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Why the Skilled Trades Shortage Means More Opportunities for You

Posted on: November 10, 2014

According to a recent study by Manpower, a workforce services firm, finding qualified candidates to fill skilled trades jobs tops the list of the hardest jobs to fill in the U.S. for the third year in a row. Skilled trades include plumbers, electricians, mechanics, welders, computer technicians and appliance repair technicians.

Statistics show that the skilled labor workforce is aging, with almost 19 percent of workers in this sector between 55 and 64 years old, and 53 percent over 45 years old. In Illinois, the statistics are higher, with almost 25 percent of the skilled labor workforce over age 55 and about 58 percent over 45 years. Fewer people in the trades sector continue working after age 65. As people retire over the next 10 years, more jobs will become available. As the economy improves and construction picks up, the demand for skilled labor increases.

Illinois Job Prospects

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of 21 percent for the plumbing sector nationwide between 2012 and 2022. Illinois is one of the five top-paying states for this occupation, with an annual mean wage of $67,860 and an average mean hourly wage of $32.62. The national annual mean wage is $53,820 and average mean hourly wage is $25.88. Illinois has fewer trained technicians in this field than most states in relation to the population, so the potential for growth is higher.

Even when the economy is not strong or construction slows, existing buildings require maintenance. As local and state codes change, the demand for skilled craftspeople will increase to bring properties up to code and keep more complex systems running properly.

Benefits of Working in the Skilled Trade Sector

Most people who enter the field start as apprentices and work with a licensed professional, although some enter through vocational training. Most apprentice programs, like the ones offered through Illinois Plumbing Consultants, combine on-the-job training with academic learning. This provides practical experience, a solid background in physical properties and materials and an understanding of state codes and how to apply them.

Professionals in this field must have an aptitude for hands-on applications as well as good critical thinking and strong math and physics abilities. Because no two jobs are the same, plumbers must be able to apply learned knowledge to evaluate problems and find solutions.

Plumbing salaries are on a par with or higher than some professions available to those with liberal arts degrees. Master journeymen have the potential to make up to $100,000 a year. Those who become supervisors or managers do even better. In addition, the cost of entry is much less. Most apprenticeship programs pay about 60 percent of what a licensed journey person makes, so those learning the trade are paid while they learn. In contrast, student debt for those earning degrees in four-year university programs averages $33,000.

Find Out More

Illinois Plumbing Consultants offers an apprenticeship program to start a career the field. Staff and guest lecturers contribute to a well-rounded course of study that prepares you for the Illinois licensing exam. Contact us to find out when the new program begins.

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Our Educators
Our Instructors Have Real-World Experience
John Bertram

John Bertram has been in the plumbing industry since 1985. He has worked in both commercial and residential shops for over twenty years, and John has been a plumbing inspector since 2005.

Rick Sperando

Rick Sperando has been in the plumbing industry for over 35 years. He successfully owns and operates a local plumbing and mechanical company as well as IPC.

Scott Underwood

Scott Underwood brings over 20 years of industry experience along with 10 years of instruction. He currently holds his IL Plumbers License as well as his CCCDI license. Scott is currently a co-owner of a successful plumbing company in McHenry County.

Guy Curtis Smale

My duties as the City of McHenry plumbing inspector include plan review of all new plumbing work as well remodeling projects, inspection of all plumbing being installed or repaired in the City as well as the Village of Prairie Grove, property maintenance issues related to the State Plumbing Code, working with the County Health Dept.

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