What Is a Skilled Trades Career and Is It For You?

There are terms and acronyms for nearly every industry. Some cross industries and some are specific to just one. Skilled trades is one used in several, including our work at Cascade Die Casting Group, Inc. But some people may not know exactly what it means – so we’re here to clear it up.

What is a Skilled Trades Job?

Skilled trades jobs require specialized skills, knowledge and training in a particular craft. Think of them as jobs that require practical experience and/or an apprenticeship (we’ll explain this in a bit) and/or advanced training, but not a college degree. Different types of trades are typically found in construction, manufacturing, automotive repair, plumbing, electrical, welding, carpentry, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and more.

Skill Trades Job at Cascade Die CastingNecessary skills for these types of jobs can be built by completing a vocational or non-degree program at a community college, or through employer-sponsored training. For example, CNC manufacturers may study related topics – programming, robotics – through a program offered at their job, while carpenters or electricians tend to participate in formal apprenticeship programs that teach the necessary skills through a mix of classroom instruction and performing on-the-job tasks.


Apprentice, Journeyman, Master

There are three levels of a skilled tradesperson: apprentice, journeyman and master. As expected, each level requires a higher level of knowledge and skills before you can attain them.

  • Apprentice: an entry-level worker who participates in specialized training and works under the supervision of a licensed worker to learn the necessary skills. Some apprentices take educational courses to supplement their on-the-job training as they prepare to become a licensed journeyman. A high school diploma, or the equivalent of one, is required to be an apprentice.
  • Journeyman: a skilled trades worker that has completed an apprenticeship, and in some instances, earned a license specific to their field of work. Though they have more skills than an apprentice, a journeyman is still supervised, normally working under a trade master, or higher level employe (e.g., production supervisor). In addition to having a high school diploma, many journeymen complete a certification program and, depending on their trade, take a state exam.
  • Master: a skilled trades worker with the highest professional qualifications in a craft. This level isn’t as cut and dry as the apprentice and journeyman levels because it depends on the trade in which you are working, though most masters hold supervisory roles. Historically, a worker reached a master level when they were a member of and/or submitted a masterpiece to their guild. Certificates and degrees from vocational schools can help you advance to this level in your career.

Is a Skilled Trades Job Right For You?

According to, certain characteristics will help you be a successful and sought-after skilled tradesperson. These include:

  • Safety conscious: knowing and following your job and/or company’s safety requirements and regulations will avoid unnecessary accidents and/or injuries.
  • Strong communicator: it’s important to communicate clearly and concisely to your fellow workers, vendors/suppliers and customers.
  • Problem solver: no two jobs are the same and skilled tradespeople are often faced with complex problems that require critical thinking and troubleshooting skills.
  • Detail oriented: a lot of the work skilled tradespeople do requires precision and attention to detail to complete it successfully and safely.

If you would like to learn a trade or craft, like working with your hands and solving problems, a skilled trades job may be for you.

Cascade Die Casting Group, Inc. offers a variety of skilled trades jobs in maintenance, tool and die, and machining at our three locations in Michigan and North Carolina. We are a premier die caster that makes quality and reliable products for the medical, furniture, consumer electronics, appliances, automotive, off-road sport vehicles industries. You’ve probably come across one of our products on everyday items including Kitchen Aid mixers, John Deere tractors, Whirlpool dryers and vehicles made by Ford, GM, Stellantis, Nissan and Toyota.

For information on Cascade’s trade careers, check out our careers page.


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