You’ve likely heard someone say something like, “There’s a lot of opportunity in the building trades right now” (there is, by the way!) or, “She works in the building trades.” If you’ve scratched your head wondering what exactly the building trades are, if and how building trades jobs are different from “construction jobs,” or if the trades and the building trades mean the same thing, you’re certainly not alone!
The term “building trades” is broad, yet specific. So, what are the building trades, exactly? Let’s explore!
What Are the Building Trades?
Building trades refer to a group of skilled professionals, often called tradespeople or trades workers, who specialize in the construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings and infrastructure. From homes and schools to bridges and skyscrapers, these tradespeople use their hands, tools, and expertise to build and maintain the structures we use every day.
Within the building trades, there are many different crafts, also called trades, and each requires a unique set of skills. Here are a few examples of the different crafts within the building trades:
- Carpenters: The expert crafters of wood, creating everything from the framework of houses to intricate cabinetry.
- Electrical Workers: They skillfully install, maintain, and repair electrical systems, ensuring that power flows safely and reliably to light up homes, power businesses, and keep essential services running.
- Plumbers: Responsible for all things water-related, plumbers install and maintain piping systems, fixtures, and appliances.
- Masons: They work with brick, stone, and concrete to build and repair walls, walkways, and other structures.
- Roofers: Specializing in roof construction, these experts keep our homes and buildings protected from the elements.
- Painters: Adding color and protection, painters beautify and preserve the surfaces of our structures, on the inside and outside.
- HVAC Technicians: These professionals keep our indoor environments comfortable by installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
And this is just the start of the list! Buildings and infrastructure projects are complex and require the collaboration of many specialized, highly-skilled tradespeople.
How Are the Building Trades Different From Other Trades?
Trades professions are defined as highly-skilled, specialized crafts that are learned through focused training or education programs, such as apprenticeships or trade school programs, but not from a 4-year college or university.
The building trades are a specific category under the larger umbrella of trade professions. The building trades are trades careers, but not all trades careers are in the building trades, even though many people think of the building trades when they hear “the trades.” The trades also include medical technicians, home inspectors, paralegals, dental hygienists, cosmetologists, auto mechanics, paramedics, pilots, and more. What sets the building trades apart is that they work in the construction industry, simple as that!
Are Building Trades Jobs Different Than Construction Jobs?
You’ll often hear the building trades called the construction trades or the skilled trades - those are just different names for the same thing. But it’s important to know that the building trades are careers, not just jobs. Tradespeople are highly-trained and highly-skilled, and spend time studying, learning, and developing their craft. This isn’t a summer job or a temporary gig for them. Their work is honed, and they are true authorities of their craft.
How Do You Get Started With a Career in the Building Trades?
A registered apprenticeship program is the best way to start your career in the building trades. Apprenticeships combine classroom learning with on-the-job training under the guidance of experienced professionals. This blend of education and practical experience is invaluable, providing a solid foundation for a successful career in the trades. Plus, apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn!
The building trades are a vital part of our society, providing the skill and labor needed to construct and maintain the homes where we create memories, the schools where we learn, the offices where we work, and the roads we travel. Their strength, skill, and dedication transform simple materials into the buildings that stand as the backbone of our communities. Next time you walk into a building, remember the many hands that made it possible, each one a crucial piece of the puzzle that is the building trades.
Interested in an exciting and rewarding career in the building trades? Explore the different trades and apprenticeship programs available, and get started today!