Types of Skilled Trades and Technical Training (With Examples)
Updated September 30, 2022
Skilled trades are roles that require technical training. This training differs from a college education because it focuses on field hours rather than study time. If you're interested in obtaining a career without enrolling in a traditional university program, you may want to learn more about trades.
In this article, we explain what skilled trades and technical training are, list the different types of programs you can complete to earn a job and provide tips for choosing which trade is right for you.
What are skilled trades?
Skilled trades are careers that require experience-based skills and knowledge. These are typically hands-on careers and differ from other professional careers. They rely on apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs to teach entry-level professionals how to succeed in their trade roles. Many professionals who want advanced careers without attending a university may decide to pursue a skilled trade, as these professionals may be able to join the professional workforce at a faster rate than those who choose to complete a college education before entering the workforce.
What is technical training?
Technical training, sometimes referred to as vocational training, is the method in which professionals who pursue skilled trade careers learn about the important skills they need to complete their job duties. This technical training can take place in a short education program, within an on-the-job training program or a mix of both.
Often, these programs involve professionals advancing to different levels of expertise as they gain more skills. For example, one may transition from an apprentice to a journeyman. Technical training often focuses on the development of hard skills and may have a more hands-on approach than typical training and formal education experiences.
Types of technical training programs
There are many different types of technical training programs that can help you start your career as a skilled tradesperson. Here are some different types of training programs you may consider:
Agriculture trades involve the study of farming and natural landmarks to help develop food and conserve the environment. Professionals within this trade may focus on growing and harvesting plants, taking care of animals or leading conservation efforts. Some careers you may receive technical training for within this trade include:
Farm manager: Farm managers oversee the operation and business side of a farm. They schedule planting, arrange for the purchase and use of the equipment and choose which animals and plants to specialize in.
Equipment operator: Equipment operators within agricultural trades manage common farming machinery, such as combines, trailers, sprayers, feeders and tractors. These professionals ensure the safe operation of equipment to help manage farming duties efficiently.
Animal caretaker: Animal caretakers may work on farms to ensure a great quality of life for the animals who live there. These professionals may oversee tasks such as grooming, birthing, feeding and ensuring each animal has adequate shelter.
Conservation technician: A conservation technician manages parks, natural habitats, forests and ranges to protect local wildlife and horticulture. These professionals may assist in planting crops, developing conservation programs and educating the public on nature.
Greenhouse manager: Greenhouse managers handle indoor planting and nursing seeds into sprouts to sell or plant in fields. These professionals work closely with plants and the staff of the greenhouse to ensure each seed grows into a healthy plant by managing an appropriate environment for them to develop.
Precision specialist: In agriculture, a precision specialist helps to integrate new technology and knowledge into classic farming techniques. For example, they may help introduce new planting techniques.
Construction trades often include the study of specific building materials or techniques. These professionals collaborate with others to build structures and renovate buildings. These professionals may also work as repair workers and respond to help requests from property owners. Some construction careers for which you can find technical training programs include:
Mason: A mason is a professional who works with brick, stone and mortar. These professionals may use their skills to construct buildings, pathways and walls.
Carpenter: A carpenter works with different types of woods to create walls, furniture, flooring and other construction elements. These professionals may specialize in a specific product, such as making cabinets or use a more eclectic approach to their work and complete various projects.
Electrician: Electricians manage the wiring, lighting and power of a building. These professionals typically complete this for new buildings during the early construction stage but also perform consultations for clients when they add new electrical appliances in their residences and business spaces.
Plumber: Plumbers manage the water and waste systems within the buildings. This work includes laying and fixing pipes, drains and water lines.
Heating and cooling technician: Heating and cooling technicians install and repair air conditioning units, heaters and other climate control appliances within buildings. These professionals may focus on the repair and installation of the appliances or also secure ventilation within buildings during the early construction process.
Related: 21 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand
Similar to construction trades, professionals who work in the art industry as a tradesperson often focus on using a specific medium or tool for their work. Professionals within this trade are often highly creative and may also run their own businesses to sell their work. Here are some careers for which you may receive technical training:
Painter: A painter can either work in the art or construction industry. In the construction industry, they paint the interior and exterior of buildings, while painters within the art industry may create their own works on canvas and other mediums.
Ceramist: A ceramist creates pottery and other ceramic works by sculpting them out of clay, painting and finishing them in kilns.
Sculptor: Sculptors can work with various materials, including metal, plastic, wood, rock and clay to create statues and figurines. They may create decorations for public spaces and buildings and create custom art pieces for clients.
Photographer: A photographer is a professional who photographs subjects and edits the footage to create a final product that appeals to their clients. These professionals often work at events, such as weddings and concerts, to document the experience.
Tattoo artist: Tattoo artists specialize in illustrating artwork to tattoo onto a client's skin, creating a permanent image with ink. These professionals can offer their own artwork and ideas to clients or follow client requests to create custom art for their bodies.
The technical training for manufacturing trade careers typically involves the introduction to topics regarding the creation of products and the uses of machinery. Some manufacturing careers for which you may find technical training include:
Tool and die maker: These professionals create the precision tools that they can then use to develop other products. These professionals may operate machinery to complete this task and sometimes design the tool themselves.
Machinist: A machinist is a professional who uses blueprints and computer software programs to create parts for heavy machinery. They may also repair existing parts.
Fabricator: Fabricators combine materials such as different types of metals to make new creations and raw supplies for manufacturers.
Transportation trades mainly involve training to drive specialized vehicles and machines, such as trains, planes and buses. Since these professionals operate heavy machinery and are often responsible for the safety of passengers, they receive technical training to help enhance their skills. Here are some transportation trade jobs:
Pilot: A pilot is a professional who operates aircraft and navigates planes to follow pre-determined routes. They may drive passenger planes or operate distribution aircraft.
Bus driver: Bus drivers operate large passenger vehicles to transport them between designated areas. These professionals are responsible for the interior maintenance of the bus, the collection of fares and the safety of their passengers.
Train operator: These professionals operate passenger and freight trains and communicate with other conductors and navigators to ensure safe and timely transportation. they also monitor the train's gauges to recognize any potential issues with the trains' engines.
Heavy equipment technician: These professionals service and repair machinery for manufacturers. These professionals can provide maintenance for various types of machines, including mechanical and structural systems.
Service trade jobs cover a wide range of careers that focus on providing a specific service or product for customers. Some service trade careers that require technical training include:
Hairdresser: Hairdressers cute, style, color and wash their clients' hair according to their requests. Sometimes, hairdressers also learn how to perform certain spa treatments, such as facials and massages.
Baker: Bakers create goods such as cakes, cookies, donuts and other pastries and desserts. Bakers may create goods to order or create bulk products for retail.
Nursing assistant: Nursing assistants help patients with basic daily tasks such as eating and bathing. These professionals may also help patients with ambulatory difficulties exercise or use the bathroom.
Chef: A chef prepares food in restaurants and industrial kitchens for retail. These professionals train in various cuisines and techniques to become more versatile in their style of food preparation.
Tips for choosing a skilled trade
If you're trying to decide which skilled trade career path might be right for you, consider these tips:
Consider your interests
You may be able to choose a skilled trade based on your personal interests. Consider your hobbies to determine if there is a related trade program available. For example, if you enjoy woodworking, a carpentry trades program may be good for you. Finding a career that matches your interest may help you feel more invested in your career, which can help you achieve goals and experience job satisfaction.
Shadow a tradesperson
If there's a particular trade that you're interested in, consider seeking a job shadowing opportunity. This can allow you to follow a tradesperson throughout their workday to gain a better understanding of their job duties and work environment. To find one of these opportunities, you may consider contacting professionals within your professional and personal network to request shadowing a particular professional. if you don't have any trades professionals in your network, you might consider contacting administrators at trades schools, as they may put you in contact with alumni. you can also contact companies that employ trades professionals.
Understand the time commitment
Before choosing a trade, research the requirements that the career involves. This can include the time commitment to becoming a fully licensed professional. This is important as you may have preferences for how long you spend in training. Many trades offer compensation for any fieldwork you perform as an apprentice but some may not, which is another reason why understanding the time commitment is important. Knowing this information can help you plan for earning an income while in training. Some trades have shorter technical training programs than others, so if that's your preference, you might research those careers.
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