During World War II, men went overseas, and women stepped into the roles men had to leave. It was then that Rosie the Riveter was born, and essential jobs like welding, mechanics, and electricians were all filled by women who fought the war on the home front by getting the work done.
Now, in 2021, women once again should consider making a career in the skilled trades — a world where six figures are attainable, and where training can accrue very minimal debt. Explore great trade careers by reading further, or find a program now.
Why Should Women Consider Skilled Trades?
For the last few years, there’s a growing shortage of skilled trades workers in areas such welding, electric, plumbing, healthcare, and mechanics. In recent years, the American Welding Society has indicated that the shortage of welders has caused issue in our nation.
In HVAC and electric, job openings are projected to increase according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With many skilled trades men and women retiring, the deficit is expected to increase. With this rising demand, now is the perfect time to enter the skilled trades.
In World War II, the U.S. saw an increase of support for women in trades. The work climate is headed back to that mindset — trades are looking for women to step in.
While women aren’t the dominant presence in skilled trade careers, aside from medical, cosmetology, and culinary, statistics show that over half of homes in America are being sustained by women. As our world becomes more progressive and realistic, it is important to understand that trades hold as much opportunity for women as they do men.
Skilled Trade Careers for Women to Consider
With a high school diploma/GED and any needed training, women can enter whichever trade they like. Here are a dozen positions out of hundreds of careers that we have picked:
- HVAC technician: Work in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Train in as few as 6 months. Find HVAC technician programs.
- Dental assistant: Sit at the dentist's side and assist with tools as he or she works. Train in as few as 10 months. Find dental assistant programs.
- Welder: Fuse metal together in a career that spans many industries. Train in as few as 9 months. Find welding programs.
- Medical biller or medical coder: Work in the medical industry, behind the scenes entering patient diagnoses and sending invoices to insurance companies. Train in as few as 9 months. Find medical billing programs and medical coding programs.
- Aircraft mechanic: Repair and maintain helicopters, airplanes, and jets. Train in as few as 18 months. Find aircraft mechanic programs.
- Electrician: Run and repair power for outside power lines, residential homes, commercial buildings, and more. Train in as few as 10 months. Find electrician programs.
- Diesel technician: Keep vehicles with diesel engines in top condition. Train in as few as 10 months. Find diesel technician programs.
- Phlebotomy technician: Draw blood from patients for lab work. Train in as few as 10 months. Find phlebotomy technician programs near you.
- Paralegal: Assist attorneys on cases from start to finish. Train in as few as 18 months. Find paralegal programs.
- Medical assistant: Take patient vitals, help doctors and nurses in exam rooms, and schedule appointments. Train in as few as 9 months. Find medical assistant programs.
- Plumber: Install fixtures, pipes, and answer emergency calls. Train in as few as 10 months. Find plumber programs.
Professional truck driving is for women, too.
Trades Scholarships for Women
Going to trade school can take you from the classroom into the workforce relatively quickly, without racking up the monumental debt that would go along with a traditional four-year university. Even more good news — financial help is available.
Not to mention, everyone is eligible to apply for and receive government-allocated educational funds by filling out the FAFSA. Also, look at grants for minorities, grants for female veterans, and grants specifically for women of all ages going into trade jobs.
Please take a look at our guide to getting financial aid for trade schools; it’s filled with information needed to find available funding for vocational school.
Some female-specific scholarship opportunities:
- The American Association of University Women offers funds for full-time female students who are entering fields where women aren’t well represented, such as math, engineering, and sciences.
- There are a number of female-specific scholarships available for those entering the culinary field, such as Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
- Horizon Scholarship for Women in Defense is available for women headed into criminal justice fields.
- The Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholarship is for women 35 or older who are going back to school for a vocational/trade degree, associate degree, or a first bachelor’s degree.
Associations for Women in Trades
To create equality and ethics, and eliminate barriers that prohibit the success of women in trades, a significant amount of associations have been formed. There are many national organizations and even more on a state level. A quick Google search for your state can show you numerous results. You can also contact one of the listed associations below; they may be able to give you state-specific information.
- Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW) was founded in 1980 and is one of the oldest pre-apprenticeship programs for women taking non-traditional career paths. ANEW provides training and job placement for women in the skilled trade work force.
- Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) is a program that provides instruction and training for women who choose careers in construction. Founded in 1978, NEW is primarily a New York-based program focused on low-income minority women to bring them into skilled, unionized jobs, that are also well paying.
- Pride and Paycheck is a free monthly e-magazine supporting women in skilled trade careers. Much of it has content relayed in stories from other women in trades.
- Hard Hatted Woman is dedicated to help women succeed in trades. It helps match qualified women and their skills to applicable jobs.
- National Association of Women in Construction(NAWIC) states on its website that its core purpose is to enhance the success of women in the construction industry. The association aims to raise employer awareness, educate women in the construction industry, and to create an infrastructure to meet the needs and goals of women in construction.
- Professional Women in Construction (PWC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of opportunities for women and minorities in nontraditional and minority-owned business roles.
- Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles (WINTER) helps to promote the employment of highly skilled women working in two sectors: poverty-level women and youth to provide “progressive high school education,” training, and employment. The mission is to “empower women to achieve economic self-sufficiency”.
- Women in Trucking (WIT) brings gender diversity to what is considered a heavily male-dominated industry with the hope of alleviating obstacles women face in trucking. The organization focuses on the transportation and logistics industry.
With the right training, a career in the skilled trades will provide you not only with a massive amount of job satisfaction but also a true sense of self. There’s nothing like being content with who you are and the direction your life is going — and no one should experience barriers preventing that.