How to Prepare for Learning a Trade

Do you enjoy working with your hands or seeing concrete results from your work? If so, it’s worth it to consider learning a trade. 

Unlike careers that require a four-year degree, trade jobs typically require you to complete a career certificate, apprenticeship, or learn on the job. Learn more about preparing to learn a trade, from choosing the right career for you to finding the right school.

What Is a Trade?

When people talk about trade jobs or careers, they usually mean jobs that require training or skills not earned in a four-year degree program. 

Most trade jobs require training, such as construction or plumbing positions. But, in many cases, you can learn the required skills on the job. People often get started in a trade by enrolling in an apprenticeship program, which combines on-the-job training with additional instruction and a paycheck.

There are many reasons to consider learning a trade versus enrolling in a four-year degree program. With a trade, you’re prepared for a specific job, making it much easier to find work once you’ve completed training. Many trades also pay well and offer stability.

What Are the Best Trades to Learn?

The best trade to learn is one that aligns with your skills and interests and offers a stable career path. The list of available trades is long and includes jobs in the construction, beauty, restaurant, and medical industries, among others.

When deciding on a trade, think about what you enjoy doing. If you’re always in the kitchen, whipping up a new creation, a career as a chef, or in food service is worth considering. If you’re the person people go to when they need style, makeup, or hair advice, consider working in cosmetology. If you enjoy building or fixing things, a career in construction or as an HVAC technician may be in the cards.

Also, consider how long it will take to learn the trade. The easiest trades to learn typically have shorter certificate programs, meaning you can get started in your career and start earning a paycheck faster.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) details job prospects and salaries for numerous careers. As you narrow down your list of possible trade careers, consult the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to get an idea of typical salaries, job demand and expectations for each career.

What Is a Trade School?

A trade school is a post-secondary educational program that prepares you for working in a trade. Orange Technical College is an example of a trade school, as we offer training and credentialing programs to help our students start their careers, become apprentices or gain new skills.

Usually, you need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in a trade school, but some programs will accept students still in high school.

Steps to Take to Learn a Trade

If you’ve decided that learning a trade is the right path for you, here’s what you need to do to get started:

  • Research jobs and careers: First things first, learn more about the types of jobs available in your chosen trades. You’ll also want to learn about career trajectory and advancement opportunities. If you start as a junior plumber, what will you need to do to move up the ladder? Learn as much as possible about employment opportunities, what a day on the job is like, and salary details.
  • Find a training program: Next, research trade schools and training programs. You want to choose a program that will give you the skills you need to succeed on the job, and that will help you get into a role. When researching programs, look at the cost of the training, how long it takes, and what you’ll learn. Some programs offer only classroom instruction while others combine classroom learning with on-the-job experience. You want a program that provides both.
  • Complete training: Once enrolled in a program, stick with it until the end. Once your program is complete, you’ll have a certificate that shows you’ve learned the skills needed to succeed.
  • Pass any required exams: Many trades require you to pass an exam demonstrating your skills and knowledge. You may also need a license before you start working. 

Orange Technical College can help you prepare for a fulfilling trade career, through our certificate and apprenticeship programs. Contact us today to learn more about the enrollment process and the programs we offer.