Trade Programs & Certificates

If you’re handy with a wrench or hammer, you might decide to pursue a career as a skilled tradesperson.

There are plenty of options to choose from—plumbing, electrical work, construction, painting, kitchen and bath remodeling, tile and carpet installation, and so much more. Many people enjoy trade jobs because they love working with their hands—and they have some flexibility in setting their own hours.

The job outlook for trade work ranges from steady to robust. Electricians are projected to have the best growth at 8% growth throughout the 2020s, much faster than average for all occupations. Construction jobs are projected to increase by 5% during the decade, while the job market for plumbers is expected to expand by 4 percent for that same period.

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What You Will Learn

Tradespeople are typically trained through an apprenticeship program providing them with hands-on learning. Depending on the profession, the apprenticeship may be preceded or accompanied by in-class instruction or training courses. In some cases, apprentices may need to complete a certification course.

What You Can Earn

$37,000-$57,000: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $37,080 for construction laborers; $56,330 for plumbers; and $56,900 for electricians.

What to Set Your Sights On

With greater experience as a plumber or electrician, you will advance from apprentice to journeyman and eventually to master.

The Origins of Tradespeople

In Victorian England (1837-1901), skilled tradespeople were among the earliest to unionize.

A Day in the Life of a Tradesperson

Every day is different, which many tradespeople like. Depending on the profession, you may spend all day working on one project or work on projects for several different clients.

Job Security Abounds

Among the up-and-coming trade jobs is solar energy technician, with a median annual salary of $44,886.