How To Become a Tradesman

Learn a Trade and You Will Have a Job for Life

Despite technological and online advances, the world will always need tradesmen. How can you build a career that will generate a guaranteed, secure income?

“Learn a trade, son.” It sounds like the sage advice of a well-meaning parent in a 1950s film, but it resonates as much in the 21st century as ever. The truth is that we will always need plumbers, builders and electricians, and good ones are never short of work.

If you have what it takes to build a practical career as a tradesman, what are the steps to make it happen? Well, like any self employed entrepreneur, there are some basics you need to get in place first. Develop a business plan, learn the basics of accounting and make sure you have an appropriate tradesman insurance policy in place before you let yourself loose on the big wide world. Ready? Here are some tips for success in the trade of your choice.

Practice on yourself

Practical skills and knowledge are obviously key, and while many can be learned on the job, it is not feasible to start professionally from ground zero.

Many hands-on jobs are ones that you can start out as a hobby of through household projects. Not only will this help you develop your skills, but you will also come to understand whether this is really what you want to spend the rest of your life doing.

So whether it is bricklaying, car repairs or plumbing, get out into your garage or workshop and start tinkering. In addition, you can pick up a huge amount of tips and tricks online, so check out those YouTube tutorials, and try not to get distracted.

Get qualified

In any trade, you will get along faster and better with some professional qualifications behind you. Indeed, in some sectors, for example as a gas engineer, you are legally required to have the appropriate certification. Electricians must also be qualified to get work – many businesses now insist on seeing certificates, such as Electrical Installation Certificates (EICs) and Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificates (MEIWCs), before allowing an electrician to start work. All work in dwellings must also be Part P certified by law, which means that a Registered Competent Person checks and signs off the work.

Check out your local technical college for appropriate courses, and again, don’t forget the online options, where you can cover a great deal of the theoretical aspects from the comfort of your own home.


The concept of apprenticeships has seen something of a renaissance over the past decade or so, thanks to solid government support.  They provide an ideal path into your chosen career, allowing you to learn on the job skills from experienced colleagues and acquire further qualifications, while still generating an income.

In 2015/16 there were over 500,000 apprenticeship starts in the UK.

Becoming a Professional

Once you have, quite literally, served your apprenticeship, you are ready to step out on your own and develop your career as a professional tradesman. Now you will need to add a certain degree of business management skills to your repertoire. These will include looking after your finances, billing and tax returns, and developing your business by using advertising and marketing techniques.

Remember, however, that the best advertising you can ever receive is personal recommendations through word of mouth, so doing a professional job and leaving a happy customer, who will want to use your services again and will recommend you to family and friends, is absolutely essential to make or break your burgeoning career.

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