What Are Tradesman Skills? (With Definition And Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 July 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.

Developing skills in the trades can define how you negotiate deals, conduct research and perform on-site tasks in small- and large-scale projects. If you are applying for a job as a tradesman, also known as a tradesperson, or plan to trade as an independent contractor, a trade skill set can improve your potential in business. Understanding trade skills can prepare you to upskill in relevant sectors and create an effective resume. In this article, we discuss tradesman skills, provide examples of such skills, discuss how to improve them and show how to highlight them during the hiring process.

What Are Tradesman Skills?

Tradesman skills are abilities such as carpentry, construction, plumbing and mechanical or electrical engineering. These skills typically demonstrate an individual's expertise in manual labour tasks and the dynamics involved in acquiring materials and approximating timelines. Depending on your proficiency, you may be eligible to apply for a contractor position. Such a role enables you to manage a team of manual labour professionals on various construction projects. For example, you might work as a contractor if you have skills in plumbing or carpentry.

Related: What Is A Plumber? Complete Guide

Examples Of Trades Skills

Here is a list of trades skills that may help you when applying for interviews:

Electrical

Electrical tasks may include undertaking wiring and lighting requirements in a construction project. Based on the building's purpose, you may work on basic or advanced electrical systems requiring different specialist equipment. As a tradesman, you can take responsibility for analysing and repairing existing electrical circuits in structures undergoing redevelopment. Many projects also involve new construction, so you can benefit from staying up to date with installation processes and safety precautions.

Plumbing

As a tradesman, knowing how to instal water piping to transport water and waste within the interior of a building can help you become an in-demand plumbing specialist. This skill is essential in building projects for installing toilets, showers and water outlets offering drinking water. Some plumbing professionals create blueprints to plan the space and material requirements for necessary plumbing. Where piping systems are eroding, your duties may include reconstruction planning and reinforcing existing pipes with anti-rust materials.

Mechanical

Important mechanical skills for a tradesman include managing and fixing motor vehicles or machines. Such tasks could demand knowledge of automotive fluid systems, auto glass installation, brake and transmission systems or heavy equipment. If you have considerable knowledge of this sector, you might find it beneficial to apply for contractor positions involving company vehicles or factory equipment maintenance.

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

Painting

Construction projects require tradespeople who understand painting techniques, colour combinations and surface types. There are many painting accessories and application methods, so tradespeople invest time in learning this skill and offering it as a service to employers. There are also varying paint types and companies that sell different paint grades for residential and industrial projects. Hiring managers often seek experienced candidates for painting tasks. You can apply for a skilled tradesman position by becoming an expert in this field.

Renovation

Tradespeople often work on renovation projects requiring a basic knowledge of construction equipment, acquiring materials from vendors and budgeting. This role may involve working with manual labourers to demolish buildings and discard debris. You may also contribute to planning residential or industrial aspects of the structure during renovation. Renovation skills can help you win tender contracts to redevelop large residential complexes or industrial buildings.

Carpentry

This field commonly involves cutting, polishing and fitting materials as part of complete structures. For example, carpenters build furniture and ensure wall fittings are securely in place. Also known as woodworkers, these professionals thoroughly understand which adhesive materials and nail types support component integration on a construction site. They collaborate with plumbers, painting teams and electricians to complete installations correctly.

How To Improve Your Skills As A Tradesman

Here are the steps to improve your skills as a tradesman and prepare for senior-level jobs:

1. Obtain an on-site internship

If you aspire to become a tradesman, look for internships that expose you to on-site activities in your sector. An internship lets you learn how manual labourers transport materials to different parts of a site and how each team works to stay on schedule. Your training may focus on a specialisation, such as plumbing, flooring or electrical, allowing you to learn more about the sector. For example, an internship emphasising flooring techniques teaches you about foundation and surface materials through practical experience.

Related: What Is A Carpenter? And How To Become One

2. Keep yourself updated on the changes in safety requirements

The construction industry consistently uses new or upgraded equipment for specific tasks. For example, a site may utilise a particular crane for lifting and transporting high-load iron bars. All such jobs have unique safety requirements that guide you in keeping your team safe from injury. Another benefit of understanding safety regulations is saving on unnecessary expenditure due to poorly planned or substandard construction projects. Make sure you learn these skills and study recommendations from regional or state authorities.

3. Add a certification or licence to your education

Additional certifications or licences educate you on standard business practices and improve your skills as a tradesman. You can apply for programmes that enhance your carpentry, plumbing, electrical, flooring, dry installation, framing or even inspection skills. Certification gives you insightful details about your trade, preparing you to participate in on-site projects. For example, taking a course on using load transportation machines in development projects may help you find work on large-scale renovations.

4. Volunteer with tradespeople

Volunteering on existing projects on an as-needed or pay-per-hour basis is a pathway to joining an on-site team. You can use the connections you make during your education or internships to ask about potential vacancies. Once you find a position, you can ask questions and use your existing skills to create solutions for on-site problems. For example, if your background is in framing, you can volunteer as an electrical installation assistant to help the team members with any issues involving measurements for complicated wiring circuits. This way, you can use your prior framing knowledge to get involved in the electrical department.

Tradesman Skills In The Workplace

Here are some tips for applying tradesman skills in the workplace:

  • Identify errors. Closely look at your colleagues when they are performing tasks and use your knowledge of electronics, carpentry, painting or other trade disciplines to identify errors in their process. For example, upon observing wastage of paint, you can correct a crew member on the quantity of paint they use for different furniture and wall types.

  • Suggest alternative solutions. If you recognise any potential for improving project workflows, share your opinions with the senior members in your team. They may take this as a sign of your multidisciplinary approach, increasing the chances of a promotion.

  • Practise proactive communication. Try to be aware and responsive to progress and problems in all departments, whether plumbing or mechanical. This proactive behaviour explains your willingness to deliver quality projects through proper collaboration with every crew member.

Ways To Highlight Tradesman Skills

Here are some ways you can highlight your skills during the hiring process:

On the resume

Use sections such as education, work experience and skills to highlight different learnings during your career as a tradesman. While the education section can mention any case studies, surveys or internships you were a part of, the work experience section mentions your core responsibilities during past jobs. Mention how your skills helped in a project, whether through delegation, time management or technical expertise. Also, include a skills section to highlight your interpersonal skills.

In the cover letter

Writing a cover letter specific to the exact job role you are applying for makes it easier to provide information in direct response to the job's responsibilities. Note the key job-specific terminologies and address these words by explaining your successful contributions relevant to the role. Clearly state why your capabilities as a tradesman are suitable for the open position. You can include titles of your past projects and highlight the outcome of your skills. Another important point is to inform the employer of what experience you have and how this knowledge can fulfil the duties of the job role.

During a job interview

During job interviews, it is best to focus your responses on your skills as a tradesman. If some questions are about your challenges as a tradesman, talk about what skills you learned and developed through the challenge. The job interview is your opportunity to highlight your strengths and speak about how you intend to improve upon your weak skills. Make sure to articulate how all credits to your achievements as a tradesman were possible because of specific skills.

Additional Tips For Including Trades Skills On A Resume

Here are some more tips that can help you include your skills in your resume:

Mention your skills briefly in the summary

Use the first section of your resume to highlight your core skills as a tradesman. You can describe your competencies in the first sentence and mention what you aspire to achieve in the industry in the second sentence. This statement briefly outlines your work history and the position you seek.

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

List your skills in the skills section

If you have already mentioned a skill twice, think of additional trade skills you can add here. Also, write your level of expertise near the skill to help the employer evaluate your proficiency. For example, use terms like beginner, intermediate or expert. Another option is to specify your additional construction skills with a few added words.

Explore more articles