How to Become a Skilled Tradesman

Maybe you aren’t quite sure what you want to do after you graduate high school. Or perhaps you’ve been stuck in a rut and have been thinking about switching careers. If you have ever thought about entering the trades, it’s worth noting that becoming a skilled tradesman (tradeswoman, tradesperson, whatever you want to call it) is a lucrative, fulfilling, career choice. There is so much diversity in what skills you can learn, where you can work, and how you can move up the ladder.


However, before diving in head first, there are necessary things to understand about the industry.

  • You must decide what skill is right for you.
  • You’ll want to understand the different paths you can take (trade school vs. community college) before you get to an apprenticeship and begin your career.
  • What type of company do you want to work for and what benefits do you need?
  • How will you approach ongoing training?

If you want to skip ahead, we can answer all this and more over on our news wire >>


Now that you’ve started considering some questions about a future in the construction industry, let’s dive in:

Identifying a Skill That Aligns With Your Interests and Strengths


It is easy for students to get pushed into college– all your friends are going, your mom won’t stop nagging you, the guidance counselor says it’s the only way to success. (We discuss this frequently on our blog.) It is essential to keep in mind that a four-year college is just one path to a fulfilling career.


A different pathway to success could come via something you already love to do – taking your hobby to a career. It’s important to identify what skills you’re good at, but arguably more important, which skills you enjoy. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy doing the work long term.


To build a successful, lucrative, and fulfilling career in the trades, start small by either taking up a hobby or trying new things around the house. *Disclaimer: If you don’t know the basics of electricity, taking apart your household wiring is probably not an ideal place to start!


There are many different jobs on a construction site, knowing your way around power tools and some basic principles of woodworking are good places to start. Learning how to hang drywall, replacing flooring, and installing new windows and doors will help you to understand some basic tasks, showing you where your strengths lie and providing you the opportunity to see if you enjoy the work.


Soak up all the information you can on how to complete these new tasks. YouTube is an excellent resource for learning new skills. A simple search of ‘How-to Construction Videos’ results in hundreds of videos showcasing everything from how to frame a wall, to setting a concrete foundation for a new home. Searching Reddit and Google will also help you see what common complaints or problems come up in the trade(s) you are interested in pursuing.


Great advice can be found in the offline world as well. Visit your local library or hardware store. The library is an excellent resource for textbooks on the basics of skilled trades. Your local hardware store can provide a wealth of information, and they often host free classes on everything from landscape design to tile installation.


As you start to learn new skills, you may find that several different things interest you. However, before you begin or change careers to enter construction, Tradesman International recommends asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have the physical ability to carry out a variety of tasks? Do you have good hand-eye coordination?
  • How do you feel about having a wide variety in your responsibilities and tasks?
  • Do you enjoy being part of a team?
  • How do you feel about working outdoors? In a variety of seasons and weather conditions?

The answers to these questions will help you determine if your trade will be a good fit over the long-haul, and what ways you can cross train with business or project management classes that will ensure that you are not out in the field forever if you don’t want to be.



Technical School and Apprenticeship


Training and apprenticeships are an integral part of starting a successful career in the construction industry. After graduating from high school (or obtaining a GED), many future skilled tradesmen go the direction of community college for a few years while others go directly into a technical school. So, what’s the difference?

A community college is like a watered-down version of a traditional college. Sometimes students attend community college to figure out what they want to do in the future, whereas a trade school or technical school provides a more distinct focus on your desired field of study. When you finish your education at a technical school, you earn a certificate rather than a degree. However, it can be a shorter and less expensive path to your career.


The matter of obtaining a degree is personal. While you don’t necessarily need one to work in the trades, it can be helpful to your long-term goals to take business classes, so you are in a position to move up or run your own business.


The next step is to find a company where you can obtain an apprenticeship. Scoring an apprenticeship ensures several years of paid, on the job training with senior level professionals. Your apprenticeship would ideally be completed with a company that has the bandwidth, capabilities, and goals to see you succeed long after the apprenticeship has ended.


When you’re figuring out which company is best for your professional growth and future, make sure you interview your potential employer.

Lifelong training should be an integral part of your growth plan with this company, and it should be something that they offer to all employees, regardless of tenure or job.

Learn more about what to look for in your next employer 


On-going Skilled Tradesman Training


On-going training should be an essential part of your job to ensure you’re continually moving up the ladder into senior-level positions as years go by. Plus, with the pace of technology, not keeping up on training and education is one quick way to work yourself into a dead-end job.


The last thing you want to do is to be stuck in a specific position, or an entry-level job, for years without sharpening the skills you need to move up in your career. On-going training allows you to:

  • Consistently keep growth at the forefront of what you do.
  • Ensure you’re set up for success when new projects and opportunities come your way.
  • Receive pay increases – as your skillset sharpens and you learn new things, your value within your company changes, and you’ll be rewarded accordingly.
  • Train new employees and receive recognition as a leader within your company.


Companies that offer training recognize that their employees are a valuable part of their success (we support this philosophy!) and if their employees are happy, they’ll be loyal and consistently strive to do the best work they can.


Working in the trades is a respectable and fulfilling career path for many people. By setting yourself up for success in the beginning and by doing the work to really identify which trade resonates with you, you can ensure that you’re going to enjoy what you do for a long time to come. Working as a skilled tradesman is not just a paycheck; it’s a commitment to a booming industry and a commitment to your future self.


Do you have any thoughts on what it takes to achieve success in the skilled trades? We would love to hear from you! Comment below and sign up for our news wire to stay in touch.

Josh Munns
Joshua Munns grew up in the construction industry differently than most, his Mom, Mary Davis, started a window company as a single mom when he was just 4 years old in 1983. Having a mom who was starting a business in the construction industry at only 23 years old made for some very interesting days. Fast forward 24 years to 2007 I took over the family business just in time for the Recession which hit my business extremely hard. I spent the next 11 years rebuilding the business, rebuilding my workforce and completely reshaping the company. In 2018 I sold the business to focus my energy on my passion, building careers in construction. In 2018 I founded Ground Up Careers to help business owners and employees build careers together. The career does not exist with the employer and the employer does not exist without the career. When employees and employers work together the end result is amazing. By building a strong company culture, offering great benefits and career paths for my employees I was able to build the business back stronger than ever. I did it and I want to help other owners take that step to take their business to the next level. It is an amazing feeling and a great privilege to be able to provide people with great careers.

Leave a Reply