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The Trades

Plumber smiling


Median pay: $38,800 yr.

Plumbers are to thank for all the intricate pipe systems that transport steam, gas, water, waste and other materials. They are also responsible for both building and keeping these complex systems in working order.

Successful plumbers regularly have great problem-solving and math skills. A tolerance for small cramped spaces and natural manual dexterity are great skills to have when considering a career in plumbing. High mechanical ability and flexible schedules are great attributes to the plumber’s trade. A career in plumbing allows for the freedom of self-employment, along with the benefits of working full-time and earning over-time compensation.

Electrician wiring a home


Median pay: $42,500 yr.

Electricians are the tradesmen responsible for installing and maintaining the electrical systems that power America’s factories, businesses and homes. Although electricians tend to focus on either maintenance or new construction they’re aptly skilled in both. The electricians that specialize in maintenance are charged with fixing and upgrading existing electrical systems as well as repairing electrical equipment using the tools of their trade.

Along with the skill of reading the technical diagrams that show the locations of outlets, panel boards, circuits, and other equipment, electricians should possess natural manual dexterity, balance, and good eye hand coordination.

Carpenter smiling


Median pay: $31,900 yr.

A carpenter uses his or her craftsman skills to mold and form wood, and other materials, to construct and maintain buildings and other structures. Carpenters are able to interpret blueprints, calculate dimensions, measure accurately, estimate materials properly, and are efficient in both written and oral communication.

Carpenters may also do things like construct wooden forms for pouring concrete and must have the ability to interpret both specification books and the important schematics provided by architects or manufacturers. The use of traditional craft tools, lasers, optical equipment, welding and rigging may also be needed.

HVACR mechanic testing AC unit

HVACR Mechanics:

Median pay: $35,950 yr.

The demand for HVAC technicians is growing quickly. HVAC technicians are trained to set up, maintain and repair the heating and air-conditioning systems that control temperature, humidity, and air quality in most buildings and personal dwellings. Some HVAC techs choose to specialize in a single area, such as air-conditioning, heating, or refrigeration.

From installing the machines and ducts responsible for delivering warm or cool airflow through buildings to maintaining those essential systems, HVAC professionals allow for everyone else to go about their day—comfortably.

Boilermaker fabricating pipes


Median pay: $48,500 yr.

A boilermaker is anyone who works in the boiler construction or repair trade. The number of jobs in the boilermaker industry is projected to grow by 4% from now to 2022. Because boilermakers assemble, install, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases, mechanically inclined workers with welding experience will have the best employment opportunities.

Sound easy enough? Don’t be deceived. Boiler making isn’t for the faint of heart! These tradesmen face danger daily while skillfully fabricating the vessels made from steel plates and sections that house hundreds of types of products.



Median pay: $34,400 yr.

Are you ready for hot job in metal? Then perhaps you should choose a career in welding.

Welding is the process of joining two metal pieces or parts together by heating the surface to the point of melting and uniting them by hammering, pressing, etc. It’s a trade that allows for work within a variety of other trades, such as pipefitting, boiler making, and sheet metal working. Welding is also necessary in construction of buildings, bridges and other metal-framed structures.

By using their attention to detail, keen knowledge and training, welders are skilled tradesmen that have what it takes determine the best way to ‘join the parts’. Strength, dexterity, good vision, and stamina are just a few of the physical attributes needed for a successful career in welding.

Sheet metal worker installing duct work

Sheet Metal Workers

Median pay: $33,700 yr.

Sheet metal workers perform a variety of jobs involving sheet metal. They also fabricate, install and maintain heating and air-conditioning systems, construct appliances, heaters and boilers, and perform a variety of other jobs involving the use of sheet metal.

Along with the testing, adjusting, and balancing of specific mechanical systems, sheet metal workers are trained for projects including: ventilation, air conditioning and heating (hvac), indoor air quality, repairs and service. Sheet metal is also used for rain gutters, siding, metal roofing, and duct systems. Sheet metal workers also assist in the development of many products that are made from metal like: outdoor signs, handrails, restaurant equipment, automobiles, etc.

Plumber smiling

Insulation Worker

Median pay: $26,400 yr.

Whether you reside in a northern or southern climate, it’s insulation workers that hold the awesome power to make your life bearable.

Generally, insulation workers labor indoors within residential and industrial settings—spending most of their workday standing, bending, or kneeling, in confined spaces. Reading blueprints, taking measurements and installing barriers are just some of the duties insulation workers perform. Without them, who would install and replace the materials used to control and maintain the comfortable temperatures in buildings?

Insulation workers typically fall into two categories. Mechanical insulators are tradesmen who routinely work on the pipes in factories and businesses. Floor, wall, and ceiling insulation workers are the tradesmen who install insulation material in the walls, floors, and attics of commercial buildings and homes and are generally not required to obtain a formal education.

Painter painting house trim


Median pay: $39,000 yr.

Painters are primarily responsible for prepping surfaces to be painted, using tape and other protective devices on surfaces not to be painted, and then cleaning up after the paints application. Other skills a professional painter might possess are: creating an accent wall, gilding, refinishing/finishing furniture, and sign writing.

Professional painters should have a strong knowledge of the specific techniques and tools of the trade. Currently many painters are attempting to break into the field of faux painting. This technique allows for both creativity and access to a higher end customer base.

Glazers installing a window


Median pay: $32,000 yr.

Glaziers are the craftsmen that install windows, skylights, and other glass products in storefronts and buildings. Glaziers typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn their trade through an apprenticeship.

By reading and interpreting the specifications and blueprints that determine the size, shape, type, color, and thickness of glass, Glaziers execute the precision needed for each job. They are also responsible for cutting, fitting, installing, repairing, and replacing glass or glass substitutes, like plastic or aluminum, in building interiors, exteriors, or in other products.

In addition to all the specific qualifications listed, glaziers are also trained to know how to execute the instillation procedures, stage and determine what scaffolding materials are required for each job.

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