Trading Up for a Nontraditional Career

There are some great reasons for women to enter non-traditional fields and challenge the status quo. With many skilled tradespeople retiring faster than new workers are being trained to replace them, fields like HVAC, welding, and electrical maintenance need qualified women and men to fill job openings. These careers offer women opportunities to make higher pay than paths like child care and bookkeeping—sometimes even 20 to 30 percent more! As this data shows, women could improve their positions in the workforce in a major way.

Going to a trade school is a great alternative to a traditional education and can help you get into the field and advance in your chosen career path much faster. The cost of traditional college versus trade school is yet another reason to go into the skilled trades: while a college degree usually carries a price tag of $127,000, a trade school certificate can cost just $33,000.

For those who are entering the field later in life, this is also a viable alternative, as 53 percent of skilled trades workers in the country are 45 or older. The trades are also a great platform for starting a business. With self-employed HVAC mechanics at 15 percent, electricians at 11 percent, and welders at 7 percent, women entering these fields may find excellent entrepreneurial opportunities.

Unfortunately, women are underrepresented in many skilled trade industries: for example, only 3 percent of welders in the U.S. are women. Hopefully, as demand for skilled tradespeople continues to increase, more women will enter these promising fields. Check out the graphic below to learn more about women in the skilled trades.