I’m amazed by how little the average person knows about the trades industry. And how could they know? In my experience, our educational culture pushes university and college as education options. Trades being for those not smart enough for college or university is a harsh stigma that I’ve witnessed. This misconception frustrates me.
I’ve heard, “you’re so smart, why did you get into the trades instead of going to university?” Trades school is a condensed set number of weeks where you’re expected to retain a lot of information. The theory component is just as important as the physical work. You have to stay on top of the assignments, and tests. There is no slacking your way through. You either know it or you don’t.
I believe our society needs to get more on board with the trades being a viable career path. Even though I’m working towards being an electrician now, doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll be doing forever. Eventually, I could start my own business, be a project manager, an Electrical Inspector, work for the College of Trades, or become a trades school teacher just to name a few.
When I was starting to explore this option, it was difficult to find the information I was looking for. There were bits and pieces here and there, but no one really painted the full picture. Here is what I’ve gathered along the way with regards to my experience:
- An apprenticeship, regardless of what trade you’re in, averages about 90% of your time on the job, and 10% in school.
- There has been a lot of leg work involved just to get my foot in the door, and a lot of things I had to figure out for myself. There wasn’t really anyone to walk me through the steps.
- The biggest hurdle I had when starting out was finding a company to sponsor me. Companies typically are reluctant to hire someone that’s new to the trades. To combat this, pre-apprenticeship programs are becoming more popular. These programs give people some basic knowledge and hands-on in the shop. This way they can begin contributing a little more from day one and bring added value to the company as a new apprentice. It is also important for companies to remember that we need to support those who want to get into the trade. We all started somewhere.
In some ways, a trades career is no different than college or university. You aren’t just handed a job, you must take the initiative, do your research and put yourself out there. I promise, it’s worth the hard work, as I firmly believe this has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
– Mechanical Techniques – Electrical Monitoring & Systems, 2014
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