You’d like to become skilled in a construction trade and have started thinking about choosing a specialty. One of the great things about construction is the many paths you can take to get where you want to go; this is true whether you want to remodel kitchens, oversee the building of skyscrapers, or work as a trade contractor in a very specific niche. You can literally do almost anything you’d like, as long as you can complete on-the-job training and qualify for the needed certifications. That’s where an apprenticeship comes in.
What Is an Apprenticeship?
Your apprenticeship will include two main components. The first will be on-the-job training with a qualified mentor. The second component is schooling that teaches the formal and technical skills required by the trade. An apprenticeship allows you to get solid training without going into debt and proves to future employers and customers that you’ve got the qualifications to do the job you say you can do. It’s not necessarily required to pursue a career in construction, but an apprenticeship will open many doors that would otherwise be closed to you, especially if you don’t want to go the university route and get a degree.
Once you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll have a specialty you can move forward with in your career, whether you move toward journeyman and master or get into overseeing construction jobs. There’s nothing wrong with general labor, but a specialty will help you progress much faster toward your ultimate goals. However, as with any career path, once you start specializing, you lose opportunities to go into other trades if you change your mind. So, choose wisely.
There’s always more to learn in the construction field, especially with new innovations like solar energy and smart technology, and continuing inventions in materials and equipment that change the way contractors work. You might not even know what you don’t know! So, at every stage of your training, spend time learning from trade magazines, books, and podcasts, which could introduce you to a new specialty you might want to pursue.
You will also want to do some research on which trades are in demand and available to you. Find out what you could earn with each specialty you’re interested in. Searching popular job sites will show what kinds of apprenticeships are in your area, state, and country. The apprenticeship.gov website also includes a list of high-demand apprenticeship occupations.
Get Some Experience
If you like the idea of learning a trade but haven’t decided which one’s right for you, the first step is to get some experience. If you have no idea where to start, find a job as a general laborer and see what appeals to you most.
If you decide you want to work toward becoming a fully qualified contractor, you’d be well-positioned with a job in framing, masonry, or concrete, which will expose you to many other trades like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. Even if you do hope to eventually be a general contractor who will oversee other tradesmen, it’s a good idea to have the hands-on experience of actually putting up a new building to ensure you know the ins and outs and how all the trades are connected to each other.
If you know you’re interested in a particular specialty, like roofing or drywall, look for an assistant job with a qualified tradesman to make sure you actually enjoy it before you apply for an apprenticeship.
Once you’ve chosen your specialty, you can start looking for apprenticeship programs. This is a huge step in your career, and you should be very proud to get accepted and start your training. We love hearing from you! Are you considering an apprenticeship specialty? Which one(s)? Let us know in the comments!