5 reasons why a career in Professional Trades might be for you
These 5 facts about Professional Trades in MI will get your gears grinding.
Michigan’s economy is booming, but there’s trouble ahead: There aren’t enough workers to fill a projected half-million job openings in Professional Trades.
So, you ask, what are Professional Trades? Here are five things you need to know about this exploding field:
1. Professional Trades careers are NOT dirty jobs.
Many Professional Trades are becoming increasingly automated. But there’s still a common misperception that the industry consists mostly of “grunt” labor.
“People underestimate hands-on careers, such as manufacturing, because they think it’s dirty work,” said Stephanie Beckhorn, acting director of the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted). “Positions in this field definitely require some specific experience or training, but many don’t require any more than a certificate or an associate degree.
“If you're good at math, computer schience or prefer troubleshooting, these Professional Trades careers come in many shapes and sizes and may be a perfect fit for you.”
There’s plenty of options, because …
2. There’s no shortage of openings.
In Michigan, there will be an estimated 47,000 openings annually between 2019 and 2026 in the Professional Trades. These include traditional manufacturing and building trades, but also careers such as computer numerical control (CNC) technicians, cardiovascular technologists, information technology and more.
“The Professional Trades cover a wide range of jobs that many people are surprised to find are associated with manufacturing,” said Bill Rayl, president of the Jackson Area Manufacturers Association. “With technology advancements happening all the time, many of these positions need operators with a broad range of skills. Many employers are stepping up their training programs to accommodate this need.”
Which means that …
3. You can get paid to learn.
One of the barriers Ted seeks to remedy is the public’s assumption that apprenticeships are only linked to automotive-related manufacturing.
In fact, now more than ever, a wide range of Michigan employers are on the lookout for young, eager-to-learn apprentices interested in pursuing careers in information technology and computer science, healthcare and high-tech manufacturing, as well as construction and other Professional Trades such as plumbing, electrical and brick masonry.
According to a 2018 statewide survey commissioned by Ted, at least half of Michigan’s high school students, young adults and parents lack knowledge about the value and benefits apprenticeships offer, with only 13% of high school students considering apprenticeships a good career path option.
“Apprenticeships are going to play a big role in filling the jobs of tomorrow,” Beckhorn said. “And the more people know about them, the more they have a potential at widespread acceptance. And there’s no downside – you get paid to learn in a position where you have a guaranteed job at the end. That’s as win-win as it gets.”
Actually, it gets better, because …
4. The learning doesn’t stop when you get hired
Many employers will pay for employees to continue their education and get advanced certificates and degrees. But that’s not out of charity – it’s just good business.
“It makes sense if you think about it,” Beckhorn said. “Employee turnover costs companies more than maintaining an educated, well-equipped workforce. If they pay for their technicians or welders to pursue engineering degrees, then they’re able to make sure they have a solid staff that’s prepared for the long haul.”
And, of course, employees have an incentive to stay because …
5. The money is good … really good.
The median income for a career in Professional Trades in Michigan is a healthy $53,000. And because most of these jobs don’t require advanced degrees, every paycheck stays with you.
“There are Professional Trades employees in their early 20s making just as much money as their peers, but without the student debt,” Beckhorn said. “For many of them, this means buying the car of their dreams and becoming homeowners at an incredibly young age. The future is wide open for them.”
To learn more about the Professional Trades, visit Going PRO.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.