What are Skilled Trades & Other FAQ’s

Get Started Today

Learn more about the hands-on training at New Castle School of Trades!

There is a misconception among many young people today that the only path to a successful career is through traditional college. This has left us with many of the following people:

  • They have degrees but no idea what to do with them and they offer no obvious employment opportunities.
  • They wash up into dead-end jobs with no real room for advancement
  • They find their way into a trade by accident or luck and actually learn some skills, make money and advance their career

The overemphasis placed on the college route has blinded many young people to a real career in the skilled trades.

Since you are here then you must at least understand that skilled trades exist, but you probably have questions. Here we have made a list of all the relevant questions we could come up with or have been asked in the past. As we receive new requests for information we post the questions here.

Trade School Frequently Asked Questions

What is a skilled trade?

Can you really make money as a tradesman?

What kind of hours do tradesman work?

What are some types of skilled trades?

How do I get started in the skilled trades?

Is there a good demand for skilled tradesmen?

Are the skilled trades the same as manual trades?

Does work in a skilled trade mean a real career?

How does trade school work?

What are the advantages of trade school?

How long does trade school take?

What is the difference between college and tech school?

How much does career training cost?

How do you apply to a trade school?

What is a skilled trade?

The term skilled trades encompasses career paths that require manual work but are far above the level of simple labor or a construction job.

Examples that come to mind are:

  • Electrician
  • Pipe Fitter
  • Plumber
  • Mechanic
  • Machinist
  • Framer
  • Carpenter
  • Cabinet Maker
  • HVAC Technician

There are many more, including specialties within the fairly large, umbrella categories just listed.

These are not career options for “dumb people”. To be able to legally and successfully practice a trade you must have real training and certifications. In a skilled trade, you use your mind just as much as your hands. You have to understand essential processes and think your way through problems just as you would with any college type of job.

Working as a skilled tradesman is an excellent career path and is wonderful for those who enjoy a hands-on approach to work and life.

Can you really make money as a tradesman?

Yes, you can. While wages will vary widely depending on trade, region, experience and other factors, you can make a good living as a tradesman.

A journeyman in many trades can expect to make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year which is more than respectable.

One advantage is that many tradesmen work at an hourly rate instead of being paid a set salary. This means if you exceed 40 hours in a single work week you will be compensated for every hour. Many positions offer “time and a half” for overtime. This means that for every hour more than 40, you will be paid your standard hourly rate plus half of that rate.

Example: Your hourly wage is $16 per hour. Half of 16 is 8. 16+8=24. So your time and a half wage is $24 -per-hour. Not bad.

What kind of hours do tradesmen work?

As with all things, this will vary depending on the trade, your employer and other factors. But there are some broad similarities among tradesmen.

They tend to start work earlier in the morning, which means they get off earlier in the day. For example, 6 am to 2 pm is a fairly standard schedule for many in the construction trades. While early mornings can be tough, these hours help you avoid unpleasant things such as heavy traffic and hot afternoons in the summer.

One thing that can be seen a drawback is that if a project is behind schedule or is a rush job, workers are expected to step up and work whatever hours it takes to get the job done. In a really busy construction company it might not be uncommon for workers to exceed 50 or even 60 hours in a week. While this can be difficult at times, it is not constant and you are well compensated for your extra time and effort.

What are some types of skilled trades?

This is an incomplete list of the many skilled trades out there with some of the specialties within each broader category listed as well.


  • Low voltage specialty (security, fire alarms, automation, etc.)
  • High voltage (high power linemen, heavy industrial plants)
  • Commercial (large commercial building projects and properties)
  • Residential (homes, apartments, condominiums)


  • Framer (rough carpentry, building frameworks for buildings, homes, etc.)
  • Finish carpenter (trim work, door and window work, floors, and more)
  • Cabinet maker
  • Interior remodeling (kitchens, bathrooms, etc.)


  • Manual machinist
  • CNC operator


  • Wastewater
  • Gas fitter


  • Asphalt
  • Metal
  • Slate
  • Cedar shake

How do I get started in the skilled trades?

You have more than one option here. Check out our page on How to Become a Tradesman for detailed information.

Is there a good demand for skilled tradesmen?

Generally speaking, yes, there is. The economies of different states and regions in the US will always fluctuate and there will sometimes be more demand in one area than another, but that is the same with any job.

There is always a demand for hard working skilled tradesmen, both because they are necessary and there is never a shortage of unskilled or less motivated individuals that simply cannot perform the work of someone who has mastered their trade.

Buildings will always be constructed, repair will always be required, engines will never cease to break down and the world will always need tradesmen.

Contact some of your local trade associations or businesses for detailed information about your area. Explain to them who you are and why you are calling. Chances are they’ll be happy to help you out. Tradesmen look out for each other.

Are the skilled trades the same as manual trades?

Yes, they are!

Does work in a skilled trade mean a real career?

It sure does. You begin in an entry-level position and work your way through tests and certifications until you are a qualified and licensed professional.

Along the way, just as in any job, the boss will be on the lookout for initiative, work ethic, skill and ability. These things can put you in a management position just as surely as in any other career.

How does trade school work?

Trade school is a lot like college, the only difference is what you learn. If you went to college to learn chemistry you would have regular classroom lecture time and also time working with elements in a lab setting.

Trade school does the same thing. You learn theory and information in the classroom and then practice application in the lab. Only your lab has engines, hammers, saws and milling machines, which, let’s face it, are a lot cooler than beakers and Bunsen burners.

What are advantages of trade school?

Check out our Trade School Benefits page.

How long does trade school take?

That will depend on the program you enroll in and can be anything from a few months to several years, which is still far less than college. If you know what you are interested in learning, check out our Programs page for more detailed information.

How do trade schools differ from other colleges?

The biggest difference between trade schools and other colleges is the amount of time students must spend completing their education. Most trade school programs only offer certification or specialized AST degrees that students can complete in about one year, while students who attend other colleges often take a minimum of four years to complete their education.

How much does it cost to attend trade school?

Job training cost will vary according to the trade school you choose to attend and the program you decide to enroll in. It is a good idea to verify all costs with your school before classes begin.

Most schools have some form of financial aid available for students who qualify and who are unable to pay for their education out-of-pocket. This financial aid usually consists of grants, which students do not have to pay back, and loans, which do need to be paid back.

When possible, it is always good idea to save your money to pay for classes each semester. This practice will allow you to graduate debt-free with no loans to worry about paying back.

How can I apply to trade school?

The admissions process for trade schools depends upon the school. Some schools may require more information from you as a student to complete the application process, including requests that you submit additional paperwork with your application.

It is important to note that the majority of vocational tech schools will require you to provide proof that you have received your high school diploma or GED before applying. There are very few programs that accept individuals not meeting this qualification.

For your peace of mind, contact each school’s admissions office for specific information about its application process.  To join once of the top trade schools in the Pennsylvania and Ohio area, check our New Castle School of Trades application page.

Contact NCST Today!

To get answers to all of your questions and hands-on training for skilled-trade careers, contact our admissions representative today at (800) 837-8299. You can also select a button below for more information online.

New Castle School of Trades has been helping students in Pennsylvania and Ohio get the training they need to begin the career they want. Real people. Real careers. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!

Go from What Are Skilled Trades & Other FAQs to the NCST Homepage