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Pathways to the trades

Female and male student working on a machine at Rogue Community College


Learn how to prepare for a career in the trades.

About the trades

Trades usually refer to careers in the construction, manufacturing, mechanical, and utility fields. They are usually hands-on jobs that are physically and mentally challenging. You may need to join a union for some trades.

Examples of careers in the trades:



Line repairer




What education or training do I need for the trades?

Most trades need education or training beyond high school. There are many different avenues into the trades.

  • Certificate or Associate degree: 1-2 year programs that focuses on skills for a specific career. Available at community colleges, trade schools or JobCorps centers.
  • Apprenticeship: Paid on-the-job training and classroom learning for a specific trade. In Oregon, they are offered at a community college, trade school, or an Apprenticeship and Training Center (ATC).
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: Management and engineering jobs in the trades often need an advanced degree from a college or university.

What can I do to prepare for a career in the trades?

Take the right classes to graduate from high school.

  • You will need a high school diploma or GED.
  • Take math in high school. Most trades jobs use math regularly.
  • Take Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes to get hands-on experience.

Learn more about trades.

  • Take part in an internship, job shadow or summer program.
  • Volunteer with a community program where you can learn new skills and practice good work habits.
  • Enroll in a pre-apprenticeship program. These help you get ready to enter a trade or apprenticeship program.
  • Explore career and training options at Build Oregon and Oregon Apprenticeship.

Stay healthy and fit.

  • Stay drug-free. Employers may screen applicants and employees.
  • Get in shape. Many trades jobs are physically demanding.