How to Learn a Trade & Start A Lucrative Career

When planning your career path, you may be stuck with indecision on where to go. You may realize college isn’t a great fit for you personally, but you don’t know how to get started in the trades. It’s easier than you think! The process to learn a trade is straightforward and, depending on the trade that interests you, can allow you to get started today instead of in four years!

If you’re wondering what the best steps are to learn a trade and start your career, and if you are interested in finally walking your own path to comfort, peace, and freedom, then read on!

Start with a High School or Equivalent Education

While not always necessary, almost every job out there will require a high-school equivalent education. Trades are no exception. In fact, finding a trade school that will accept you without a high-school diploma or equivalent will be nearly impossible.

If you’re still in high-school, you have a huge opportunity before you! When choosing electives, find ones that help teach you how to work with your hands. Shop classes aren’t offered at every school, so you may not always have these options. But if you do, don’t squander them! They can help introduce you to new skills that you can build upon for the rest of your career.

For those who don’t have a high-school diploma, every state offers an affordable way to earn your secondary education. While the GED is still the most popular, and typically offered in every state, it’s not the only high-school equivalent degree. Some states offer alternatives like the HiSET or TASC.

Refer to your local state education websites to find out more about what options you have and how to progress down those paths!

That said, it’s not necessarily a requirement. There are jobs out there for those who haven’t had the opportunity to complete high school – though they typically pay less than those that require secondary education.

Vocational Training

Another common stepping stone for those that want to learn a trade is to attend post-secondary education. Working toward an associate degree can be a good middle-ground between a full college experience and going straight into the labor force.

Major universities, community colleges, and accredited trade schools are all viable options for those that want to move into a trade. For many, community college or trade schools make the most sense. The lower expense saves you from the major trap that college debt can be – but they still offer great opportunities to learn a trade and prepare you for the next step in your career.

Look at the trades that interest you and what type of education they require. Some may not need any college at all – while some require an associate degree to apply. Proper planning can save you from going down a path that doesn’t lead you exactly where you want to be!


The concept of apprenticeship is well-known for anyone who’s familiar with trades. They’re also one of the most popular reasons to enter a trade at all: learn the job while you work and earn, being mentored by someone with real experience.

Apprenticeships vary depending on your state and the industries surrounding your preferred trade. Like trade educations, the requirements for these apprenticeships can be extensive or simple – which is why you should investigate the details sooner rather than later!

Registered apprenticeship is part of a federal labor program, which helps connect aspiring job seekers with entrepreneurs in need of employees. Sponsors provide apprentices with educational opportunities through on-the-job training. Most importantly, you get paid while you learn!

Benefits of Jumping into a Trade

Wondering why you’d want to learn a trade versus college? Well, there are a lot of reasons!

#1. Earn While You Learn

Outside of a fortunate few, finding quality internships or relevant jobs to work while you attend a 4-year college is unlikely. Even if you are working, the jobs are typically not related to your ideal career.

When you start an apprenticeship, you spend your time learning a career you’re passionate about while earning a respectable wage. You also get to work alongside a skilled tradesperson who is personally invested in your growth.

#2. Master Practical Skills

Tradespeople work every day on skills that have been, and essentially always will be, necessary. While technology changes, locksmiths, electricians, and plumbers will always be needed to some degree. Likewise, you will at some point always need the expertise of these tradespeople.

When you learn a trade, you learn skills that you can apply in your personal life too. Electricians can fix dangerous wiring in their homes, and plumbers can repair issues that may otherwise cost a fortune.

While every job, from trades to those that require bachelor’s degrees and beyond, are valuable, you may find that the skills you learn in a trade offer you more direct independence when it comes to managing your life.

#3. High Job Market Prospects

You may have heard that it’s tough to find a job out there. Guess what? Almost every trade is practically begging for new talent! Look at some of these in-demand trade jobs to get an idea of your opportunities.

#4. Start Walking the Path to Owning Your Own Business

Few careers offer as much opportunity for starting your own business as careers in the trades. The individuals who mentor you and help you grow started in the same position as you. Through years of experience and hands-on learning, you’ll gain the knowledge and expertise required to not only perform your job but also build your own reputation.

After many years of personal growth and through the self-discipline required to make the leap into entrepreneurship, you’ll be ready to work for yourself. While you may think of that as a new path, it’s actually just a new turn on the path you started when you began learning the trade!

Can You Learn a Trade Later in Life?

Absolutely! The paths you choose in life are always unique to you. For many, that means they don’t necessarily go the same way on the same timeline as the paths your friends or family may take. A surprising amount of Americans find themselves years deep in a career, only to realize it’s not exactly what they wanted out of life!

As long as you’re capable of the physical labor required to do your job, there’s nothing preventing you from changing paths and learning a profitable trade.

Discover the Benefits of a Blue Collar Career

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!