Welcome! In this article, we offer just what you need if you’re looking to expand your existing knowledge or develop expertise for skilled trades or service jobs. There are many opportunities for acquiring practical, hands-on skills in these fields. You can take advantage of a variety of training programs and learning opportunities to help you get closer to your goals. You can start investigating immediately to take advantage of these training and career changing resources.
Skilled trades give you a great alternative to jobs that require a four-year college degree. While skilled trades can be divided into many areas such as manufacturing, technology, energy, and healthcare, they mainly fall into the following three categories.
- Skilled Industrial Trades: welders, machinists, mechanics, tool and die makers, programmers
- Skilled Construction Trades: electricians, plumbers, gasfitters, carpenters, bricklayers, technicians, insulators
- Skilled Service Trades: nurses, aides, orderlies, therapists, service technicians.
Overall, the best way to get training for hands-on experience and skills for these types of careers will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. You may need to do some research and consider your options carefully before making a decision. Some options include:
- Apprenticeship Programs: These are structured training programs that combine on-the-job experience with technical instruction. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade while getting paid.
- Vocational Schools: These schools offer specialized training in a variety of trades, such as welding, automotive repair, and culinary arts.
- Community Colleges: Many community colleges offer certificate and associate degree programs in hands-on and service skills and trades.
- Online Courses and Training Programs: Numerous online courses and training programs are available that can teach you the skills you need to succeed in a trade.
- On-the-Job Training (OJT): Some employers offer on-the-job training for employees who are interested in learning a trade. This can be a good option if you are already employed and want to learn new skills.
- Path To Pro – Free training to prepare you for a career in the trades.
- Apprenticeship Job and Program Finder – search open apprenticeship job opportunities from employers and apply directly to the employer of an apprenticeship program. Also find an apprenticeship programs that are accepting new applications.
- Explore Approved Occupations For Registered Apprenticeships – browse by industry or search by occupation.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook (www.bls.gov/ooh/) covers hundreds of occupations and describes the job duties, work environment, pay, and much more. It’s updated every two years.
- O*NET Online (www.onetonline.org) provides occupational information which includes the
occupational code, SVP code, job title, job description, knowledge, skills, abilities, tools, work
activities and interests necessary for the occupation.
- Browse Bright Outlook Occupations – lists occupations that are expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, will need large number of new job openings, or are new and emerging occupations.
- Browse by Job Zone – groups occupations into one of five categories based on levels of education, experience, and training necessary to perform the occupation.
- CareerOneStop.org lists the knowledge, skills, activities and the common educational level of the
- Local Training Finder – find training programs, schools, or colleges majors in any local area. Enter a type of job or training, or the name of a school, then your city, state, or zip code.
- GetMyFuture – find a career that makes you happy every morning you wake up.
- Which occupations are growing or declining in your area – identifies the fastest growing occupations, the occupations with the most job openings, and the occupations with the most employment.
- Explore Careers – what kind of career will fit you best?
- Skills Matcher – helps job seekers identify occupations that use their skills, find gaps they need to fill, or polish their resume.
- Certification Finder – find the right certification to boost your qualifications, search by Certification Name, Organization, Industry or Occupation.
- License Finder – search in any state for an occupation or job title, a license name, or a state agency that oversees licensing.
- Scholarship Finder – search more than 8,000 scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other financial aid award opportunities.
- Career in Trades Videos – these discuss many of the skilled trades, along with stories and experiences of certified journeypersons.
- My Next Move – search careers by industry and key words or get suggested careers that match your interests and training.
- Saylor Academy – a non-profit organization providing more than 70 free self-paced online courses in 18 different areas. You earn a free certificate of completion by passing the final exam with at least 70 percent correct.
- Aquent Gymnasium – courses in digital, creative, and communications, offering nine free online courses on subjects such as web design and content development. Receive a free certificate of excellence when scoring at least 85 percent on the final exam.
- Jobs of the Future – remote-ready middle school student activities on discovering and planning for careers and youth apprenticeships. Also: Introducing Apprenticeships and Soft Skills Activities.
Freely Available Books on the Skilled Trades
- Auto Mechanics
- Cutting and Sewing
- Motorcycle Mechanics
Trade Activity Plans – Books (pdf)
- Automotive Service Technician
- Baker Activity Plans
- Carpenter Activity Plans
- Cook Activity Plans
- Core Activity Plans
- Design Activity Plans
- Drafting 2D Drawing Activity Plans
- Drafting 3D Modelling Activity Plans
- Electrician Activity Plans
- Electronics and Robotics Activity Plans
- Metalwork Activity Plans
- Plumber Activity Plans
125 Training and Learning Documents for Skilled Trades and Service Jobs
- Aluminum Ring Bowl
- Assemble Extension Cord
- Automotive Service Safety Considerations
- Bake for Allergies
- Basics 4 Stroke Engines
- Becoming an Automotive Service Technician
- Biscuit Making by Hand
- Build Aluminum Whistle
- Build Cross Peen Hammer
- Build Drill Press Vise
- Build Full Height Wall
- Build Sawhorse
- Build Wall Mockup
- Career Exploration Metal Trades
- Careers In Construction
- Carpenter Overview
- Cast Iron
- Circuit Concepts
- Circuit Drawings and Wiring
- Communication Self Assessment
- Compressed Air Skills
- Compression Testing
- Connecting Wires
- Create Business Plan Hold Bake Sale
- Create Maintain Journal Portfolio
- Culinary Arts Trade Training
- Decorate With Basic Garnishes
- Defining Design
- Describe Function of Ingredients
- Design Challenge
- Design Process Manufacturing
- Design Social Responsibility
- Drafting Careers
- Electric Acceleration
- Electrical Equipment
- Electrical Hazards
- Fabricate Coat Hook
- Fabricate Cookie Sheet
- Fabricate Tool Caddy
- Fabricate Trivet
- Fabrication Resources
- Fishing a Receptacle in Wall Socket
- Fixtures Installation
- Folding Mobile Work Bench
- General Metal Shop Safety
- Hand Tools Power Tools
- How to Become an Electrician
- Hydroponic Gardening
- Introduction to Carpentry Power Tools
- Introduction to Electrical Theory
- Introduction to Machining
- Introduction to Residential Wiring
- Introduction to Sheet Metal Fabrication
- Introduction to Tools and Equipment
- Introduction to Welding
- Jenga Game
- Lay Out a Full Height Wall
- Lifting Vehicles
- Locker Shelving
- Make Bake Hand Stretched Neapolitan Pizza
- Make BBQ Flipper
- Make Cupcakes
- Make Flatbread With Toppings
- Make Hibachi
- Make Mini Shield Letter Opener
- Make Modelling Chocolate Roses
- Make Pencil Holder
- Make Picture Frame
- Make Safe
- Make Welded Die
- Make White Pan Bread
- Material Identification
- Metal Stock Identification
- Metallurgy Presentation
- Music Speaker Set
- Nuts and Bolts
- Oil Change
- Overview of the Electrical Trade
- Planter Box
- Problem Solving Models
- Rebar Trellis
- Research Basic Foodand Kitchen Safety
- Research Day In The Life Of Baker
- Research Essential Baking Equipment
- Residential Wiring Model Part 1
- Residential Wiring Model Part 2
- Residential Wiring Model Part 3
- Roadside Survival
- Scale a Recipe
- Sheet Metal Toolbox
- Simple Electric Motor
- Solder Wire
- Solvent Welding
- Thread Connections
- Tire change
- Tire Identification
- Tire Repair
- Tool Tutorial – Clamps
- Tool Tutorial – Cordless Drill
- Tool Tutorial – Hammer
- Tool Tutorial – Hand Saw
- Tool Tutorial – Linesman’s Pliers
- Tool Tutorial – Multimeter
- Tool Tutorial – Speed Square
- Tool Tutorial – Tape Measure
- Tool Tutorial – Wire Strippers
- Toy Car
- Use Hand Tools
- Vehicle Inspection
- Visit Bakery
- Wheel Balance
- Wind Chimes
- Wiring Devices
- Wiring Wall Section
- Wooden Door Mat
- Woodshop Safety
- Work Based Learning Factsheet
- Working Designer
- YouthPathway to a Career Graphic
Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade while getting paid. Some people are shocked to hear that there are apprenticeships available for professions in practically every area, and that youth apprenticeships in particular can give teenagers an early start on a career with an industry-recognized credential they can use elsewhere as proof of their ability. Because the legal working age in most states is 16, youth apprenticeships are typically designed for high school juniors and seniors. To name a few, high-demand industries that offer youth apprenticeships include advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, information technology, engineering, and marketing.
The process starts with an application an apprenticeship program in your chosen field, such as electrician. If you’re accepted, you’ll then the company will assign a mentor to you as the apprentice, and this mentor is an experienced tradesperson, such as an electrician, who will teach you all the skills and knowledge required. The majority of the training will happen on the job, where you will get to learn by doing and receive hands-on training from your mentor. You will also typically spend some time in a classroom or other training environment, learning the theoretical and technical aspects of the trade.
Once the apprenticeship program is completed, you’ll receive a certificate or other formal recognition of their training and will be qualified. This certificate is usually issued by the state and it’s recognized by the industry, it’s a great way to demonstrate that you have completed the necessary training and passed the required exams to be able to work safely and effectively. Apprenticeship programs are offered in a wide range of trades, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, HVAC, and many others. They are a great way to gain practical, hands-on experience and build a career in a skilled trade.
A Pre-Apprenticeship is essentially a training program that helps prepare an individual for a Registered Apprenticeship. It provides a combination of classroom training and hands-on learning activities that are aligned with the skills needs of employers in the region. You’ll also get access to careers advice and other support services to help you figure out what kind of career you want to pursue and how the skills you learn can be applied to that career. The program also aims to help you earn at least one industry-recognized credential. And on completion of the program the aim is to place you in a registered apprenticeship program. Here is a construction industry pre-apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeship opportunities are often advertised on well-known job sites. Use “apprenticeship” as a search term or filter on these sites.
The following unions all sponsor apprenticeships:
- HBI apprenticeships
- Service Employees International Union
- United Auto-Workers Union
- National Electrical Contractors Association
- Plumbers and Steamfitters Union
Vocational schools, also known as trade schools or technical schools, offer specialized training in a variety of hands-on and service skills and trades. These schools are designed to provide students with the practical skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a specific career or trade.
Here’s how they typically work:
- Vocational schools offer a variety of programs in fields including welding, auto repair, culinary arts, and more.
- Their programs are designed to provide students with the practical skills they need to succeed in their chosen fields and typically last one to two years.
- Classes are often small and provide tailored instruction and hands-on training for all participants.
- Internships and other forms of on-the-job training are sometimes part of programs that provide students with hands-on experience. Look at the Federal Internship Portal to find internship opportunities.
- Students who successfully complete the program can receive a certificate or diploma confirming completion of training and their ability to work in their chosen profession.
Vocational schools are an excellent option for students who wish to acquire a specific vocation and enter the industry as soon as feasible. They provide concentrated, hands-on instruction that can assist students in developing the skills and information required to excel in their chosen area.
Community colleges are two-year institutions of higher education that offer a wide range of programs, including those in hands-on and service skills and trades. Community colleges are often a more affordable option than four-year colleges and universities, and they typically offer a variety of certificate and associate degree programs that can prepare students for careers in a variety of fields.
Here’s how community colleges typically work:
- Community colleges provide a wide range of programs in a number of subjects, including hands-on and service skills and trades.
- Programs normally span two years and result in an associate degree, which is less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high school diploma.
- General education classes (such as arithmetic, English, and history) are often included in associate degree programs, as are courses in the student’s field of study.
- Some community colleges also offer certificate programs, which are shorter, more focused programs that can assist students develop specific trade or field skills and expertise.
- Community colleges sometimes offer lower class numbers and a more personalized educational approach than four-year institutions and universities.
- Students will earn a certificate or degree at completion of a program, showing that they have finished their studies and are competent to enter their chosen field.
People who wish to advance their education and get ready for a job in a practical business or service trade may find community colleges to be a wise alternative. They give students with the abilities and information required to be successful in their chosen sector and offer a more cost-effective and flexible option to four-year institutions and universities.
Online Courses and Training Programs
Online courses and training programs are educational programs can be completed online via the Internet. These types of courses provide learners with a straight-forward and adaptable approach to learning new trade skills and knowledge from anywhere, anytime.
Here’s how online courses and training programs typically work:
- Various organizations, including schools, universities, and commercial enterprises, provide online courses and training programs.
- They can be studied full-time or combined, and students generally have a wide range of subjects and fields of study to choose from.
- Online courses and training programs are often self-paced, meaning students can work at their own pace within a set time limit.
- Many online courses and training programs include interactive features such as discussion forums, video lectures and virtual tutoring to help students stay in touch with their lecturers and peers.
- Students who successfully complete an online course or training program are typically presented with a certificate or other form of official reward as proof of their success.
People who wish to gain new skills and information but are unable to attend traditional in-person classes due to time or location restrictions may benefit from online courses and training programs. They provide a flexible and convenient learning environment and may be an excellent method to master new skills and boost your career.
On-the-Job Training (OJT)
On-the-job training (OJT) refers to training that is provided to employees while they are working. This is a great way for employees to learn new skills and knowledge and gain practical experience in their chosen field.
Here’s how on-the-job training typically works:
- Employees who wish to gain new skills or develop in their professions might receive on-the-job training from their company.
- Training occurs while the person is at work, frequently under the guidance of a more experienced worker or mentor.
- Hands-on training, workshops, and seminars are all examples of on-the-job training.
- Internal training can be offered, or the employee might be sent to an external training program or course.
- Employees may acquire new skills and get practical experience while continuing to work and earn a wage through on-the-job training.
On-the-job training is a popular method employed by staff members to advance in their positions. This is economical way for employers to teach their staff members as well as a helpful tool for employee development and growth.
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