How to Pick the Best Path into the Trades for You

Eric Pesch
Eric Pesch
How to Pick the Best Path into the Trades for You

When we are little, we often talk about what we want to be when we grow up.

Children fantasize about being ballet dancers, actors, rock stars and even the President of the United States.

Time goes by and in a flash, answering this question becomes a life decision that faces many high school students. The first step will be deciding on a path for continuing education.

While college is a common choice, many students are picking trade schools over colleges. This is because a trade school is a relatively inexpensive option that is less time consuming and more focused than college. In many cases, the courses are more interesting to students as well.

If you have determined that trade school is the way to go, the next step will be deciding which trade will be best for you. Here are some things you will want to consider.

Choose a Trade That Interests You

You may be young, but you need to consider that the trade you choose may be a huge part of what you do every day for the rest of your life. Therefore, you should go with something that you are passionate about and that makes you happy. Research has shown that finding a rewarding career path is more important to most workers than the amount of money they are making.

Think of Your Skills

Everyone has things they are naturally good at. Some of us are good with our hands. Some of us are great at coming up with out of the box ideas. Some of us can sell sand in a desert.

If you pursue a job you are good at, you will be more likely to be hired and you will be happier in your position. While skills can be developed over time, it’s always best to pursue something you already have a natural talent for doing.

Consider Taking a Career Finder Test

There are many tests that you can take online that will assess your skills and passions and come up with careers that maybe right for you. You need to be careful as some of these tests are incomplete and do not ask for the information necessary to provide you with an adequate assessment. However, if you take a test provided by a reliable source, it may surprise you by coming up with career suggestions you never considered.

Keep an Eye on Finances

Even though personal fulfillment may be a priority for most workers, you want to make sure the trade you choose will make for a financially wise decision. Not only should you determine your money making potential, you should make sure that your trade is in demand in the area you live in. If you think you will have to relocate to find more career opportunities, decide if this is a viable option.

Think of What Your Education Will Entail

Before deciding on a career, think of what it will take to become qualified in your field. How much schooling will you need? How much testing? What materials will you need for your education? How much will your education cost?

Make sure that you have what it takes to go through the educational process. This may seem like a very small part of your decision, but many students drop out of school before completing it which can be a considerable waste of time and money.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Next, think of what your job will entail on a day to day basis. Many people focus on the big picture and don’t think of the smaller responsibilities that are involved, but this can make all the difference as you progress in your job field.

For instance, if your job involves a lot of driving, this can be problematic if you hate driving. If customer service is a major part of your career, make sure you are a ‘people person’.

Think of Flexibility

Many people change career paths down the line. This could be because the job they are doing is no longer in demand, or they may simply decide that want to pursue another opportunity.

Some trades will provide a wide range of career options so that you don’t have to pursue another degree or certification if you decide to change paths. In general, the more specialized the skills required for a job, the narrower the opportunities will be.

Talk to Other Professionals

If you are narrowing down your career options, it’s a good idea to talk to others who are currently working in the fields you are thinking of pursuing. Ask them what their jobs are like on a day to day basis.

Ask them what their education was like and how difficult it was for them to find a job and become established. Find out if they are financially and mentally satisfied with their positions.

This will give you real insight into what it will be like if you decide to pursue this career.

Apprentice and Intern

The best way to determine if a career is right for you is to actually try it out for yourself. There are many colleges that offer pre-apprenticeship programs that give students the opportunity to try out different trades before committing to their area of study.

If you have a friend or relative that works in the industry you are thinking of pursuing, offer to shadow them for the day. This is a win-win situation as you will be learning more about your potential career while offering them free labor.

Finding the right career is a major decision that can be difficult for many high school students to make. But by considering positions that suit your skills, interests and financial needs, you will be able to find a trade that is right for you. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

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