Choosing the Right Trade Career

Monday, January 22, 2024
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While many high school graduates choose to attend college, that decision isn’t right for everyone. Some graduates want to start building their careers right after high school and find that entering a skilled trade fulfills them. 

If this sounds like you, you’ve likely looked at a long list of possible trades and wondered which career is right for you. 

Answering this question requires considering several factors about your current skill set, personality, and desires. Discovering a career that appeals to you and aligns with those aspects of your life can definitely be a game-changer. 

Evaluate Your Aptitude

What type of activities do you already excel at that you may be able to get paid for in the future? For example, are you good at drawing up plans or tinkering with gadgets until you figure out what’s wrong with them? You might consider becoming an electrician. Do you like building things with your hands? You may consider a career in construction or woodworking. 

Not everyone has the skills they want to become a career, but it’s worth considering whether you can build a future on something you’re already good at. Your aptitude will likely make you better at your job, which can certainly lead to personal fulfillment.

Assess Your Interests

You also want to ensure you choose a career you find interesting. There is nothing worse than waking up each morning to go to a boring job. This type of lifestyle can make you feel stuck or wonder how you can get more out of life.

Think about what you love to do and try to match it with trade school jobs you may like. For example, if you love researching new recipes and making dinner for your family, you might consider becoming a chef. Taking the time to assess your interests now can go a long way toward helping you find joy in your career later on.

Do Your Research

A career choice has a significant impact on your daily life. Consequently, you should conduct extensive research before you make a final choice. That research should answer the following questions:

  • Will I have to work long or irregular hours? 

  • Does this fit into my idea of a preferred work-life balance?

  • Does the earning potential of this trade allow me to have the lifestyle I desire?

  • Will this trade experience growth well into the future? 

  • Are new technologies affecting the job outlook of this career?

  • Have I seen multiple instances of people in this career field complaining in online forums? If so, what negative trends show up time and again?

  • Is this trade likely to affect my future health? If so, what can I do to guard against it?

You can find much of this information online. You might also get valuable information from trade school websites. Don’t forget to take notes on what you find so you can review your notes to compare your options.

Ask the Professionals

 two men chatting NSHSS

Internet research is important, but it can only tell you so much about particular trade school programs or careers. It can be helpful to pair what you’ve learned with anecdotal stories from those who do the job every day. If you know someone in the trade you’re considering, talk to them about what they like or dislike about it. 

If you don’t know anyone working in the trade you’re interested in, consider searching for a “trade school near me” online. Call or visit to see if you can talk to someone about the program. An informational interview with someone who knows the trade firsthand will be well worth the effort if it helps you find the right career.

Consider the Requirements

All trade school programs and professional licenses have requirements you must meet to move forward in your career. Many programs cost money, and you must be able to meet the financial obligations before you can graduate, either through scholarships, financial aid, or with your own funds. 

As you search online for a “trade school near me,” you may realize that programs also have attendance and GPA requirements. 

To find the right program and career, you’ll want to consider your learning style and needs. Do you need to work during the day and go to school in the evenings? Do you prefer learning online? What about taking a course to gain test-taking skills so you can pass your licensing exam? Ensure you can do what it takes to meet your chosen field's educational and experience requirements.

Creating the Future You Want Starts With the Choices You Make Today

While narrowing down trade school jobs to find the perfect career can seem daunting, it’s important to remember that your choice isn’t final. With some additional training and apprenticeship, you can change careers in the future if your original choice doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

The goal is to find something that works well with your talents and personality and offers you ample growth opportunities. When that happens, you’ll be much better positioned to experience the personal and professional fulfillment you desire.