Is Switching to A Trade Career Right for me?
For the new generation, starting a new career in trades can be an easier decision, but for career switchers, taking that same step can be a daunting process. But the good news is, there are opportunities aplenty within the construction and home improvements sectors, making that decision to leave behind a decent salary and great colleagues well worth it.
But even those in a good and stable situation can find themselves looking for something more or something different. Research from the Learning and Work Institute has found that one in three adults want to change jobs, though most believe they lack the skills to make a success of it. This perception will need to change if we’re to have any chance of closing the skills gap in trades and construction.
As a responsible non-profit enterprise, Trade-Up is keen to give you the full facts before making a decision. This helps weigh the risks and rewards objectively, but it will also ensure you have the best shot at lasting success. After all, we want you to have a long-term future in the industry.
To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve prepared some key points for you to consider:
Can you commit?
You get out what you put in. It’s a cliché but one that’s especially relevant for those looking to move into a trade or construction career, simply because it requires plenty of independent study and time out of your comfort zone.
You may be required to think differently and approach problems from a more practical perspective, and like any new job, the first six months will often feel like you’ve taken three steps back to go two forward. You’ll also need to be disciplined and have some humility, because you will make mistakes. Above all, demonstrating commitment is important because you’ll likely be working for someone else at first. They’ll want to know you’re capable and not a risk to their reputation before taking you on.
Do you have the skills?
Maybe it’s an obvious point but it’s worth considering if you’re actually suitable for the role you’re interested in. Heat pump installers offer a good example. Engineers working in this field must be practically minded, good working with their hands and technically adept. But they also need to be analytical in order to make accurate heat loss calculations. Learning in a classroom is one thing but can you apply your new-found knowledge in a ‘real-world’ setting? Head over to our individual trade pages to get a better understanding of the desirable skills needed in your chosen field.
Switching careers does require some financial planning and, for a time, you may have less income than before. It’s advisable to think about the costs in advance and, if possible, put some savings aside before handing in your notice – even just for peace of mind. Learning a new skill is difficult enough without having to worry about the bills. Treat it as an investment you’ll see greater returns on once you start earning.
It’s demanding work
Working safely while lifting heavy items, handling tools and machinery, and working in confined spaces are a daily reality for most tradespeople. Business owners will be relying on you to work effectively, so fitness and flexibility are a must. The same applies if you’re planning to set up your own business – remember time is money and your productivity has a direct impact on the number of customers you can get to each week. Research has shown tradespeople typically burn more calories per hour than a tough session at the gym, so it’s worth considering if you’re ready to take on a more physically demanding workload. That said, many employers do offer reasonable adjustments and people with disabilities are actively encouraged to move into the industry.
Are you organised?
Trade careers tend to have more flexible working hours and plenty of variety to the day-to-day. The opportunity to set up a business is also a big draw for new entrants to the industry, not least because the growth and earning potential is significant. Getting to that point, however, requires a high degree of organisation, good communication skills and effective time management.
It’s not easy coordinating a schedule of customers throughout the week, who can be scattered across a large area, each with their own set of demands. The most successful tradespeople will be as familiar with the fundamentals of good business management as they are with the skill needed to complete jobs to a high standard.