Tradespeople are the backbone of every community, big or small, performing the services that keep us comfortable, safe, and happy. When the power goes out, they fix it. When the car needs a repair, they mend it. When we need a new hospital or school or park, they build it. Put simply, our society would not function without them.

Now more than ever before, we need people who are passionate about creating, serving, and developing the skills to fill the positions of plumbers and pipefitters, paramedics and painters. After years of promoting four-year, academic degrees, our need for workers with the training and experience to perform trade vocations has risen dramatically.

The good news is that, in addition to making a positive contribution to the world, skilled tradespeople make a great living. Salary, benefits, and growth potential among the trades rival and, in many cases, exceed those of jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. As an added bonus, the training and education you need to become a tradesperson typically takes less time and money to acquire.

Salary Resources for Trades and Vocations
43 Trade School Jobs Among the Highest Paying Trades
Top 30 Highest-Paying Trade School Jobs and Vocational School Careers
The Best Jobs for Trade School Graduates
What Skilled Trades Jobs Actually Pay
Information About Trade Careers

If learning a skilled trade sounds like a career path you may want to pursue, congratulations and thank you! But how do you do that, exactly? Well, no matter which trade interests you, the steps to becoming a tradesperson are similar.

Step 1 – Get your high school diploma or GED.
In addition to being required for higher education, you need the basic math, computer, and reading skills that high school teaches. Some high schools also offer specialized courses and vocational training for students who know they want to pursue a skilled trade after graduation.

Step 2 – Complete your vocational training.
Community colleges, technical colleges, and trade schools all offer classes in the trades. These courses are typically shorter and less expensive than those at universities. You can still qualify for financial aid and scholarships, however.

Step 3 – Become an apprentice.
Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to use your skills on the job. Most programs last between two and five years, and you earn a wage as you strengthen your skills and gain on-the-job experience.

Step 4 – Obtain your license.
Your combination of education and experience will qualify you to obtain your license in your chosen trade. Requirements vary by vocation, but most tradespeople must pass an examination.

Step 5 – Keep learning.
Continuing education is a requirement in most trades. In addition to keeping you up to speed with new technology and best practices in your industry, these courses will help you improve your salary and position.

Ready to get started? Find a trade program near you!