skilled Trades
Vocational training can be one of the best ways for women to even the professional playing field for skilled trades occupations; at least this is the case for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers (51-4121), notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 3 Women can also take advantage of becoming welders as there is a predicted shortage in the industry and can complete training in skilled trades in less than a year. Tuition is also more affordable than four-year colleges.
If women continue to harness their potential and pursue vocational skills, welding and other skilled trades may become less male-dominated. Women don’t need to bound by traditional job roles, and it’s never been a better time for women to defy the limitations of old gender norms and embrace their value as skilled workers.