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Breaking Into The Trades

Previously we talked about how important encouraging new workers to get involved in the skilled trades industry and how much we depend on the American Worker for our livelihood. At Intermountain Safety Shoe we are proud to be part of the blue collar community in Golden, Colorado Springs, and Denver, and hope to serve you for another 40 years to come. When we started it was not uncommon to see a generational interest in the trades. If your father was a carpenter, chances are he would mentor you in the skills involved to become a carpenter. Somewhere along the way we have distanced ourselves from that sort of mentorship. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but generally if someone wants to pursue a career in the trades, they are pretty much on their own.   

How To Break Through   

Let's say you are a young person that truly would like to make it in the skilled trades industry but you have no idea how to come in as a semi-skilled worker. The first place to look is at community college or trade school. Many do not like to go this route simply because of the cost but make no mistake, a degree will open up doors that you never knew were possible. Many trade schools teach focused classes in one discipline. Say you want to get into welding and metalwork, which can be very profitable. Local community colleges have programs that will allow you to fast track to an associates degree. You generally will be able to only take the classes needed for that particular degree, without messing around with prerequisites and classes like English (Yuck). Of course, no matter where you go to school you will need basic classes like math and a few others in what they call a core competency, particularly if you desire an associates degree. If you do not want to jump through the hoops of core competency, there is always the option to obtain a certificate in your chosen field. Certificates are generally broken up into individual skills and do not necessarily count towards a degree, they do however demonstrate proficiency in a certain area of the trade. For example, a pipe welding certificate is what you would want if you want to work in the oil fields as a pipe welder, which can pay extremely well. To get the certificate you would need to complete a few classes in that particular discipline, the nice thing about certificates is, you can stack them and earn a few different skills in the same time frame. If you have the time however, the best way to break into skilled trades is though a degree program from a trade school or community college.                         

School Not Your Thing?

Of course, school is not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that — there are other ways to join the ranks of the trades. Just be aware that no matter what job you take in the skilled trades fields, there will be mandatory training though the company at regular intervals, unless of course you start your own company. Many trade companies offer what is known as an apprenticeship program. For someone who has a bit of experience this can be an incredible way to learn a trade. In an apprenticeship, you are generally paired up with a mentor and work alongside of that individual until you meet the qualifications to go out on your own. This program is not only beneficial for the protege but it is a great way to pass on traditions and instill a sense of company pride for the teacher. The mentor program is extremely beneficial for the company as the new recruit is taught exactly the way things are done in the organization. Of course, many apprenticeship programs are dependent on getting a degree at some point and many will not take individuals if they are not actively seeking a certificate or a degree. For instance, many electrician contractors will bring on a fairly inexperienced worker and pair them up with a more experienced crew but require that individual to attend classes on the side. The upside to this is that may times the company will pay for the degree or certificate program. This is generally in exchange for a few years of work for the company. One of the most comprehensive degree programs in Colorado is with Wagner Caterpillar. There they take new mechanics, and train them to do things the Caterpillar way. This is important to a company as equipment is becoming more and more specialized, plus the apprenticeship program instills a brand loyalty and increases the chances of the new hire staying with the company long term. These types of programs are a win-win for the company and the apprentice.                                   

Don't Give Up!

If you have run into resistance trying to break into the trade of your choice, don't give up, it will pay off in the long run. With more and more older workers retiring everyday, the ability of service companies to replace quality workers is getting increasingly more difficult. The workforce is not what it once but that is to the benefit of a trained worker. If you look through any of the major job sites online you will see a huge concentration of trades jobs. Professions like electrician, mechanic, plumber, they all command top dollar these days and jobs are plentiful. Companies like Wagner are struggling to find people to meet their needs which is why they rely so heavily on their apprentice program.    

While it may not seem easy to break into the trades industry, it is much easier than you think. In this day and age of the job hunting process being primarily online, some companies like electrical contractors and mechanic shops, still will take a resume if you walk through the door. The most important thing to remember when breaking into the trades is to not give up, there are plenty of jobs out there for someone who wants to work hard and make a difference. At Intermountain Safety Shoe, we will be there for you every step of the way and look forward to being your steel toed boot supplier for years to come. So no matter what trade you choose to pursue, be it ranching, the oil patch, or construction, you will be making a difference and that is what matters at the end of the day. If you need guidance as to what kind of boots you will need for a new job, stop on by our Golden, Colorado Springs, or Denver stores and let us help you thought the process. Let's begin this adventure together!