Skilled Trades Remain in Demand Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
Why the skilled trades offer a rewarding career and good pay for those seeking a fresh start in the New Year
By Jeffrey Turner

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people lived and worked this year. Many industries laid off employees due to economic constraints. However, one of the overall bright spots in the economy has been the home building and remodeling industry. Residential construction was deemed an essential business by many state and local governments across the country during COVID-19 business restrictions. Throughout the pandemic, many individuals working in the skilled trades remained gainfully employed.

With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to show students and those seeking a career change how the skilled trades can offer a rewarding career path and a well-paying salary in 2021. The following talking points are great ones to share:

1) Working in the home building industry is more than just another job, it is a pathway to earning a great salary. Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $49,030 and the top 25 percent make at least $68,690, according to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data and analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In comparison, the U. S. median wage is $39,810, while the top quartile (top 25 percent) makes at least $64,240.

2) The earning potential is strong for both men and women in the industry. On average, women in the United States earn 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women in the construction industry earn 97 cents for every dollar a man earns. Recent studies show women gaining ground in the industry. The number of women employed in the construction industry grew substantially last year, rising to around 1.2 million and surpassing the peak of pre-recession employment levels, according to NAHB.

3) Training programs offer a viable alternative to the 4-year college track without the burden of sky-high student loan debt. In the 2018-19 school year, the average amount borrowed by bachelor’s degree recipients who took out loans to pay for college was $28,800, according to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid 2020 report. The residential construction industry offers a variety of training programs at a fraction of the cost of a four-year degree.

There are many resources available to help individuals get started in a career in the trades. The North Carolina Home Builders Association can connect students to apprentice programs or other job training programs locally. The National Housing Endowment, in partnership with the Home Builders Institute, offers several scholarships to students pursuing a career in the building industry.

Working in the trades brings a sense of satisfaction for completing high-quality work that contributes to home building and ultimately helping to fulfill the American Dream.