Skilled Trade Careers


Skilled tradespeople in the construction industry are creative individuals. They like to work with both their minds and their hands. They enjoy physical activity and working with a variety of tools. They get great satisfaction from being able to see their finished products each time they drive by a building they helped to construct.

Look around you … wherever you are … see how the skilled tradespeople of the construction industry have shaped your surroundings. They have constructed your streets and sidewalks, bridges and dams, your home and school, the movie theaters and shopping malls, offices and factories. Without skilled tradespeople we wouldn’t have many of the things that make our lives easier and more enjoyable.

Men and women in the skilled trades are commonly called “journeymen”. They need academic knowledge as well as technical skills. Journeymen usually learn their trade through a process called apprenticeship. Apprentices are required to take technical courses at the post-secondary level, in programs that last three to five years. They also receive specific, on-the-job training under the supervision of journeymen.

Skilled tradespeople in the construction industry start their work by using science and mathematics to make detailed measurements. They must be able to read blueprints, sketches and technical manuals. Good communication skills are important, too. Journeymen must be able to follow oral and written instructions and to express their ideas to others.

Apprentices earn great money and full fringe benefits even while they are still learning and generally don’t pay tuition. When they reach journeyman status, they don’t have the burden of student loans to repay and can earn more than the average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

The construction industry provides limitless opportunities for exciting, challenging and demanding careers. In the Washtenaw County area these opportunities are growing – there are 73% more construction industry jobs here today than in 1991. The industry’s highly skilled men and women are valuable members of our society. They, and their careers, will continue to be important in the future. While other careers will become outdated due to societal or technological changes, construction of buildings will always continue!


Think about the REWARDS of a skilled trades career in the construction industry: more…


Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with related classroom instruction more…


  • Carpenter
    Carpenters work with wood, wood products, metal and other building materials. They build frames, floors, walls and ceilings for both …
  • Electrician
    Electricians in the construction industry install electrical systems in houses, office buildings and commercial facilities. They may also wire electrical …
  • Plumber
    Plumber / Pipefitter
    Men and women in this trade work with water, steam and air. Plumbers install or repair pipe systems in commercial …
  • Trowel Trade
    Bricklayer / Trowel Trades
    The trowel trades are the family of crafts that have in common their most basic tool – the trowel. Examples …
  • Painter
    Painters apply paint, stain, varnish and other finishes to buildings and other structures. They choose the right paint or finish …
  • Iron Worker
    Iron Worker
    Structural iron workers assemble, erect and install fabricated iron sections. Reinforcing iron workers fabricate and place steel bars in concrete …
  • Operating Engineer
    Operating Engineer
    Operating engineers operate and maintain hoisting and portable construction equipment, including bulldozers, scrapers, excavators, graders, loaders and cranes. With this …

Other Opportunities

Boilermaker: Constructs and maintains utility, chemical and automotive plants; refineries; paper and steel manufacturing facilities; ore processing and mine plants.

Glazier: Installs glass and aluminum windows, curtain walls, shower doors, mirrors, room dividers, security glazing and other glass products.

Insulation/Asbestos Worker: Applys insulation, wraps pipes and tanks for heat, frost and condensation in industrial settings; removes asbestos insulation.

Laborer: Installs sewer and water mains, excavates tunnels and shafts, demolition, highway work, environmental remediation, provides support for the work of many other trades.

Millwright: Installs or moves heavy equipment or machinery, assembles or repairs conveyor systems in manufacturing plants.

Roofer: Installs, removes and replaces roofs, using tar or asphalt and gravel, rubber, thermoplastic and metal; as well as shingles of all types.

Sheet Metal Worker: Designs, installs and services heating, ventilating, air conditioning systems and pollution control duct systems, including complex computerized HVAC system controls; fabricates and installs other building parts and products made from metal sheets.

Sprinkler Fitter: Installs fire suppression systems of all types, wet and dry.

Tile Setter: Installs ceramic and other types of tile.