Guide To Skilled Trade Training Paths (With Career Options)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Learning a trade can help you get a lucrative job in many fields. People who work in skilled trades receive the education and experience they require through specialised training, and the type of programmes they complete vary by trade. Exploring the types of skilled trade training programmes can help you choose the right path for a career that helps you reach your professional goals. In this article, we explain what skilled trades are and the types of training you can complete to become eligible for specific skilled trade jobs, along with the importance of such training.

Related: What Is Vocational Education? (With Definition And Types)

What is skilled trade training?

Skilled trade training typically requires less time than earning a college degree, and those who complete such training may find high-paying jobs faster than if they attended college. Skilled trades are occupations that require candidates to have certain knowledge, abilities and skills that apply specifically to their field. Here are the different types of skilled trades that you may choose from:

Skilled construction trades

These employees complete building, renovation and maintenance projects for homeowners, business owners and government agencies. They may work as members of a construction crew, or they may work independently as contractors. Candidates for skilled construction trades complete training, which varies based on their job, to ensure they can perform the required tasks safely and efficiently. Some skilled construction trades include:

  • roofer

  • carpenter

  • mason

  • plumber

  • electrician

Read more: What Is Mason Work? (Definition, Types And Salary)

Skilled service trades

Skilled service trades are those in which people provide specific services to others. They work in many fields, such as healthcare, hospitality, information technology (IT) and agriculture. Many people who work in service trades receive their education and experience through certificate programmes, which allows them to earn professional certificates that validate their skills and may help them find a job in their field. Some skilled service trades include:

  • conservation technician

  • farm equipment operator

  • food service manager

  • hairstylist

  • nurse

  • massage therapist

Skilled industrial trades

People who work in skilled industrial trades often work in manufacturing facilities, plants, warehouses and fabrication shops. Their trades involve using highly specialised equipment to perform tasks, which typically involve the production of goods. Industrial trades sometimes have risks because of the use of potentially hazardous tools and machinery, but training gives candidates the skills they require to keep themselves and others safe on the job. Some skilled industrial trade jobs include:

  • welder

  • machinist

  • tool and die maker

  • programmer

  • mechanic

What are the types of trade training paths?

The type of skilled trade training you may complete depends on your career goals. Some positions offer multiple options for qualification, while others require one training path. Here are some trade training paths and examples of jobs you can pursue with each type:

Military

Joining the military can give you many options for learning a skilled trade. Some people choose a specific branch based on the job opportunities they provide, particularly if they plan to stay in the military for the entirety of their career. You can also enter the military for a shorter period and transfer the skills you learn during your service to work in a skilled trade as a civilian.

As of 2022, the Indian Army, under the government's flagship scheme, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY), through National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) offers skill courses for prospective retirees. They offer courses in varied sectors like agriculture, automotive, construction, tourism and hospitality, healthcare, telecom, security, electronics, retail and logistics. Some skilled trades military veterans may pursue include:

  • automotive technician

  • veterinary technician

  • computer network technician

  • aircraft mechanic

  • power line technician

Training or certification programmes

Many community colleges also offer vocational programmes designed to prepare students for direct entry into the workforce. These programmes may result in professional certification, an associate degree or both. Students in training or certificate programmes usually attend full-time on a structured schedule, which allows them to complete their academic work and practical experience within a certain time frame. Like trade schools, community colleges provide financial aid and scholarship opportunities for qualified students in training and certification programmes. Some training and certification programmes candidates can pursue at community colleges include:

  • ultrasound technician

  • licensed practical nurse (LPN)

  • IT technician

  • paralegal

  • dental hygienist

Trade school

A trade school, also known as a vocational or technical school, is an educational training option that provides students with the knowledge and practical experience they require for certain careers. Some secondary schools offer programmes that allow students to begin technical education at a trade school before graduation, so they can enter their field immediately after.

Trade schools offer many types of vocational programmes, which usually take between a few months and two years to complete. Many offer grants, loans or scholarships to students who qualify. Some trade school programmes include:

  • cosmetology

  • massage therapy

  • welding

  • electrician

  • plumbing

Read more: What Is A Plumber? Complete Guide

On-the-job training

Career fields that offer on-the-job training allow candidates to complete their training during their job instead of attending a school or programme. Unlike apprenticeships, on-the-job training typically occurs as part of a regular position, so trainees are also employees.

They may take less time than trade school, certification programmes or apprenticeships to complete, as well. Careers you can get with on-the-job training may include:

  • wind turbine technician

  • solar panel installer

  • HVAC technician

  • elevator repairer

  • butcher

There are four typical types of on-the-job training. Here are the main characteristics of each:

Structured on-the-job training

When it comes to structured on-the-job training, you get a detailed training plan as a new hire from your employer. This plan may include a checklist of tasks, the details about who the supervisor is for these tasks and the desired objectives of the training. Some of these programmes may require you to sign a contract to become eligible for the training. Such training thus takes more effort and time for implementation and may prove to be more effective when it comes to preparing new employees for their jobs. Plus, it improves accountability for the trainers and also the trainees.

Unstructured on-the-job training

In unstructured on-the-job training, you are going to observe the more experienced employees of the organisation perform their jobs for a specific period. Your manager may ask you to observe a single employee or multiple employees. They do this so that you may learn the relevant abilities and skills from them. This type of training is ideal for those positions where you are less likely to require specialised skills for performing complex tasks.

Blended on-the-job training

Blended learning takes some of the features of on-the-job training and combines them with a few other types of training. You gain hands-on experience by shadowing other more experienced employees and also learn about the job by reading study materials, attending training events, watching training videos and completing online courses and classroom training. Blended training combines many different training methods and is effective for those positions that require specialised skills for performing complex tasks. Such training is suitable for those organisations where it is important for new employees to learn specific procedures and processes.

Standalone on-the-job training

In some organisations, job shadowing and hands-on practice may be enough for you to learn the basic skills required for your role. Such companies use the standalone method for training new employees. This method is especially useful when training is to be provided for uncomplicated roles or when the new employees already have previous work experience in the role.

Read more: On-The-Job Training For Efficient Staff Development

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are training experiences that allow people to learn a skilled trade by learning under the supervision of an experienced professional in their field. Many companies offer paid apprenticeships, which allow candidates to earn money while they learn. These typically take longer to complete than trade school or training certificate programmes.

Most apprentices can work independently in their field within three to five years of beginning their apprenticeships, and they typically sign a contract to work with their mentor for a certain amount of time in exchange for the training opportunity. Career fields that may offer apprenticeships include:

  • tattoo artistry

  • farming

  • horticulture

  • construction

  • technology

Related: Vocational Training: Definition, Types And Examples

Importance of skilled trade programmes

Skilled trade training is important because it enables you to learn employable skills by spending relatively less time. Some trade training programmes may run for a few months only, and during this time, you learn highly employable and in-demand skills. In these programmes, you may also get an opportunity to work on the actual jobs under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Trade training programmes are also important as these skills are very valuable.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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