Apply Now
Skilled trade worker

Three skilled trade careers that are in-demand now.

Welding. Installing and maintaining electrical equipment. Setting up indoor heating and air conditioning systems. These are all tasks that must be completed by skilled trade workers, for their proper completion is of fairly high importance.

Skilled trades are seldom listed among the popular career choices for graduating high school seniors. However, there are many opportunities open now and into the future for aspiring skilled trade workers, due in part to the aging baby boomer population in those fields.

What are some of these skilled trades, you might be asking? In this post, we’ll take a peak into three skilled trade industries you can potentially enter with a vocational school education.


Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (otherwise know as HVAC-R) technicians install, maintain and repair systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings. The proper function of these systems is important because they have a direct impact on the capabilities of any given building.

HVAC-R technicians work in a wide variety of settings. Such settings might include:

  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Factories
  • Office Buildings
  • Hospitals

Given that HVAC-R technicians service just about any building that has heating and cooling, you might guess that there is a consistent demand for technicians. You would be right about that. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of HVAC-R mechanics and installers will increase by 14 percent through 2024, compared to 2014. The BLS attributes this growth to the continuing growth of commercial and residential construction.

The anticipated growth of HVAC-R technician employment is much greater compared to the total of all occupations. Job prospects are expected to be greater for aspiring HVACR technicians who have completed accredited technical and trade school programs or apprenticeships.

Speaking of technical and trade school education programs, they offer students a foundation on which to build in their apprenticeships. As the BLS points out, an increasing number of vocational schools and community colleges are offering HVAC-R programs. Students can typically earn a certificate or associate’s degree in anywhere between six months and two years, allowing them to enter the workforce fairly quickly.

Alternatively, some individuals who seek to enter the HVAC-R field do so by completing apprenticeships that last between two and five years. Apprentices learn the skills necessary to perform the necessary functions from professional HVAC-R technicians.

As with the job outlook, the money HVAC-R technicians earn is better than the median of all total jobs in the United States. According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), the median salary for HVAC-R mechanics and installers was $45,110 in May 2015. The median salary of HVAC-R is greater than that of construction laborers, which was $31,910 at the same time. Apprentices generally start out making about half of what professional HVAC-R technicians make. However, apprentices typically earn pay increases as they gain competence in performing more and more tasks.


Welders are responsible for fusing metal with other metal. They do this by utilizing equipment that is either handheld or remote-controlled. There is more to a welder’s job than the actual welding, as they are also expected to do things such as calculate welding dimensions, ignite their torches and monitor the welding process.

Though there are different methods of welding, it is worth noting that arc welding is the most common type of welding used today. Arc welding is a process in which welders create molecular bonds between two metals by heating them with electrical currents. This technique and others are skills that students typically learn in welding programs at trade and vocational schools.

In many cases, aspiring welders only need a high school diploma to qualify for a postsecondary welding education program. Following the completion of a trade school program, welders seek to enter the workforce, where they will receive months of paid on-the-job training to further hone their skills.

Once welders have mastered their craft under the supervision of experienced journeymen in the profession, they have opportunities for certification in different welding specializations. There are nine such certification categories offered by The American Welding Society. Certification helps increase the welder’s marketability and can help secure more lucrative employment.

Similar to HVAC-R technicians, employment in the profession of welding is also expected to increase in the coming years. O*NET projections predict that the employment of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers to grow anywhere between two and four percent through 2024, relative to 2014. As the infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) of the United States continues to age, welders will play an integral role in reparations all across the country.

As of May 2015, the median pay for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers was $38,150, according to O*NET. Welders who were employed by specialty trade contractors earned the highest median salaries.


We all depend on electricity in one way or another. It is worth noting that the electrical circuitry and appliances most of us take for granted need to be installed and properly maintained. The people who perform these vital duties are electricians.

They work in many different settings, including in residential and office buildings, providing people with access to electricity. If you are looking for a rewarding and lucrative career you can begin in as soon as nine months, becoming an electrician is a great choice.

Electricians perform a wide variety of tasks related to electrical equipment. Among the duties electricians fulfill are repairing and maintaining electrical systems, not to mention installing electrical wires and fixtures. Electricians who are proficient in customer service are more frequently sought-out, as it is also an important part of the job.

Many electricians also specialize in a specific kind of electrical work. Some of these specializations include:

  • Residential electrician
  • Fire, life and safety technician
  • Voice data video technician
  • Non-residential lighting technician

Each of these specializations usually requires additional work experience and technical training, depend on the state in which the electrician or apprentice is employed.

The majority of professional electricians work in the electrical and other wiring installation contractors industry. This means they agree on a contract for any given job before they complete it, often times finding work with a contracting agency. Around 10 percent of electricians are self-employed.

Many students seeking to become electricians enroll in an electrician program at a technical school. Though it is not required, a trade school electrician education provides a solid foundation for beginning an apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is paid on-the-job training entry-level electricians must complete prior to performing full electrician services on their own and usually last between four and five years. The hours spent at a trade school can often be applied to one’s apprenticeship hours.

According to the BLS, apprentice electricians must complete “at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 of paid on-the-job training” every year of the apprenticeship. Classroom hours from a technical college can sometimes be applied to one’s apprenticeship hours.

Certification exams differ depending on the candidate’s specialization and the state in which they work, as put in place by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Similar to the growth of HVAC-R employment, employment of electricians in the United States is projected to increase 14 percent by 2024, relative to 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS attributes this projected growth not only to the electrical needs of homes and businesses, but also to increased implementation of alternative power sources. Wind turbines and solar panels require electricians to connect them to homes and power grids.

Not only do electricians have promising job prospects in the coming years, the money they earn is also better than many other jobs. According to O*NET, electricians made a median annual salary of $51,880 in May 2015. This was more than $15,000 higher than the median of all total occupations.

Apprentices usually earn about half of the salary that their fully-trained journeyman counterparts make, but are often rewarded with pay increases as they learn more skills on the job.

It All Starts with a Great Education

Did any of these three potential skilled trade careers catch your eye? Curious about more than one of these and not sure which would be best for you? Look no further than Penn Commercial Business/Technical School to meet your skilled trade education needs.

Penn Commercial Business/Technical School offers programs for all three of the skilled trade career options discussed in this post, in addition to many more, at its campus located in Washington, PA. The school offers programs in medical, business and salon and spa career training, on top of those in technical and skilled trade careers.

Penn Commercial Business/Technical School’s programs last from nine to 18 months, providing you with the skills and knowledge you need to enter the workforce. Graduates are able to enter the workforce sooner than students who attend four-year colleges and universities, saving both time and money. Students who enroll at Penn Commercial Business/Technical School are also able to receive state and federal financial aid that they are eligible for.

For more information about Penn Commercial Business/Technical School or to get in touch with a member of the admissions staff, please visit https://penncommercial.edu/contact-us/. Find out how Penn Commercial can start you off on a path to a rewarding career today!

Contact Us

Apply Online

Step 1 of 3

  • Your Name As You Would Like It To Appear on Your Degree.
  • Please enter numbers only (example: 7241234567).

Recent News

TONI&GUY Students’ Work Published in Hairstyling Magazine
Trade Jobs are for Women, Too!
Penn Commercial Launches Phlebotomy Technician Program