From trainee to technician and apprentice to master, each of the trades provides their own path to excellence, with increased earning potential along the way. While anyone can join the trades by beginning with a vocational school, they also get to decide the level of expertise they pursue—career progression is limited only by ambition.
Electricians start out as students in apprenticeship programs, attaining up to one thousand hours of training in the classroom, accompanied by on-the-job experience. Most apprenticeships are paid, which immediately offsets the costs of the education itself. Licensing follows, which allows each newly minted electrician to operate in whatever avenue of expertise they choose: commercial, residential, industrial, datacom, linework, and so on.
After a period as a journeyman, the next move is to become a master electrician. This offers increased earning potential and the ability to work independently or take on and train other apprentices. Master electricians may elect to get licensed as an electrical contractor, which will allow them to run an electrical contracting business and even hire other electricians to work for them.
Auto mechanics have a similar potential: choosing whether to be an independent mechanic or a technician working for a dealership is a personal choice that each professional gets to make. ASE Certified Master Techs are particularly appealing to dealerships that insist on stringent standards for their customers, and many manufacturers offer their own training. Mercedes Benz offers their own program14 to entice those looking for specialization in German auto proficiency.
If your goal is to own your own business, CNC machining, welding, auto body/collision, and diesel/industrial are all avenues to consider. These specific skills address needs that are typically underrepresented and create more profitable opportunities for potential business owners. Consider finding a specialized program15 for your career planning and decide what type of mastery you would like to attain.