There are lots of different trades that you can choose from to build a career. Trades can teach us many valuable skills that provide us with a good income. But is there a point where it’s too late to pick up a trade? What is the best age to start a trade?
The best age to start a trade is in your late teens, early twenties, between 17 and 23. It’s best to start a trade young because your mind and body will learn new skills easily. Your physical abilities are often stronger and tougher, which helps you start to build your work experience and reputation.
Let’s talk more about starting and learning a trade.
Am I too old to start a trade?
It can be hard to say if you are too old to start a trade because we have the ability to learn new skills throughout most of our lifetime. Lots of people end up changing their careers in their late forties and early fifties and succeed in their new roles. This is proof that for most of your life it isn’t too late for you to start a trade.
Most people start a trade quite young, typically between the ages of 16 and 24. But there is no age limit on apprenticeships. Trade schools and apprenticeships have age requirements, but this usually is in regard to how old you have to be to start them. So, for most trades, you have to be at least 16 to participate in trade schools and apprenticeships. But there isn’t often an outlined age that is considered too old to start a trade.
Of course, there will be times when you need to recognize that starting a trade might not be a good idea. If your body can’t keep up with the physical demands of a trade, it might be best to look at other parts of the construction industry. It is such a massive industry that you are sure to find a role to suit you somewhere!
If you have a few health problems, you aren’t necessarily too old to start a trade, but probably not fit enough to handle the work. But if you’re in good physical condition for your age, with good control over your hands, starting a trade could be a great lifestyle change!
Why should I start a trade?
Learning a trade can have many benefits. In the current job market, there is a big demand for skilled labourers for hire, especially for trades like carpentry, plumbing, metal fabrication, and welding.
A career in a skilled trade can offer the same benefits as a white-collar job without the cost of a 4-year degree. When you start a trade just after high school, you immediately gain work experience in the real world. Learning a trade takes half the time of an academic degree. By the time your university friends graduate, you will already be a skilled worker with experience and a steady income.
A trade also gives you many employment options. You can either be your own boss and work on your own or pursue a career in a larger business. There is a great option to join forces with a local labour hire company to constantly find trade work as a labourer.
If you find that you struggled with the academic side of school, it is likely that you will thrive in a trade. You will be involved with lots of hands-on learning and are shown all the different skills involved in the trade. Plus, you can get paid work experience while completing an apprenticeship! Starting a trade is a great way to have an income while training and building a great construction career.
What are the best trades to learn?
The best trade for you would depend on your preferences, your personal circumstances, and market demands. Before you decide on the trade you want to start, do some research about the job market in your region. What jobs are in demand at present? Is there a shortage of some trades? Which tradespeople earn the best income?
Here are some of the most in-demand trades in Australia:
- Motor mechanics
- Panel beaters
- Heavy vehicle mechanics
In addition to the job market, you should also consider your own preferences. Think about the following factors:
- Do you prefer to work indoors or outdoors?
- Are there any limitations that might prevent you from doing a certain trade? (For example, physical fitness, colour blindness, phobias, etc.)
- What kind of working hours do you prefer?
- What are you passionate about?
- What kind of work do you find uncomfortable?
Once you have answered these questions, compare your wants to the different trades in demand. See what opportunities match up most with your career goals and then look into how to pick up a trade!
How to start a trade?
There are many routes you can follow to start a trade. Some employers hire entry-level workers and train them on the job. But some fields require a certificate, an associate degree, or an apprenticeship.
Joining a trade school
Before starting your career in a new trade, you need to learn all the important aspects and skills of that trade. The best way to do this is by going to trade school and undertaking apprenticeships. Most trade schools will require you to have a high school diploma, or an equivalent certificate, such as a GED. In Australia, there are other rules surrounding our education that can allow people to move to a trade school at the age of 16 or after having completed year 10.
There will always be some exceptions to these rules, depending on how you learn and if you are really struggling at regular school. If you can prove you have the ability and interest to follow a trade, the school system will work to help you join a trade school.
There is less pressure from the admission process of a trade school compared to universities. You don’t need high test scores or grades. But to have a trade career, you need to complete construction training. So, start a trade by first attending trade school. During this time, you could also complete an apprenticeship.
Starting an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships are another way to start a trade. They are often completed alongside trade school studies but can also be done without this.
With apprenticeships, you will get paid to learn from experienced professionals in real work environments. Meanwhile, you will also get to complete formal classroom training. In most apprenticeships, the minimum age requirement is 16.
Often, starting a trade through an apprenticeship is an appealing option because you don’t have to pay to complete this training. But any formal classroom training will have fees. The good news is that some government trade support loans you can investigate to support you as an apprentice!
If you have some experience with a trade, you can participate in fast-tracking apprenticeships that prepare you to join the workforce in a shorter time. They qualify you for entry-level trade positions, where you join on-the-job training and increase your skills while working. This is a popular option for those who might want to start a trade a bit later in life.
There is no set age limit on starting a trade. As we mentioned, most start a trade around the age of 16 or 17. But if you have the ability to learn new things and are healthy enough for labour work, you could pick up a trade anytime.