If You Want A Career You Love, Maybe You Should Become A Tradie
There are a few too many preconceived ideas around being a tradie. Which is strange, because last we checked, making good money, working with your hands, being debtless, and travelling the world sounded pretty great.
It seems like the default course for many of us is finishing high school, going to uni for at least three years, and finding work in an office. And while this might land us our dream job, it also might not – instead leaving us a little bummed out, not knowing what to do next, and racked with debt.
But as more and more people continue this trend, trade jobs keep opening up – most of which are actually listed on the Australian National Skills Needs List.
So for young Australians looking to broaden their horizons and get into a trade, here are a few things to look forward to.
How does earning more than the average lawyer sound? According to 2016’s national figures from serviceseeker.com.au, the average plumber charges a whopping $78.40 an hour, while the average electrician charges $74.61 an hour. Overall, tradies across the country made an average of $60.88 an hour last year. Not too shabby right? And those figures are on the rise too.
Of course, how much you pocket as a tradie will depend on your experience, the work you do, and whether you’re employed or self-employed. But even as an apprentice or trainee you’re looking at a steady salary. The money might be a little on the low side to begin with, but you’ll be earning and learning the whole time. Plus, if you’re straight out of school, you’ll likely be pulling more coin than most of your friends. So your shout.
The office (or lack of)
Sick of staring at screens eight hours a day? Taking multiple trips to the cafe just to stretch your legs? Working a trade can be a physically demanding profession, but that’s also one of the perks. Whether you’re working as a bricky, chippy or sparky, you’ll be on your feet most of that day, travelling from site to site, moving and working your body in variety of ways, and meeting new people all the time. In most jobs, you’ll also get to knock off while the sun’s still shining.
You can travel the world
Want to work and travel at the same time? Once you’re a qualified tradie, the world is pretty much your oyster. Skills in trades like plumbing, construction, and carpentry will never go out of style – so if you’ve got ambitions of working overseas one day, being a tradie can make it happen.
The good thing is, we have it pretty good when it comes to this kind of thing. The government has agreements with a bunch of countries that make living the dream possible. So just do your research on any extra qualifications you might need, and get outta here.
No massive debts
In the same time it takes to finish a bachelor’s degree, you can also become a qualified tradie for a fraction of the cost (subject to your apprenticeship). Having a looming debt over your head isn’t the best feeling. And watching it chip away at your salary when you start earning enough isn’t great either.
That said, we aren’t telling you not to go to university. It’s just that becoming a tradie gives you a chance to get ahead early, have lasting job security, and start your working life in the black. So if this appeals to you in any way, it’s certainly worth thinking about.
In many office jobs, you might never see the results of your hard work. All that tappin’ for no reward. But as a tradie, your work is always tangible. At the end of the day you can stand back, put your hands on your hips, and look at what you’ve constructed, installed, unclogged, repaired, welded, painted or cut.
As a tradie, you’ll also exercise a bunch of skills at once, think creatively and solve problems big and small – which according to science, feels pretty damn satisfying. Not only does manual work promote psychological wellbeing, it makes you feel more productive, and even relieves stress.
It’s not just a man’s game
While a recent national report found that women made up 14.7 per cent of technicians and tradies, that’s not stopping organisations like Supporting and Linking Tradeswoman (SALT) inspiring more young women to enter a trade. Starting in 2009, SALT has held over 100 workshops and talked at over 60 schools across the country. Fi Shewring, SALT President, has also written a guide that debunks myths surrounding female tradies, and helps employers get the facts straight about employing tradeswomen – which is definitely one way of addressing the country’s skills shortages.
Doug Whyte is a freelance writer and copywriter. He’s worked in branding agencies, digital publishing and written a bunch of articles for a bunch of publications.