When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, our economy suffered. Many employees were laid off, and industries as a whole slowed (or stopped) their hiring. Despite this, however, the skilled trades sector has continued to boom. Between March 2020 and January 2021, many skilled trade jobs doubled and even tripled in employment growth. This is because, even in an unpredictable job market, there is an inherent and dire need for skilled tradespeople.
Fortunately, more and more individuals are recognizing the value that a trade job can offer. Wages for trade jobs are growing, and employers are increasing the standards for benefits offered—efforts designed to attract more workers into these fields. In turn, the job market for trade jobs is becoming competitive. So, how do you break into the workforce? What level of education, certification, and qualifications do you need to pursue a skilled trade? Learn how to get a trade job in today’s climate.
Trade Job Education Requirements
A trade job is an occupation that requires a specialized skill or skillset. Skilled trade jobs are typically hands-on, technical professions—and therefore require training. Tradespeople often learn by experiences on the job or in a practical training program. However, the specific educational requirements will vary depending on the job title, skills required, and place of work. In almost all cases, earning your high school diploma or GED is the required first step.
After that, the educational requirements can vary. In general, trade jobs require no more than two years of postsecondary education and training. As explained by ZipRecruiter, “A trade job generally refers to any job whose duties require advanced training and skills gained through means other than a bachelor’s degree.” Training for a trade job, therefore, is typically done in the form of:
- A career-focused, postsecondary training program
- An associate degree program
- An apprenticeship
- On-the-job training (when available)
It’s important to note that more and more employers are seeking job candidates who have training under their belts, prior to entering the field. For example, a recent survey of the Connecticut manufacturing workforce found that “on-the-job training is rarely offered” and, “for the most part, manufacturers expect new employees to arrive already trained.”
As you look to break into a trade job, it is important to research the specific education requirements or expectations that your desired field holds. Different trades have different requirements. For example:
- Dental Hygienists must have a minimum of an associate degree
- Medical Assistants must have at least a postsecondary, non-degree award (such as a certificate)
- Welders typically need formal training before entering the field
- CNC Machinists must have at least a high school diploma, but a postsecondary certificate is preferred
- Criminal Investigators need at least a high school diploma, but an associate degree is required by many employers today
Trade Job Certification Requirements
Just as the education requirements will vary by employer and job title, trade job certification requirements will also vary. For some occupations, such as healthcare-related jobs, certification and/or licensing is often required. For other professions, certification is not required, but carries great benefits.
Professional certification in a given trade demonstrates expertise. When applying for trade jobs, having an expert credential on your resume – such as a Medical Assistant certification – can give you a significant advantage against the competition. It will underline your mastery and dedication to this career, as well as differentiate you from other candidates. Additionally, professional certification can:
- Increase your starting salary and earning potential
- Qualify you for more jobs in your desired trade
- Establish professional credibility and respect, as an expert
- Improve your chances for job growth/upward mobility
Again, as you research how to get a trade job in your desired field, be sure to understand all the potential certification requirements. Even more, take it a step further and research your certification options. Even if certification is not required in your trade, there may still be an opportunity to put those credentials on your resume. Examples of expert certifications in the skilled trades space include:
- Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC)
- Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) credential, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC)
- Certified Welding Inspector credential, from the American Welding Society (AWS)
- Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential, American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential, from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- Certified Bookkeeper (CB), American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB)
To earn certification, you will be required to fulfill certain training, education, and/or experiential requirements, typically followed by an examination to test your level of skills and knowledge. Be sure to do your research to decide which certification is right for you – and what’s required to get there.
Launching a Skilled Trade Job
As you can see, the steps to getting into a trade job differ, depending on your desired field and job title. However, there are some basic steps you can take to get a trade job, no matter the occupation:
- Complete your high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Pursue postsecondary training, through a formal education or training program, an apprenticeship, or on-the-job training
- Achieve professional certifications or licensing in your field of work
- Start working, earning, and gaining experience in the field
If you are ready to take on step two, you may be looking at various trade schools and programs offered. Trade schools, vocational schools, and technical schools are all types of schools that offer practical training programs towards in-demand trade careers.
However, more and more students are considering career-focused training and degree programs, to advance their career potential and land the trade jobs of their dreams. Career-focused colleges provide the practical, hands-on training needed to learn a trade, as well as the comprehensive education needed to advance and grow in the field. Learn more here.
Goodwin University is a career-focused school in Connecticut, offering a range of degree and certificate programs geared towards rewarding trades careers. If you are looking to land a trade job and do not know where to start, consider exploring our various training programs in Connecticut. Many of the programs at Goodwin are offered in flexible, accelerated formats so that you can get into the workforce fast. Goodwin University also works with employers throughout Connecticut, and has designed our programs to help you gain the exact skills employers are looking for in these fields of work.
Learn more about Goodwin University by calling 800-889-3282 or requesting more information online.