Starting A Career In The Trades

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Confused by what is need to get started in a trade career? We are going to break it down for you so you can get your search started today for a new blue collar career.

workers in trade careers

Typical Steps To Securing Trade Jobs

While every trade job is a bit different in their formal requirements for getting started, there are a few things you can do that are pretty common among all the different career opportunities.

High School or GED

There are very few opportunities for those that did not finish high school or a GED certificate. If you are looking to get started in any type of trade job, then this would be the first step to take to be more appealing to employers and to get entry to certification programs.

Related: What to do after high school

Research Career Options

There are a lot of options out there! Before you can move on to find out what you need to succeed you should at least have an idea of what you might want to do. Of course, Blue Collar Brain offers a lot of trade job overviews – but also talk to your friends and families who may have other ideas for you since they know you best!

Think about things you enjoy. Do you love the water – maybe a marine mechanic or underwater welder is what you will love. Like to fly? Maybe a journeyman or roofer! Check out the career requirements, salaries, and future growth opportunities so you know you will have a career that will give you a good future.

Vocational School or Certification Program

Once you have decided on a career path, then it is time to see what kind of educational requirements are needed. While most trade jobs do not require a college degree, many do require some sort of education, training and certification.


An apprenticeship is critical to your success! While some future employees wish they can skip right past this part – it would be a bad idea. An apprenticeship might be paid – or it might not be, so you need to know that before you dive in to your career option. It will require you to work side by side with an experienced tradesperson so you can learn the ins-and-outs of the job.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to show what you got and ask questions. Showing drive, ambition and an interest in learning during this important period can really help improve your opportunities once you have completed the apprenticeship.

Getting A License

Many trade jobs do require some sort of license or certification. In many professions it will be required that you have 2-5 years of experience in your chosen profession before you can apply to be licensed. What is required to be licensed will depend on the career and the state you reside in.

Becoming licensed for most careers usually includes passing an exam – so be sure to study!

Becoming An Entrepreneur

So, you have been working at your trade job for a while and feel like you have gone as far as you can go. Or, maybe you are just tired of the people you work for and see an opportunity to do things better.

Whatever the reason, turning your trade job into your own business may be the next phase for you.

Now more than ever there are significant shortages in skilled labor. I work as a realtor in NJ and every day see request for electricians or masons that are not booked months out.

This means there is lucrative opportunity for you to kickstart your own business to meet this demand!

It is important to do your homework where you live and see what the competition looks like though as your area may be much different than others.

Some competitor research you should do before launching your business include:

  • How much competition is in your area
  • How many potential clients could you obtain (if your skills are commercial and not residential for example, is there enough opportunity to keep your pipeline full)
  • Look on local Facebook groups and see if people are asking about the services you will provide

Once you are convinced that starting a business in your trade is a good idea you will want to do the following:

  • Make sure you are certified and are up to date with it. Since you will be the owner you want to ensure you have all certifications possible to build trust with potential customers.
  • Get a local business license and make sure you satisfy all local requirements for a business of your type.
  • Get insurance – this is a must to protect you, and your clients.
  • Create a business name and make sure you can use it in your state. Usually you will need to check with your county registrar.
  • Buy a domain for your business so you can build a website.
  • Create your website and logo.
  • Attend local events and networking meetings to get your name out there and find clients.
  • Meet with a tax professional to help you with your finances and taxes.

There is of course many other things to consider, this is just to get you started thinking about your future! From here you would want to decide if you want a big business with lots of employees or a smaller entity that has just you and a few contractors.

The options are exciting – and endless!

Trades That Make Good Businesses

Not every trade will be easily transferrable to a business. Below are some of the top trade opportunities that you can start a business in that are in high demand.

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) Technicians

You will need several years of dedicated experience before starting an HVAC business. Certification will also be a must have to be successful.


Electricians are seeing a rise in growth opportunities making it a great skill to start a business in. You should have several years of experience, have undergone and apprenticeship and have certification to be a successful business owner.


Another fantastic career that is on the upswing for need and will make a great business. Whether you are a plumber or pipe-fitter this is a great skill that transfers well to entrepreneurship. You can specialize in residential or commercial and create your own future. As with most businesses you will need to be licensed or certified to get started.


A great option for an on the go type service. You can be a solo entrepreneur and use a van to go mobile for both residential or commercial clients. The opportunity to grow and expand into a physical location is also an option if you are interested. Certification is of course required to be able to be successful.

The biggest issue to being a business owner in the trade industry that you should be aware of is the shortage of good talent. According to PeopleReady Skilled Trades, the length of time for some key trade jobs to be filled is much longer that it was just a month ago.

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