4 Core Tips for Blue Collar Career Growth

The best part of working in the trades is the unlimited potential for advancement. There are no other fields out there that so clearly build you from grunt-work to being your own boss. But personal growth takes time and effort. If you’re thinking of starting a career in the trades, read these core career growth tips to help you walk the path you want.

Build Your Personal & Professional Network

Networking is as critical to tradespeople as it is for any other career path. While your personal growth is dependent on developing your own skills and motivations, translating that into work requires networking.

If you start an apprenticeship, you’re in luck! Your mentor will likely have an established network they’ve grown over the years, and you’ll be tapped right into it. Otherwise, you’ll need to make connections as you work with both clients and other tradespeople you interact with often.

These connections do a lot for you! They can:

  • Find you work
  • Find you clients
  • Help you grow your skills
  • Motivate you and keep you grounded

Few, if any, paths exist where you are an island. Take networking seriously. Help others and accept their help when you need it! It’s almost impossible to grow on your own.

Set Goals

Career growth is hard to track. Every day you work or learn, your experience and knowledge grow. But when does that growth turn into real, tangible benefits?

One of the best career growth tips you’ll ever learn is to set goals. Primarily, goals give you key points in your life that help you identify your progress. Without them, you might not realize how far you’ve come when you’re two, five or ten years into your career.

But goals do more for you than track growth – they give you direction. The path you choose won’t be lined with signs and guides. You’ll often make gut-decisions on which fork in the road to take. When you have goals, these forks are much easier to traverse. You’ll be able to look at them objectively:

  • Which paths take me towards my goals?
  • Does this path grow my skills to make my goals easier to achieve?
  • Will I be able to achieve all my goals?

Answering questions like these can narrow the difficulty of making career decisions! And, more importantly, they can prevent you from making missteps that stall your progress towards the things that matter most for your life satisfaction.

Invest in Yourself

One of the most important career growth tips is to value investments in yourself. Personal growth isn’t separate from career growth – you can’t climb the ladder if you never improve!

Technology, in-demand skills and best practices are constantly changing. Take the time to keep pace with them and step outside of your comfort zone from time to time! Find ways to integrate your skills with what you do. If you’re a carpenter, knowing a little about electrical work or plumbing can keep you safe or help you perform higher-quality work.

Most anything you do that improves yourself will translate to improving your job opportunities. Learning new skills will expand what you can offer. You can even take your current knowledge and try to shift into a new field!

Investing in yourself goes further, though. It includes your health, both physical and mental and your free time. Time spent with your hobbies, working out and relaxing are all part of personal growth. Find a balance that lets you grow at your pace. 

Seize Opportunities for Advancement

If there were only one career growth tip to follow, it’s that you must make your own good fortune. Opportunities are everywhere, but they only go to the willing. You can want good things to happen, but others will make them happen and snatch the opportunity before you even realize it was there!

Day-to-day career growth is constant and passive. You do you work and gain personal experience in what you do. But the major steps require you to take a risk and climb out on a shaky limb. They are often riskier or scarier than staying the course.

These opportunities are the ones that will make dramatic changes to your life – and almost always for the better. Even if you fail, you learn – and that experience is a better teacher than most.

Through calculated risks, a few missteps but many more successes, you’ll reach your goals. For many, this means being their own boss. But you can’t do it by waiting for it to happen. Be proactive and create your own good luck.

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Ken Rusk is a blue-collar entrepreneur who has started several successful endeavors and mentored hundreds of young people in their pursuit of a satisfying career and fulfilling life.

Discover how Ken’s approach to life and work can help you set and achieve your goals – all while avoiding the nearly inescapable trap of college debt. Pre-order his new book, Blue Collar Cool: How to Earn Without the College Burn today!