In 2021, the pressure to follow a traditional college to workplace career path is undeniable. While it may be considered the norm, it’s not the right choice for everyone. And many people are discovering the fulfillment and potential of working in skilled trades.
We talked to Mike, a Concrete Coatings Contractor in Florida, who chose skilled trades for his career path. He looked for a career that would challenge him with something new every day, and the construction industry became a natural choice.
His grandfather, a life-long house builder, was a significant influence. As a child, Mike saw how the hard work paid off, both financially and in lifestyle.
Michael first landed a full-time job in 2015 with a “surfacing” company that specializes in rubberized and stone products around pools and other concrete applications.
After three years as a mixer and apprentice finisher, Michael knew enough to be asked to join a team that worked mainly at Disney World and its many surrounding resorts.
Originally Michael had no plans at opening his own operations, but after several years of managing the entire process without a return on investment, the choice became simple.
As a former artist, Michael discovered that the easiest way to stand out was to use detailed designs that others simply did not. These projects required more effort required to complete yet added a personalized touch that customers loved.
Having always been a fitness-minded individual, the challenging labor side of the industry was a strength for Michael at Rhino Coatings. The bags of concrete are 50lbs, and every 5-gallon bucket is between 45/60 lbs.
The hardest part about establishing himself as an expert in the industry was finding qualified people to accept any responsibility in day-to-day operations. Construction companies need a solid work ethic and willingness to learn.
Michael’s advice to others establishing themselves in the construction industry in South Florida is to be prepared. The heat can be especially brutal at times, and people working in the construction industry should fully expect to spend most of their day sweaty and uncomfortable. Once you get past that, everything else becomes easy and, in some cases, fun.
Michael has focused his business and now works in a general contractor capacity for a commercial properties company, which allows him to explore all of the trades in construction and continue learning each day.
“The flag was a gift, a way to say thank you to a military service member who fought in The Gulf War and lost half his lung capacity because of an incident that happened during that time.
The customer didn’t ask for it. However, when I asked for approval, it was, of course, a resounding HELL YES.” – Michael
What Michael discovered is that he not only could live the life he wanted, but he could work a trade that helped someone else out. Like the veteran above. It meant a lot to him because “Thanking a veteran doesn’t have to be a handshake and a simple thank you, thank them with time and with an effort to make their life a little better because that’s precisely what they did for you.”
Today provides us with the opportunity to raise awareness about careers in skilled trades. Our college kids and young adults are on social media more than ever before.
It provides us with the perfect venue to educate them that they have more options than sitting at a desk all day. We can share our stories with them. We can show them what it's like to build something with your hands.
We can show them how satisfying, mentally and financially, a skilled trades career can be.
The American Dream isn't just about having the white picket fence and a nice home. It's about being able to build that fence. It’s about knowing the electrician down the street who can get your lights working. It's about Building America.
We learned more than ever during the pandemic that we need to be more self-reliant. With that realization, more eyes were opened to skilled trades’ roles in our homes and businesses.
With this eye-opening knowledge comes the realization that we have more career choices. We no longer have to listen to the people saying the only way to get ahead is to choose a path that ends in huge debt.
With trade school, the student debt is much more manageable, and for areas where apprenticeship is required, the rewards are greater. You get to train in the services you’ll be offering. You have a stronger guarantee of finding work you actually want.
Becoming self-employed in the Skilled Trades industry can be very lucrative. If you like being able to choose which jobs you take and have the self-control to manage your own schedule, setting up a Skilled Trades Business may be for you.
Just be aware of your personal needs and goals from the start. As a self-employed trades professional, you may find your work more flexible and rewarding without being constrictive. If your business grows to where you're hiring more people and handling a larger client base, your schedule will become less flexible in terms of hours and moving projects around.
For people who love being an entrepreneur, this is a very satisfying career move. Here are some areas you may want to consider for your skilled trades business.
Electricians design, install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring and control systems for homes, buildings, and installations.
Most electricians work in construction. Every building, be it a house or a place of business, needs electricity.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for electricians through 2024 is expected to grow by 14%. This makes becoming an electrician an excellent business opportunity.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average self-employed electrician makes $79,027 a year.
Typically, being an electrician requires some years of apprenticeship and in-school training. There are different levels or types of electricians.
Residential electricians regularly install, maintain, and upgrade electrical equipment inside houses and apartments. They also install outdoor landscape lighting.
Commercial electricians typically install water heaters, commercial security systems, or key electronic systems. They will work in commercial buildings, on construction sites, or mechanical electrical systems.
Journeymen electricians install lighting, mechanical connections, power supplies, security systems, and communications. They will work for both residential and commercial properties and will often train apprentices.
Master electricians are highly skilled supervisors. In many states, you'll need seven years of experience along with other qualifications for this level.
The benefits of choosing to develop your electrical services business are:
The downsides to this career choice are:
This is another area that's expected to see a high growth rate. This area is a strong business opportunity because once HVAC systems are installed, they require regular maintenance.
Most states require certification to open your own business in this industry. This business would require post-secondary education and some on-the-job apprenticeship training.
As a professional in the HVAC industry, you can specialize in residential or business. You can even specialize your service even further, such as fire protection and sprinkling system.
In many situations, you can sell service contracts for the ongoing maintenance of the systems you've installed. This will help you build a steady cash flow stream.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average self-employed HVAC Technician salary is $53,329 per year.
Masons are professionals who use mortared bricks, stone, and concrete to construct walls, patios, and walkways. Some locales require licensing for self-employed mason status.
Almost 25% of brick masons and block masons are self-employed. Masonry is expected to see an 18% job growth over the next decade.
Masons need the following attributes:
You will also need to be happy doing work in all kinds of weather. The risk of injury due to the nature of masonry work is higher.
While a college education is not required to become a mason, it may be worth looking into. It can give you a hands-on look at the profession and likely take around two years to complete.
Typically the training and apprenticeship required for masonry involve technical instruction or a set amount of hours of paid on-the-job training.
In the construction and maintenance arena, independent painters can make a decent living. Currently, over 40% of painters are self-employed.
According to Payscale, the average yearly salary for a self-employed painter is $42,078. If you do a search for people who work as self-employed painters, that amount could potentially be more.
With a painting business, how well you do and how lucrative it becomes is up to how well you work it. It takes less to get into it since most of your legal concerns are about getting your business off the ground versus getting certifications and training.
You also have the ability to start slow so that you need very little in supplies starting out and take on bigger jobs as you raise money to buy bigger equipment, more ladders, sprayers, etc.
We know one individual who started slowly and kept reinvesting in his painting business until it grew to handle big commercial jobs with multiple teams all over the country. He even invested in his own small airfield with a few planes to manage the operations.
Perhaps, you would not build your own business to a corporate level as this man did, but the fact is there. With a professional painting service, you have that choice. You can build this type of business to whatever size you’re happy with.
Carpenters are in short supply right now, and the job growth is going to be substantial in this arena. Once you have experience and training under you, keeping your schedule full in this business is not that difficult.
The income potential with a carpentry business is broad. You can choose to run a small operation, with just yourself as a worker, or you can run teams and build it into a large business.
You can also choose to specialize and charge more for your expertise in that area. Such as only building top-of-the-line kitchen cabinets that can’t be found elsewhere. Or specializing in flooring so that you can charge more than the average carpenter who doesn’t do flooring that often.
Even if you generalize and work in multiple areas, over time, the expertise and reputation you build up allow you to charge more each year. For this reason, self-employed carpenters often are paid more than some other trades professionals.
We wrote this article to benefit you. Maybe you’re looking into leaving your current career to start self-employment, or perhaps you’re looking at options for your kid who’s graduating high school soon.
Or maybe you’re already a trades professional and would like to influence more people to enter your arena in the future.
Use this to get ideas for the future, whether it’s your own or your kid’s future. Or use this information for ideas you can give to someone else.
We need more trades professionals to help build our American Dreams.