Do you love to work with your hands, constantly taking things apart and putting them back together?  Are you fascinated with how things work and figuring out how to make those things work better?  Do you like a different set of challenges every day? Working in construction as a skilled trade craftsperson might be a good fit for you.

What you need to know now to prepare for a skilled trades position

As a high school student, English, math and science are very important.  You need to do well in these subjects to be successful in any aspect of the construction industry.  Put in the time now, so it will pay off later.  

Trade or vocational school offers the training you need to succeed.  You can also get your start in the military.  There are several occupational specialities you can train in that will help you secure a position once you are honorably discharged.

How to get started on your path to skilled trades work

Links to multiple trades apprenticeship programs are listed below.  Research national or local programs to learn what you need to do in order to apply or prepare for the next steps.


Rudolph Libbe Group icon-boilers-tanks-pressurevessels

Most large building and manufacturing or industrial plants require boilers, tanks or pressure vessels – the equipment that makes hot or cold water and steam for heating and cooling in a facility.  Once trained, you can fabricate a new industrial boiler, repair or modify an existing tank as well as perform maintenance on these types of equipment.

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rudolph libbe group icon-carpentry

Look around you. Take note of the walls, doorframes and moldings. Skilled carpenters do it all from erecting framework for a building to installing finishing fixtures. Carpenters work from blueprints to measure, mark and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass or drywall. Carpenters typically use hand and power tools, such as chisels, planes, saws, drills and sanders.

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Cement/Concrete Finisher


When you think about concrete and all the many places it is used, you realize it’s the core of many projects. Building foundations, parking lots and structures, curbs, bridges and roads all require concrete work. The main responsibility of cement and concrete finishers is to spread, level and smooth concrete, using rake, shovel, hand or power trowel, hand or power screed and float.


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How can a business or plant function without electricity, phones or internet?  No power means no work.  There is endless need for skilled individuals to perform electrical wiring and repair, install data cabling for connecting equipment and technology to the user, conduct infrared scanning and more.  Training in this field gives you the skills to work in both new construction and renovations.  One day you could be installing lighting fixtures or another day putting in switchgears to connect to a power source.

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HVAC Technician


Controlling the climate in a business, plant or facility is vital to its success and the people who work in it.  HVAC/R technicians service, repair and update the equipment that is required to heat and cool buildings.  As a result, occupants are comfortable in their environment and facilities have increased safety, productivity and efficiency.  When you are a trained technician, you service a wide arrangement of equipment such as boilers, chillers, furnaces, rooftop/package units and building control systems.

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Iron Worker


Structural steel projects require high efficiency, quality and safe installations or they don’t stand for a lifetime. Skilled iron workers take the designed/engineered projects from blueprint to completion for a new building or plant as well as conduct routine steel maintenance or work in emergency situations if a structure has been damaged.

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Construction laborers typically clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards. They also load and unload materials, build scaffolding and alter the land to prepare for construction using jackhammers, backhoes and trench diggers. Many times, laborers act as assistants to other trades.

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Masons are the craftspeople who build interior, exterior and foundation walls working with mortar, brick, blocks, marble, granite and stone among many other materials. The use of these materials results in a long-standing structure. Masons typically use hand tools like trowels, hammers, jointers and line blocks.

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Mechanical Insulator


With process piping, valves, boilers and ductwork, mechanical insulators are needed to install multiple types of insulation and jacketing materials for commercial and industrial new construction facilities to retrofits and ongoing building maintenance.  Mechanical insulation is critical to saving energy, preventing fires and protecting equipment against freezing up and shutting down.

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Millwright/Equipment Setter


During equipment installation, repair or modification, it’s important to eliminate any disruption to the ongoing operations in a medical facility, plant or business.  As a part of a millwright, or special rigging team, you are specially trained to safely conduct lifts, relocate and realign any type of industrial or commercial machinery.

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Sitework is the preliminary labor needed to prepare a job site for construction and development. Operators are responsible for laying the groundwork for a successful project. This ranges from land clearing and excavation to storm water management and paving using bulldozers, loaders, graders and other heavy equipment. This important stage influences the construction schedule from day one.

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Piping is used in buildings and plants to move air, water and steam throughout the facility.  This, along with plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and equipment installation are all part of a mechanical contractor’s capabilities.  These systems are critical for day-to-day work of employees and equipment in any facility.


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