Starting a job in the trades? Start on the right foot.
If you’re thinking about starting a career in the trades, or are already started on your journey, here’s a few tips to help you start off on the right foot and progress in a healthy way.
1. Be patient (and humble).
“Be patient” was one of the pieces of advice a flooring Pro sent us to pass on to youth considering entering the trades.
Because it takes time to learn your trade. It takes time to advance from laborer to higher positions. It takes time to earn respect. It takes time to go from “worker” to “craftsman”.
So if you’re starting off in construction, remember to be patient. If you’re from the generation that grew up with instant video and audio on-demand, and the ability to learn whatever you want with a 5 second Google search, it may be frustrating to work as a laborer for years and progress slowly in your trade. So if you ever feel that way, just remember to take the long view of your life. Your work now is preparing you for a life-time of successful trades work. Remember that anything worth doing takes some amount of time, and devotion, and hard work.
Yeah, you may be working as a laborer for a few years – but you’re earning money the whole time, and honing your skills. After all, what’s 3-5 years of devoted learning and growing, to a lifetime of successful trades work?
The other piece of advice that we’d give in this tip is to be humble. Remember that you don’t know everything. Even if you think you do, and you’re work is spot on, be humble and receive instruction.
One thing you can do during the time that you’re learning your trade is to communicate your desires, and ask good questions. Don’t be afraid to voice your desire to become a _____ someday. Without being annoying, ask from time to time what you can work on to progress to the next level. If you don’t understand a certain technique, skill, or reason for something you’re doing, ask in a humble – eager to learn – way. In the end, it’s up to you how fast you want to progress and learn the trade you’re in.
You have two main options:
You can complain, just do what you’re told, and not put any effort in – wishing you were making more money or that you were further than you are. Or, you can work hard at what you do, and ask lots of questions. Be eager to learn. Soak up knowledge. Watch the more experienced guys and gals on the job. If you approach the job (and the crew) as a humble learner, you’ll do well.
2. Be passionate.
A quick scroll through the trades Pros of Instagram will show you something: they’re all really passionate about what they do.
Does that mean they love every single day? No way.
Does it mean there isn’t parts of the job they hate? No.
It means that in the end, they don’t just want to be every day carpenters. They want to be the best craftsman they can be. They don’t want to be average flooring installers. They want to be artists with the flooring materials they work with. They want to learn new techniques. They find inspiration in other people’s work. They ask questions from other Pros, and keep learning.
Being passionate about what you do will help take what you’re doing from just a job, to a craft.
3. Be persistent.
We already said you need to be patient. Becoming really good at your trade, starting a business, or growing into a Pro worth $50,000 – $75,000/year isn’t going to happen overnight. So be persistent. Don’t give up. If this trade is what you want, realize that bad days and hard tasks aren’t a sign that this isn’t for you. They’re things that you overcome, that build your character, and make you a better person.
So if you’re working on learning a new skill, keep at it. If you’re doing great at your job, and waiting to advance, keep at it. Don’t give up.
4. Embrace the journey from “job”, to “craft”.
At the end of the day, this is about going from construction as a “job”, to construction as a “craft”. In our humble opinion, the best Pros are the ones that treat their trade like a craft. They want to create work that they’re proud to put their name on. They want to be able to stand behind their work.
For many of you, and for many high schoolers and young adults, construction starts off as a job. It’s something to bring in a little money while you figure life out. Maybe you’ll end up in the trades, maybe you won’t. But what we’re suggesting is that if you do remain in the trades – you’ll do well to make the transition from job to craft. At some point, for many Pros across the world, they went from seeing what they were doing as a job that needs doing every day, to a craft that they would put their best efforts into.
That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult, or frustrating, or that at times they don’t want to give up. It just means that they truly fall in love with the trade. They care about types of wood and get passionate about wood grain patterns. They care about their trim being spot-on. They’ll go back and fix something if it wasn’t done just right. Life is more than work, but your work can be more enjoyable when you stop seeing it as a job, and start seeing it as a craft.
5. Never stop learning.
Again, scroll through Instagram and follow some of the Pros there. You’ll see that they’re asking questions in their stories and posts, giving advice, and always learning. We’ve seen some amazing professionals with incredible talent that are still learning from others in the community. So join communities like Instagram where you can learn from and be inspired by other Pros. Follow us, then DM us and we’ll be happy to introduce you to the community we follow. You can also learn online from Pros on sites like Construct-Ed. We make it easy to learn from other Pros, who will help you grow your business, skills, and knowledge – on-demand. The point is: never stop learning and growing.