What are ‘The Trades’?

What are ‘The Trades’?



April 14, 2020

Tools to Construct Your Career

Throughout history, hard-working people have built better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. These construction endeavors have always required special knowledge and technical skill. In the past, the knowledge was passed down through families.


Today, people learn the tools of the trade in skilled training programs. Training programs equip students with the knowledge required to perform a highly specialized job. Once they enter the workforce, they have entered “the skilled trades,” or the “craft professions.”

The Trades

What does it mean to work in the trades? A “skilled trade,” is a career that requires a special set of knowledge, but that doesn’t usually require a four-year college degree. Construction workers are skilled tradespeople, just like phlebotomists, dental technicians, and medical assistants.


There are several ways to learn the special skills required by the trades. Options include community college certificates, specialized trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.


You may also hear skilled tradespeople go by the term craft professional. Every professional is characterized by conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. By using craft professional to describe those working in the construction industry, we show the respect deserved by these individuals and the skills and knowledge required in those careers.

Community College Certificate

Unlike a traditional two-to-four year degree, certificate programs prepare a student with the knowledge they will need to work in a specific trade. Maricopa County Community College District offers programs in various construction sciences. Programs range in length from eight months to two years, depending on the program and the student’s pace.


Some of our employers, such as Sundt and Wilson Electric, have formed award-winning training partnerships with community colleges such as Central Arizona College. Others, like McCarthy, Brewer Companies and 3-G Construction have partnered with schools like South Mountain Community College to start new training programs to meet your needs.

Trade School

Prospective craft professionals have the option of attending a trade school instead of a community college. Trade schools are established to teach highly-specialized skills in a particular area. These are good options for individuals who already know which field they would like to enter.


One benefit of trade schools is that they sometimes lead to full time employment. Brewer University is an example of a trade school for plumbers. Upon graduation, students of Brewer University are offered full time employment as plumbers at Brewer.


Skilled trade knowledge has been passed down from master to student for centuries. Apprenticeship programs follow this time-honored model by offering hands-on learning with masters in the craft. Apprentices spend eighty percent of their training working in the field and learning through hands-on experiences.


Usually, apprentices are offered an hourly wage for the work they complete in the field. The training period typically lasts between two to four years, and apprentices leave the program as highly skilled craft professionals. Since companies invest in training apprentices, graduates of apprenticeship programs are usually offered full-time employment with opportunities to advance. HACI, Corbins Electric, and DP Electric are among several BYF Arizona employers that offer apprenticeships. Find more info on them via our Training Directory.

Craft Professional Jobs

The craft professions offer a wide variety of highly respected, high-paying careers. The problem is, these career options are generally not discussed in public school. The first step to constructing a career is to become familiar with the variety of available career options.


By 2022, there will be 155,000 empty jobs in Arizona’s construction sciences.

Click here to browse the full range of opportunities that are available to the next generation of craft professionals.