Education in a Trade
Engaging our youth in the Trades – Advanced Education
Advanced Education doesn’t mean College Education
When your son or daughter embarks on a career in the trades, that doesn’t mean they’re never going to be a student again. In fact they’ll begin as a student or apprentice as they embark on an education in a trade. This apprenticeship and on the job training will be coupled with courses and certifications that will continue for their entire career well past the point they become a master in their trade.
The trades are always evolving, with new tools, products, regulations, and methods. To work in this environment the modern day trades person must maintain and renew qualifications and training throughout their career. To advance in position and responsibility one must take certified courses and pass exams to be successful.
This description of the construction industry doesn’t sound much different than a career in finance or medicine. And to be honest I don’t think there is that much of a difference, except for the latter two careers often start with an undergraduate degree.
We’ve already discussed the taboo surrounding “blue collar” work and the fact that their is an under-served industry waiting to be filled with bright young talent, so let’s focus on the places where you can get started to work in the trades.
A Union Apprenticeship is a great option for anyone considering a career in the trades. Union careers offer the opportunity to work for a reputable contracting company despite having little skills. Entering a union like the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America makes you eligible for benefits, including health insurance, and a pension. The Union Apprentice can also count on scheduled pay increases over the first four years while they learn their new trade.
The Union also continues to train their members through night, weekend, and paid courses throughout a members career. A union member has the opportunity to advance much like any other individual in a large company. Unions provide the resources, training, and opportunities to advance from a worker, to a crew leader, to foreman, to a supervisor!
Private Craftsmen Schools
Another great option for someone considering entering the trades is the many private schools that offer a focused education in a trade. For example a member of my crew attended the North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA where they offer a myriad of courses to prepare students to become anything from locksmiths to carpenters.
These courses range from 9 months to 18 months and provide students with an advanced understanding of their respective trades. A program like this one is great for someone new to the trades or a person who has a lot of experience in the field and wants to enrich their understanding of their trade.
Other private schools in New England offer certificates or workshop style education for the trades person like Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, VT. At Yestermorrow you can attend 2-day to 2-week courses focused on trade topics like design, electrical, and carpentry in periodically offered courses to supplement the on the job training you get as a helper with a small construction company.
Another similar school to Yestermorrow, but is focused more on the woodworker or cabinet maker is Homestead Woodworking School in New Market, NH. Here students can take an up to 10-week course on woodworking to begin a career in furniture making or cabinet making. Or you can supplement your carpentry knowledge with one day workshops on Joinery or Furniture Refinishing and Restoration.
If this article has failed to convince you that a career in the trades is worthwhile investment in your future and you are unwilling to budge on the necessity of a college education I’ll concede that there are some great degree programs in New England that focus on construction and construction management.
Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA has a well known program in construction management with connections to some of the biggest contracting companies in Boston, MA.
University of Massachusetts – Amherst also has a program in Building and Construction technology that prepares students for construction management careers with additional opportunities to learn to market engineered building materials.
Regardless of the choice to go to college or not a career in the construction industry and the trades are a lucrative, enriching, and highly sought after career path.
Without the men and women in the trades today our nation would come to a halt, regardless of how you get there, a career in the trades should be a happy consideration for future generations. The conscious or sub-conscious negative stigma we have developed in our country regarding the trades needs to be reversed. We need to stop and realize not only is this career a healthy and growing field, but one that will never go away.
Parents: A career in the trades is a great option for your child, they will be challenged by their work and receive the satisfaction of making the people they work for happy, which will give them ultimate job satisfaction. Oh and don’t worry mom and dad, they’ll make a good living.
Students: Don’t let convention guide your career choices. The trades are rich with smart, successful, and rich people. Be proud of your decision to become a plumber or take pride in your union apprenticeship. And don’t be afraid to ask mom and dad to help pay for an education in a trade such as carpentry. If the the trades are what you are interested in go for it! You have NOTHING to worry about.