Graduation season is upon us, and along with it comes the age-old question: What’s next? For some, college is a clear choice, while others may be seeking alternatives to higher education. No matter their future aspirations, graduating in a recovery-mode economy leaves the career path forward unpredictable. With an alarming shortage of workers in the skilled trades, PeopleReady Skilled Trades urges new graduates to consider a job in this growing sector.
In the past 30 days, more than 119,000 jobs have been posted for skilled trades-related jobs, bringing the number of active skilled trades job openings across the U.S. to roughly 281,000. The average number of job postings in the sector has increased 46 percent from this time last year and is up 32 percent compared with the pre-pandemic job market. The average hourly wage is roughly $22.50 with average annual earnings of nearly $47,000 a year.
“What we see right now is a continued high demand for tradespeople, creating immediate opportunities for this year’s high school graduates to get on a solid career path right out of school,” says Jill Quinn, executive leader of PeopleReady Skilled Trades. “While most job sectors saw declines, jobs in the skilled trades grew during the economic downturn. With technical training, whether in a trade school or through an on-the-job apprenticeship, today’s high school graduates can have solid job security with very competitive pay for their entire career.”
For those new high school graduates looking to get started in the skilled trades, PeopleReady Skilled Trades offers the following tips:
- Complete your basic education: If you haven’t already, get your high school diploma or GED. Many positions and apprenticeships will require it.
- Select your specialty (or trade): Find a trade that interests you. For example, are you interested in metalworking? Consider a career as a sheet metal worker, welder or millwright. Not sure what interests you? Think about starting as a general laborer to get a better feel for the various trades and make your decision from there.
- Seek training: After you’ve locked in your specialty, start thinking about formal training. There isn’t one key way to learn your craft. You can choose to enter an apprenticeship program or to enroll at a technical school or community college. To find apprenticeship programs and other training opportunities, check out the Association Builders and Contractors website.
- Gain certifications: A technical school or community college will often help you obtain the necessary certifications. If you choose the apprenticeship route, make sure you’re keeping your eye on the next steps of your career: journeyman. While not every trade or location offers a master-level certification, some will. For those that do, the next step after becoming a journeyman will be to become a master. This will require additional classroom training and another test to acquire the certification.
PeopleReady Skilled Trades highlighted the need for more people to consider careers in the trades during Respect the Craft Month in May, which celebrated the important work tradespeople do to help communities grow and thrive.
The skilled trades division of PeopleReady works throughout the U.S. to connect tradespeople, from highly skilled to apprentice-level and beginner, with work across a variety of trades.