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Thread: Skilled Trades

  1. #1
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Default Skilled Trades

    Has anyone been in one? You know, something like construction worker, carpenter, plumber, etc? How did you get in? Really physically demanding?

    I'm sooooooooo confused of where I want to be in the next 5 years. But I'm trying to stick to something coherent. A conversation I had a few weeks ago piqued my interest. I started researching skilled trades that were in "dire" need. I also started researching apprenticeship programs around my area. I found one that isn't too far from me and thought "Hey, as long as I do really well in the math portion and the interview, I might be a candidate for apprenticeship.)

    I understand the job is physically demanding, but strangely enough, I started liking the demanding work (it's like free exercise.)

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rail Tracer View Post
    Has anyone been in one? You know, something like construction worker, carpenter, plumber, etc? How did you get in? Really physically demanding?

    I'm sooooooooo confused of where I want to be in the next 5 years. But I'm trying to stick to something coherent. A conversation I had a few weeks ago piqued my interest. I started researching skilled trades that were in "dire" need. I also started researching apprenticeship programs around my area. I found one that isn't too far from me and thought "Hey, as long as I do really well in the math portion and the interview, I might be a candidate for apprenticeship.)

    I understand the job is physically demanding, but strangely enough, I started liking the demanding work (it's like free exercise.)
    I have never been in skilled trades myself, but can share some of my neighbor's experience. He has been in construction and roofing his entire career, and now is in his 50's. Sure, there is all the technical know-how and "skill", but eventually many of these folks end up working on their own, essentially running their own company. This requires them also to have some business know-how, which they can pick up working with an experienced trade master along with the other stuff. Point being, after being in the business for 20+ years, when you might be finding the physical demands getting a bit burdensome, you may very well have a successful small business with employees who will do this for you, while you line up the jobs, do the purchasing, permitting, and other administrative matters, and go hands-on mainly for the most challenging or tricky jobs. Seems like a decent career for folks like my neighbor who enjoy it and are good at it.

    I'm not sure where you live, but skilled trades are seriously underrated and undervalued in the U.S. If you are interested, you should go for it.
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    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I have never been in skilled trades myself, but can share some of my neighbor's experience. He has been in construction and roofing his entire career, and now is in his 50's. Sure, there is all the technical know-how and "skill", but eventually many of these folks end up working on their own, essentially running their own company. This requires them also to have some business know-how, which they can pick up working with an experienced trade master along with the other stuff. Point being, after being in the business for 20+ years, when you might be finding the physical demands getting a bit burdensome, you may very well have a successful small business with employees who will do this for you, while you line up the jobs, do the purchasing, permitting, and other administrative matters, and go hands-on mainly for the most challenging or tricky jobs. Seems like a decent career for folks like my neighbor who enjoy it and are good at it.

    I'm not sure where you live, but skilled trades are seriously underrated and undervalued in the U.S. If you are interested, you should go for it.
    Yah, I've read that skilled trade jobs across the board in the U.S. are increasing in age and needing younger workers to replace them(even jobs where machines cannot completely replace people are increasing in average age.) I don't know if it is because there isn't enough training going on, or if it is compounded by the fact that people don't want to do them.

    I live in a steadily growing metro area in Northern California (it has been steadily growing for decades now.) Before the housing crisis that followed the financial crisis, there has been a lot of development in the area (it's still going on, but not as rapid as before.) Like, a decade ago, part of the area that I lived in was still mostly grass. Two decades ago, this area was more farmland than it was housing.

    I was thinking more along the lines of Electrician as a trade as there is always a need for an Electrician with each advancement in wiring and machinery(whether residential or industrial.)

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    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    My son is a journeyman electrician with a local power company. He is in his 4th year and does mostly outdoor lines and especially deals with power outages so, travel to surrounding states is frequent year around. He loves it, makes very good money, excellent benefits and retirement through the union. I would say that if you are interested, look around. There are so many skilled trades, probably in areas you have not thought of before. Check the unions in your area, they can certainly point you in the right direction, that is where my son found his job and they did the first 2 years of his training.
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    I come from a long line of distinguished mechanics (seriously, when I entered the trade I was nicknamed 'The Golden Child').

    There is a lot of potential for a proud living, working on cars. You'll be practically everyone in the family's best friend. Employers are typically lax about every aspect of your work. Nearly infinite solitude, and the people shops do attract are delightfully strange. You'll never have to pay someone to keep your stuff going again.

    And the money's really good. My dad cleared 117k this last year.

    I would skip trade school. Every major manufacturer has their own training and certification program. Hire on as a maintainance tech and work what you can from there. Most training is online. Periodic live courses are offered for more technical aspects of auto repair, and the company will pay for travel/expenses. Dealerships are the way to go, or a well reputed independent shop willing to train.
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    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    My son is a journeyman electrician with a local power company. He is in his 4th year and does mostly outdoor lines and especially deals with power outages so, travel to surrounding states is frequent year around. He loves it, makes very good money, excellent benefits and retirement through the union. I would say that if you are interested, look around. There are so many skilled trades, probably in areas you have not thought of before. Check the unions in your area, they can certainly point you in the right direction, that is where my son found his job and they did the first 2 years of his training.
    There is a partnership between LBEW and NECA (both Electrician unions) .........which they have a facility (in my area) that is used to school apprentices while they are also working on the job. It's like a 5 year program if I decide to go this route (they pay you for learning on the job and working.) I gotta submit an application and do an aptitude test though (apparently mostly algebra and reading comprehension.) I don't know how many people apply to these unions though. (I think the two that I mentioned are two of the bigger ones.)

    Quote Originally Posted by sunyata View Post
    I come from a long line of distinguished mechanics (seriously, when I entered the trade I was nicknamed 'The Golden Child').

    There is a lot of potential for a proud living, working on cars. You'll be practically everyone in the family's best friend. Employers are typically lax about every aspect of your work. Nearly infinite solitude, and the people shops do attract are delightfully strange. You'll never have to pay someone to keep your stuff going again.

    And the money's really good. My dad cleared 117k this last year.

    I would skip trade school. Every major manufacturer has their own training and certification program. Hire on as a maintainance tech and work what you can from there. Most training is online. Periodic live courses are offered for more technical aspects of auto repair, and the company will pay for travel/expenses. Dealerships are the way to go, or a well reputed independent shop willing to train.
    Yeah, most school for skilled trades are just there to take your money without a guaranteed proper training for a company or union. So a trade school isn't something that I am looking at.

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rail Tracer View Post
    Yah, I've read that skilled trade jobs across the board in the U.S. are increasing in age and needing younger workers to replace them(even jobs where machines cannot completely replace people are increasing in average age.) I don't know if it is because there isn't enough training going on, or if it is compounded by the fact that people don't want to do them.

    I live in a steadily growing metro area in Northern California (it has been steadily growing for decades now.) Before the housing crisis that followed the financial crisis, there has been a lot of development in the area (it's still going on, but not as rapid as before.) Like, a decade ago, part of the area that I lived in was still mostly grass. Two decades ago, this area was more farmland than it was housing.

    I was thinking more along the lines of Electrician as a trade as there is always a need for an Electrician with each advancement in wiring and machinery(whether residential or industrial.)
    Electrician is a great trade, that leaves you open for other options in future. Yes, there aren't enough younger workers, and the ones there often lack the necessary patience and work ethic. They are not likely to be taking over the business when the boss gets older or wants to retire. If there isn't much training, I suspect that is because there isn't enough demand for it. There is such an emphasis now on everyone going to college -whether it makes sense for them or not. This slights other career options and makes people who might be interested feel like it isn't good enough. Still, recently I have been hearing about an increase in training opportunities, in response to the need for skilled trades plus the unemployment resulting from the economic downturn. One program targeted women in particular, a group especially unlikely to consider skilled trades like these.
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    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Here, in Canada, the government sees such a need for human resources in skilled trades, that it has developed an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant.

    I wonder if there are any such programs there, that you can take advantage of?

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    There are also many intangible benefits that come from the tangible nature of the trades. Checkout this video by philosophy PhD/motorcycle mechanic, Matthew Crawford.



    He goes into detail on the issues he raises in the lecture in his book Shop Class as Soul Craft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.
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    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Im a machinist(only learned manual, not cnc) by profession and have done that for like 5 months altogether, also like 1.5 years of assembling large water pumps and also got to repair(and assembly) some furniture in my last job. Machining is something i hate above all, it gets really boring after a while because its so repetitive and requires next to no thinking compared to amount of work you are doing. And its not really physically demanding other than that you can stand on your feet all day long and roll some wheel, some places you might need to lift something that weights a bit once a while.
    Assembling stuff was better, but that got boring too after a while. That was bit more physically demanding at times(some rotors that had to be put on this thing to put bearings on it and then carefully placed inside the motor weighted like 50 kilos, 10 of those in a row and it starts to feel like working out). But then again some assembly is really light work that you just do on a desk(have done that too a bit and it was boring as hell).
    Fixing and assembling furniture was pretty fun, because it was always different, had to troubleshoot and figure out how to fix them with what i had etc. also it wasnt my main job in that work place, but i just did it because i was the guy who could do it the best.

    I must warn you that if you dont like repetitive work, you might want to look the other way or be really careful what you choose, because most stuff(like 95%+) in physical labour is doing large sets of the same thing(with maybe like few variations depending on what the customer wants) over and over again. But if you happen to find some apprenticeship from for example some wood shop that makes custom stuff, it should be much better than some big factory.

    Also dont go into painting if you dont want to get asthma, and if you do have asthma or dry skin, dont go into carpentry(lots of wood dust involved).

    Ps. im not going to do that kind of work again, but am considering of getting into micro mechanics school or trying to find apprentice work as a jeweler/gold smith.
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