Trade Careers

A skilled trade is one that requires a degree, diploma, license or certificate to perform a specific duty. Skilled trade professions are numerous and in high demand. Career opportunities range from construction management, landscape design and avionics, to manufacturing technology, plumbing and automotive. Coursework includes classroom instruction as well as hands-on apprenticeships that can help provide the foundation necessary for a successful and rewarding career. Job opportunities vary depending on the skilled trade career selected. However, as more environmentally sound methods of construction, heating, cooling and automotive become more mainstream, tradesmen with specialized skills will be in high demand.

Employment Opportunities

Skilled trade professionals may work in a variety of environments, including:

  • Construction sites
  • Building maintenance
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Installation, maintenance, and repair
  • And, as independent contractors


Trade professionals need a wide range of capabilities, including:

  • Good physical condition
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of tools and heavy equipment
  • Strong interest in new technology

Industry Spotlight

Job growth in skilled trades is expected to far outstrip employment growth in most other occupations. The largest number of new jobs is expected to be created in specialty trades contracting because it is the largest segment of the (construction) industry and because it is expected to grow about as fast as the rest of the construction industry. The number of jobs will grow as demand increases for subcontractors in new building and heavy construction, and as more workers are needed to repair and remodel existing homes, which specialty trade contractors are more likely to perform. Job opportunities are expected to be very good, as demand for skilled pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is expected to outpace the supply of workers well trained in this craft in some areas. In addition to jobs created by the increased demand for electrical work, many openings are expected over the next decade as a large number of electricians retire.

- Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008