Skilled Trades



    What is a skilled Trade?

    Skilled trades are occupations that require a special skill, knowledge or ability which can be obtained at a college, technical school or through specialized training. Skilled trades provide an alternative to jobs that require four years of college education. While skilled trades can be separated into many areas such as manufacturing, technology, energy, and healthcare, they are generally divided into the following three categories:

    1. Skilled Industrial Trades: welders, machinists, mechanics, tool and die makers, programmers

    2. Skilled Construction Trades: electricians, plumbers, gasfitters, carpenters, bricklayers, technicians, insulators

    3. Skilled Service Trades: nurses, aides, orderlies, therapists, service technicians,

    There is a growing concern within the field of trades that we will soon see a critical shortage of adequately trained and competent skilled workers. As the baby boom generation continues to retire and leave the workforce, a lack of qualified candidates to step into vacant trade positions could severely impact economic growth. Several theories have been offered to explain the 'skilled trades gap.' Some include: mismatch between employee skills and employer needs, stagnant wages, specific technical requirements, a lack of employer sponsored on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs and declining interest in skilled trades careers among graduating students.

    Click Below to Learn More About Opportunities to Fill the Trades Gap 


    Current Demand Within Skilled Trades

    Because of the skilled trades gap and the factors mentioned above, employers are facing increased difficulty in filling positions. This is creating a demand that will only continue to increase over the next several years. 5,900 skilled trades positions will open annually and skilled trades occupations are projected, overall, to grow by 7.4% between now and 2020.

    Here is a partial list of skilled trades positions in demand:



    Work Environment

    Welders may work indoors, often in confined areas or outdoors, sometimes in inclement weather. Occasionally they must lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions. Welding is needed in shipyards, automobile manufacturing, power plants, refineries and bridge construction. Most welders work a 40-hour work week; however, overtime is quite common.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    Welders should have a general knowledge of machines and tools and be able to operate a computer. This position requires an ability to see details at close range. Welders should have good arm and hand coordination in order to manipulate and assemble small objects. Welders need to have proficient skills in math and an understanding of the English language.


    Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist


     Work Environment

    Individuals in this position work in machine shops which are clean, well lit and ventilated. They must wear protective safety glasses and earplugs. Some machinists work in offices that are close to the shop floor.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    Employees in this area should have strong mathematical skills and knowledge of machines, tools, computers and electronics. Customer service skills are very important in this field. Workers should be able to work both independently and as part of a team.


     Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Tool Programmers


    Work Environment

    CNC machine tool programmers perform the majority of their responsibilities in an office environment working with computers and technical drawings. Occasionally they are needed in the shop in order to monitor CNC machining operations.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    CNC Machine Tool Programmers should have a working knowledge of mathematics and machines. A basic knowledge of computers and electronics is necessary. This occupation requires good problem solving skills in order to identify design problems and develop alternative design solutions. A CNC machine tool programmer needs to be able to see details at close range and have strong information ordering skills, as well as be able to arrange items in specific orders or patterns.


    Industrial Machinery Mechanics

    IMM wage

     Work Environment

    Most industrial machinery mechanics work in industrial factory settings. They are often required to work overtime, especially in emergency situations, since disabled equipment is costly to the company. They are required to wear protective equipment including hardhats, safety glasses and safety belts.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    An industrial machinery mechanic should have knowledge of mathematics. They should be comfortable with using machinery and tools and have good reaction timing and manual dexterity. Individuals in this field should be familiar with basic engineering technology and be able to perform equipment maintenance and repairs.


     Tool and Die Makers


    Work Environment

    Individuals in this job field usually work in tool rooms which are quiet, clean and cool environments. Workers must wear protective equipment such as safety glasses. Tool and die makers work 40-hour work weeks, however overtime and weekend work is common. Most employers recommend that workers complete apprenticeship training. Most jobs are found in industries manufacturing metalworking machinery and equipment, metal forgings and stampings, motor vehicles, miscellaneous plastics products and aircraft and parts.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    Workers in this area should have good mathematical and mechanical skills, and the ability to work with and interpret design techniques and tools. Tool and die makers require a high degree of patience and attention to detail. They also need to be able to solve problems independently.