So, Let’s consider: the right career or trade for you
OK, so I’ve been doing the same gig I’ve been doing for most all my life. I’ve done a little university teaching as well and frankly I wish there were more of it out there as I kinda like it more than the normal gig. But then, this week I needed a plumber. I can’t believe how much those guys get an hour! I’m talking quotes of $150/hr and more! That’s a lot of green stuff! An then there’s electricians, carpenters, masons, etc! Did I make the right job decision back years ago?
More frequently the decision of going to college to get your degree and then find work is being called into question by the trades. And offering shop class in high school is DEFINATELY being called into question as to why it was removed from availability in the first place! It’s a given that we need workers that know the trades and frankly if I had any idea these guys were going to be making that kinda of money and not have to wear a tie all day I would have given it serious thought long ago!
With this column I’m going to try to concentrate specifically on trade vocations, but, you can extrapolate much of what I’m talking about and use it in your searchings for what you want to do in and with your life.
So, chances are your parents did some kind of work. You may have helped them at their jobs. Did you like it? Maybe you were lucky enough to take shop in the few high schools left that offer it. Was there something you enjoyed? Carpentry? Masonry? Welding? Or maybe they did office/business work and you just really hate the idea of being stuck in an office! So, let’s look at what things you may be looking seriousely at.
What about this kind of work interests you?
Trust me, if you have a line of work that pays good cash, that’s nice. It’s A LOT NICER if you enjoy what you do. So take some time to think and answer: What is is about this gig that I like? Would I enjoy doing this for a long time? Do I know someone else doing the same gig? Would I want to be like them? Are they making the kind of money that I think I should be making?
With trades, as in any line of work, the earlier you get into the one you like and develop your expertise base in it, the better you are going to be and the more in demand your skill sets will be.
What are your interests and what’s important to you?
Here again, you need to take some self inventory time. If you don’t like working with sewer pipes, then chances are plumbing may not be for you. If you have a fear of getting shocked, either grow out of it (easy to do) or remove electrician from consideration.
Are there any global causes that you find of interest? SPCA for instance is in regular need of people that like to care for animals. The park service likes people that enjoy working the outdoors and natural preservation. Trades extend into health care, veterinary, horticulture, agriculture and the list goes on…
What skill sets and experience do you offer?
Make a checklist of what skills and experience you bring to the table. This is important. And keep it updated.
Many trades have apprenticeship programs that will help you develop these skill sets. Many of these are offered through the trade unions. Most of groups are looking to develop a skill set that you have already developed some form of aptitude for or have a special interest in. Classes in high school, trade school, community colleges, etc., offer great cirriculums as well in getting the book knowledge, but more importantly the hands on experience, that you will need as your career develops.
Explore, play and learn while you decide
An old baseball pro once said “you can see a lot just by watching…” So, go watch. If you’re thinking something in the line of construction, find a foreman that will let you watch what’s going on at a construction site. Same thing goes for working at a nursery, animal shelter or vet office, etc. If you haven’t already had exposure to what you may think you’ll like, go get some. Ask questions. Find out how they learned what they did, who taught them, how, when, where… Go talk to your local trade schools, vocational schools, even perhaps high school career counselors and shop teachers. Learn how to strike an arc and burn a bead…frankly, welders are making a heckuva lot more nowadays than bean counters are!
Am I saying that time spent in college is wasted? Well, it depends. If you’re sitting in classes that are any of the many esoteric liberal arts classes that basically only your teacher and a handful of others have ever heard of the subject matter, then, yeah, there may be reason for question. But, if you’re looking to build your future by understanding how to run a business, communicate with future clients, understand their businesses, or build your knowledge of your trade then taking that class might be a good idea.
The world has enough people that can quote Shakespeare…and frankly his quotes are about as dead as he is. We are in need of people that know how to keep our houses and businesses together and build infrastructure. Chaucer and Shakespeare, well, not so much. We also need people that know how to care for plants and provide food, as well as those we can go to when we need some medical help, build things and many more of the more skilled based hands-on types of work. We call these the trades.
All the best as you think and explore where you want to be in your life.
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.