What Kinds of Trades & Careers Specializations Are Available?

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According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two of the fastest growing occupations in the next decade will be in the skilled trades: solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine technicians.

And even a field like machining, which is not expected to have significant growth in the next decade, will still have a strong employment outlook as older workers reach retirement.

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These are just a few examples of the variety of specializations that you could choose in the Trades and Careers. What they all – from blue-collar to new-collar careers – have in common is the potential to start a great career with just a small investment in your education.

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Let’s take a look at a few of the major areas of specialization in the Trades and Careers!


Today’s automotive technicians are far from the stereotypical “grease monkeys” of the past. With the increasing use of computer technology in new cars, auto technicians master both mechanical and information technology skills.

An automotive technician can work in a maintenance shop, in collision and repair, or in an automotive dealership’s service department.

For dealership service technicians in particular, job prospects are very good. Many automotive brands, like GM, Toyota, and Ford, recruit new technicians from special brand-focused training programs. In one of these programs, your curriculum was developed with the manufacturer to ensure that you learn the right skills.

If you participate in one of these programs, you’re almost guaranteed a job. For example, most students in Honda’s training program are hired to work in dealership service departments before they’ve even graduated! These jobs typically offer regular working hours, benefits, and higher salaries. According to the BLS, automotive maintenance technicians who work in dealerships have the highest median salary, at $42,680. And the highest earners in the field can make even more!


The construction field includes trades like carpentry, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Construction trades are rebounding today, after taking a hit in the great recession. In fact, the BLS projects that demand for workers like plumbers and HVAC technicians will rise much faster than average, with growth of around 15 percent in both fields.

If you like working with tools and technology in a variety of environments, construction might be a great area of specialization for you.

Plumbers and pipefitters, for example, install and repair pipes in businesses and homes. They do extremely physical work, involving lifting and climbing, and they have to perform tasks that take them outdoors or into small spaces.

To get into a career in plumbing and pipefitting, the most common routes are technical schools and apprenticeship programs. While the median salary in this career is $51,450, the most skilled workers can earn almost double that – around $90,500!

New Collar Careers

A term coined by IBM CEO Ginni Rometti, “new-collar” is a term that describes technical jobs that require specialized training, but not necessarily a four-year degree.

Examples of new-collar job titles include cloud computing technicians, services delivery specialists, and even aviation maintenance for major airlines.

According to a report by NBC News, salaries for aviation maintenance technicians (AMT) start at $50,000. After several years of work, though, AMTs can make more than $100,000 per year!

If you want to get into this highly skilled career, there are a few educational options. Many AMTs learn their trade through on-the-job training or military service. You can also get your foot in the door by enrolling in an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school.

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