Why Women Should Enter the Trades!

Once upon a time it was almost unheard of for a woman to be a welder, pipefitter or construction laborer. When women were employed in the trades, they were often given jobs that circumvented the real work of the trades, such as flaggers. That is slowly, but steadily changing.

The number of women in the skilled trades has climbed from 3% in 2010 to almost 10%. With women moving into hands-on positions as well as managerial positions or even owning businesses in the trades. Even so, the trades continue to be a male dominated field, so why should women consider this field?

Three Reasons for Women to Enter the Trades

Reason Number 1: There is a significant shortage of skilled trade workers. With women making up 48% of the labor force, it just doesn’t make sense not to have women working in the trades. For women the case is clear. While trade jobs can be physical and are largely hands-on, the pay is good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average plumber makes $58,000, the average electrician $55,000 and the average welder $41,000. This compares to traditional women-focused careers with similar levels of formal education such as certified nursing assistant, $28,000, childcare worker, $23,000, or retail salesperson, $24,000 (2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/).

Reason Number 2: Trade careers do not require long educational paths. Eighteen months of schooling is a common amount of school for most trade careers, but often individuals can enter trade careers immediately and learn on-the-job or in an apprentice program. While the base salary for an individual learning on-the-job is lower, there are no educational costs. This means a trade person who receives on-the-job training has no student loans or educational costs to pay once the training is over. They get paid to learn!

Reason Number 3: The skilled trade industry is looking to hire women. For some companies there are male to female ratios they must meet so they are looking to hire more women. For other companies they are looking for skill sets that women have. For instance, many in the residential service industry believe women are better at working with their residential customers, who are also often women. Women technicians are less intimidating and don’t cause safety concerns for their female customer base.

Still worried about a career in the trades? Consider joining one of the many associations for women springing up in the trades, such as Women in HAVCR or one of the state or union based female trade organizations.