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A Career in Trades Pays off in Spades

Shawn Mitchell employs 42 tradesmen in his three businesses: One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mr. Sparky Electrical. In his 30 years as a contractor, he’s never been more convinced that a career in the trades pays off in spades.

The demand for tradesman has grown exponentially. It was true 15 years ago, and it is true today. Despite the fact that many parents and schools groom kids for a college degree rather than to take up a trade, college is expensive, leaving today’s graduates with a mountain of debt, still trying to figure out what they want to do for a living!

Students’ aptitude for a trade is apparent as young as fifth grade, when they may be routed into either more academic or more practical math tracks. Know this: practical math and engineering courses are every bit as challenging as calculus and favor kids who are naturally adept with the kinds of “smart” technologies that underlie today’s home systems. Older students who are good problem solvers might want to enroll for college credit from courses like Pearson VUE, to investigate careers in plumbing, electrical or HVAC. 

Unlike college, much trade-based education is free because businesses like ours compete to develop young men and women as tradesmen. I've been able to take a student right out of high school and in about two years have them be proficient in HVAC or plumbing, making a pretty good living. By year five, the ones who excel will be making $80,000 a year, without a college loan payment to worry about. I have technicians making more than $150,000 annually, which is better than some doctors make starting out.

Trades also favor people who are lifelong learners, because advances in home systems have never been more rapid. Manufacturers offer training courses on both installation and maintenance because, if they have more knowledgeable installers, they’ll sell more products. At our franchise we have something called the Success Academy, where we encourage employees to work their way up through a series of levels to mastery of their craft. We have a big training room in our office, and encourage everyone to log 140 hours of training annually. We like to say, “We train our folks in our house, not in yours.”

Summer is a great time to start an apprentice program, so if you like working with your hands, want to learn and want a dependable job filled with daily challenges, give us a call.

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