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From Novice to Expert: Your Roadmap to Pursuing a Career in the Trades

Becoming a tradesman is an excellent life decision – training is easy to come by, employment opportunities are never-ending, you can make a lot of money, and it can be a stable life-long career. It takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years to skill yourself up in most given trades, and you can expect to find a job pretty quickly afterward.

Below, MK Industries offers a mini-guide that shares what you need to know about becoming a tradesman:

There are two major training routes

You’ll need to learn appropriate skills to be a tradesman. This includes hard technical skills, some people skills, and industry know-how. You can either choose to attend a trade school or apprentice under a skilled tradesperson in your niche. Both options have their pros and cons, which Indeed covers in detail. Here’s what you can expect if you pick either option:

Trade school: You can learn your trade at a formal school by paying a tuition fee, which can cost up to $30,000 for a two-year program. You’ll follow a fixed curriculum and learn from experienced teachers.

Apprenticeship: If you pursue an apprenticeship, you have more hands-on training (you learn on the job) and you get paid for it. You may have to contract with the trader for the duration, though, and it can take up to 5 years to graduate.

You don’t need a degree to be a skilled trader, although having one can be an advantage. The majority of tradesmen in the US (31%) have a high school diploma.

Best types of trades you can learn

The best trades you can learn are any that align with your interests and existing talents. Traditional trades like plumbing and electrical are in high demand and can be lucrative choices. Niche trade options like ship fitting, shipbuilding, sheet metal work, and welding also pay very well, not to mention that these trades can be enjoyable.

If you’d like to explore more about a particular trade and what a career looks like, you can find relevant information online. For example, to explore welding further, including what it takes to be a welder, visit a reputable welding resource with advice and reviews on welding and welding products. Click here for more.

You’ll need a license to ply your trade

Trades are heavily regulated in the US, meaning you need a license to operate in your state. While apprentice tradesmen don’t need licenses, journeymen and master tradesmen do (in most states).

Each state has different licensing rules and regulations, with different rules for any given trade. For example, to be a plumber, you may need a certain number of work hours, attend an approved training program, and pass a state exam. It’s a good idea to check your state’s license requirements before you start your training.

Finding a job

If you apprentice under someone, finding a job won’t be hard. You may be able to work with that trader full-time or leverage their network. If you graduated from a trade school, you will need to hunt for jobs the old-fashioned way – networking, job boards, approaching companies you like, and similar. Applying at a staffing agency like MK Industries can help you find a solid job with a good employer.

Starting your own business

Once you have enough experience and are confident in your skills, you could choose to work for yourself by launching a business. This offers extra flexibility and can be fairly lucrative. Writing a business plan will give you the clarity you need to organize your business and get started.

Part of starting a business means that you’ll need to market yourself to be successful. This starts with having an eye-catching logo, which can help you become a household name locally. You can use an online logo maker for creating a useful text logo by yourself, without having to pay for a logo design service. Simply choose a style and icon, add in the text you’ll need, view an assortment of logo options, and adjust fonts and colors.

In addition to a logo, you’ll want to have an easy-to-navigate website that shares all the necessary information about your business. Clear, upfront information is a must on your website, so be sure to include anything related to your services, as well as an email and phone number.

Creating contracts for you and your clients

If you’re going to be a contractor or business owner (or even an employee), you’ll need to educate yourself about contracts. Knowing how contracts work can help you secure more favorable terms, get paid on time, and avoid legal trouble. When writing a contract, use simple and understandable language, be specific about terms and conditions, and make sure it’s binding for both parties.

Apply for a loan to acquire machinery and tools

If you start your own business, you’ll need to supply your own machinery and tools to ply your trade. You can apply for a loan to acquire the equipment you need. Your credit score will play a critical role in obtaining a business loan, as it’s used by lenders to assess the likelihood of repayment, and it helps determine interest rates and terms offered. Maintaining a good credit score is important if you want favorable loan options, and you can check your score through Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.


As you embark on your journey from novice to expert in the world of trades, remember that every step you take is an investment in your future. The path may be challenging, requiring dedication, skill-building, and perseverance, but the rewards are substantial. As you accumulate experience, hone your craft, and cultivate a strong work ethic, you'll find yourself not only excelling in your chosen trade but also contributing to the growth and development of industries that form the backbone of our society.

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