Here’s How to Learn a Trade and Get Hired

Find out how to learn a trade so you can work on a construction site like this one.

Maybe you’ve heard that there are lots of job opportunities in the trades. Or perhaps someone told you that the trades are more enjoyable than the work you’re doing today. Whatever the case, you’re wondering how to learn a trade – and how to get a job after you learn it.

Let’s face it. The path to a career in the trades isn’t super obvious. Everyone who learned a trade seems to have a different story for how they learned to do what they do. How can you get started when you’re not sure what the first step is?

Well, we’ve got good news. There is a sure-fire path to a fulfilling and lucrative career in the trades. Actually, there are a few different sure-fire paths!

Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to train for a job in the skilled trades and get hired!

Most tradespeople weren’t sure how to learn a trade when they got started either

It’s true! A lot of people just sort of stumble into the trades.

Maybe a family member taught them the basics and they were able to get an entry-level construction job right out of high school. In other cases, a high school construction class might have connected them with an employer.

Older workers, on the other hand, might attend a training course, take classes at a technical college, or seek out construction apprenticeships. All are valid ways to get started in a trades career!

So, let’s say you’re not one of those people whose parents taught them how to use tools. You don’t have any trades skills. Not yet, anyway. Where do you start?

The first step to working in the trades is getting trained

Know what the kid whose grandfather taught her carpentry has in common with the 45-year-old who just finished a construction training course? They learned from a more experienced person.

If you want to get started in the trades with no prior experience, there are basically three options for getting trained:

  1. Find an apprenticeship. These are hard to come by. Most construction companies and contractors want to hire people who already have some combination of training or experience. At the very least, they need you to have a basic understanding of job site safety. They don’t want to train you on the basics. If you can find an apprenticeship, good on you! However, this isn’t a practical option for most people.
  2. Attend a community or technical college. Many local public colleges offer programs in the trades. HVAC, plumbing, and electrician education are common options, and your local college will probably offer either a certificate or an associate’s degree in one of these trades. Programs last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. Unless you qualify for grants, you may need to take out loans or pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.
  3. Enroll in a dedicated training program. The availability of these programs varies, but you should see if there’s one in your area! Dedicated training programs for the skilled trades will usually offer a faster, more focused route to beginning your career. The best ones will also connect you with potential employers, so you can finish the training with a job offer in hand.

At Construction Ready, we offer a 20-day construction training course for adult jobseekers. The program is rigorous, and you’ll hold several valuable construction credentials upon graduation. Since our program is fully funded by government grants and private donations, students pay nothing to attend! We include a job fair as part of the training, so you can meet your future employer before you finish the course. 97% of our graduates have a job lined up before they complete the training!

Assuming it’s available in your area, we think a program like Construction Ready is the best, most cost-effective way to begin a career in the trades. However, if there’s no similar program near you, a public community college or reputable trade school might be a good option.

How long does it take to learn a trade?

Great question! Construction Ready is a 20-day program that prepares you for your first job in the trades. Actually learning a trade (and learning it to mastery) is a process that takes years.

In some states, there are licensing boards that approve “journeyman” level tradespeople in electrical contracting, plumbing, and other areas. These individuals can usually apply for the license (they may also have to sit for an exam) after verifying that they’ve worked in the trade for at least five years.

A journeyman is considered a competent practitioner of a given trade. He or she is experienced, but not yet an expert or a master of that trade. We use this example to highlight that fact that learning a trade isn’t something you do once. It’s a process. The longer you practice the trade, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get.

And the better you get at your trade, the more money you can make doing it.

In summary, it might only take a few weeks to prepare for an entry-level job in the trades. But actually learning a trade to mastery takes quite a while.

How to get hired for your first job in the trades

Ok, now you know how to learn a trade. But what about getting hired?

If you complete a program like Construction Ready, you might just meet your first employer during the course of your training. On the other hand, if you attend a community college, be sure to take advantage of campus career resources. Does the school have a job fair? If it does, be sure to attend! Also, does the program involve hands-on training or an internship with a trades contractor? If so, be sure to ask about job opportunities while you have the employer’s ear (and do a good job during your internship).

One thing many contractors and construction companies will look for are critical construction credentials, such as:

  • NCCER Core credential
  • OSHA 10-Hour Training
  • First Aid/CPR/BBP/AED Training
  • Competent Person in Fall Protection Credential
  • Powder Actuated Tool Certification

Trainees who complete Construction Ready’s 20-day program earn all of these credentials as well as a few others. Find out what credentials you can earn through your training program, and be sure to put them on your resume! You’ll want to point them out to potential employers during job interviews.

Speaking of interviews, be sure you’re engaged and curious when speaking to representatives from a company you want to work for. They’ll have questions for you, but you should have questions for them, too! They want to see that you’re truly interested in the job and that you’re curious about what it’s like to work for their company.

That’s how to learn a trade. Now go take the first step!

To find out more about Construction Ready or to enroll in the 20-day training course, contact us today! We’ll sign you up for our next information session. After that, we’ll talk with you about your career goals and determine whether Construction Ready is the best course of action for you.

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