As women continue to enter skilled trades as a career choice, we’re seeing more female-owned businesses and organizations emerge. But how do these new women-run companies get started? What resources are available to help them succeed?
There are many great resources available to help women who want to enter these industries, including apprenticeships, classes, certifications, associations, books and blogs.
This guide will provide you with valuable information and inspiration as you prepare for your career in the skilled trades.
What Are Skilled Trades?
Skilled trades are those that require a high level of education and training. There are many kinds of skilled trades, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, roofing, HVAC and painting. Each of these trades requires its own skill set, knowledge and certifications. Many skilled trades require a vocational school certificate or degree, and some may require a bachelor’s degree. It’s important to know what each trade requires before you work as a professional contractor. While there are multiple categories of skilled trades, this resource will focus on construction trades.
Residential Construction Job Market
Demand for residential construction is booming nationwide. Companies are having a difficult time trying to keep up with residential construction leads and need skilled workers to help with the demand. According to a recent estimate, the demand for construction workers is expected to rise by 1.3 million over the next few years.
Recent census data shows that spending on residential construction has continued to grow year over year. With COVID-19, more companies are adopting a remote or hybrid approach for their employees. This leads the employees to hire contractors for home improvement projects to help make their home a nice place to work. This has fueled the industry, which has seen amazing growth over the past few years.
While many people think that construction jobs are only for men, that is simply not true. Over the past 30 years, the number of women employed in construction have grown significantly. However, it is still an industry dominated by men, as women account for only 9% of the construction workforce.
Similar to other industries, pay gaps exist, but the gap is considerably less in construction than in some other fields.
According to the National Association of Women In Construction:
- 44% of construction women are in professional or management roles
- 21% of construction women are in service-related roles
- There was a 64% increase in construction women working as maintenance painters between 2014 and 2019
- There was a 50% increase in female construction laborers between 2014 and 2019
- 13% of construction firms are owned by women
- 9% of female-owned construction firms are currently grossing more than half a million dollars in annual revenue.
As demand soars, more jobs are being created in the construction industry, and more opportunities are available for women in the industry than ever before. The resources below can help augment those opportunities.
Apprenticeship and Trade School Resources
An apprenticeship is a formal training program where a person learns a trade while being supervised by a professional; it is often a paid position that leads to full-time work. Some companies also offer unpaid internships that don’t typically lead to a full-time position.
A trade school is a place where people who want to become skilled tradespeople attend classes to learn new skills. Trade schools are often referred to as vocational schools.
Trade schools teach students practical skills such as carpentry, plumbing, welding, electrical wiring and other useful skills, such as utilizing construction CRM software. They also provide hands-on training so students can gain real-world experience.
Landing an apprenticeship and attending a trade school are great ways for women to gain real-world experience, build valuable connections in the industry and start their career path to any skilled trade. They provide hands-on experience and teach soft skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving and teamwork. .
Many resources for apprenticeships and trade school programs are available. Some of the programs are government-funded, some are offered by private companies and others are offered free by nonprofit organizations. In addition, there are online courses offered by universities and colleges. Several resources for apprenticeships are listed below.
- Women in Non Traditional Employment Roles
- Apprentice Resources Center | ANEW
- “Advancing Opportunities for Women through Apprenticeship”
- Nontraditional Employment for Women
- Introduction to Apprenticeship Workshop | Tradeswomen
- Apprentice program | UA
- The Ultimate Guide to Trade and Vocational Schools
Online Educational Resources
There are many resources available for women interested in entering the construction industry. These include online courses, blogs, articles, books and other publications.
- Advancement of Women in Construction (on-demand course) | Lorman
- Trades Training | Hope Renovations
- Women In Construction
- Sisters in the Brotherhood
- NEF-EDU NAWIC Education Foundation
- Rosie’s Girls Camp
- Pride and a Paycheck
- NABWIC podcast
- “Remodel Your Life” podcast
- Women in Construction blog
- “Who Runs the World? Women in Construction”
- “Women in Construction” podcast
Grants and Scholarships
There are scholarship and grant opportunities available for women in the skilled trades. Below are some resources to help you find popular grants and scholarships.
- Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant program
- Association of Women Contractors scholarships
- Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholar Grants
- The Refrigeration School’s Women in Skilled Trades Scholarship
Skilled Trade Certification and Contractor Licensing
If you want to become a licensed contractor, you’ll need a license from either the state or local government. Depending on where you live, this might mean passing a test administered by the state board of contractors or taking a course at a community college. The resources below can help you find the right program and help you learn more about contractor licensing.
Associations, Conferences and Other Events
There are multiple associations, conferences and events for women in the skilled trades. There are also many online resources, including websites and social media groups. Some of these resources are listed below.
- National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
- Professional Women in Construction (PWC)
- Groundbreaking Women in Construction (GWIC) conference
- Tradeswomen events
- Women Employed
- Nontraditional Employment for Women
- Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO)
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
- Women Construction Owners & Executives
- National Association of Black Women in Construction (NABWIC)
- Women In Construction Summit
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