If you've read your history books, you know that Rosie the Riveter was the center of a movement aimed at recruiting female workers to America's factories and shipyards during World War II. It was rallying cry to action, as widespread male enlistment in the military had left a void in the American workforce that women were rallied to fill. As a result, between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27% to almost 37%.
Something similar is going on today in the skilled trades. Men make up the vast majority of jobs in construction, electrical, plumbing and HVAC, but this is slowly starting to change as more women enter skilled trades careers.
Women can — and should — consider a job in the skilled trades. Many of these jobs offer plentiful opportunities for women who want to build a prosperous career: high pay, affordable and fast educational or apprenticeship requirements and a clear path to becoming your own boss, if that's your end goal.
Here are five entry-level skilled trades jobs women should consider.
1. Carpentry Laborer
Women can make great carpentry laborers — these are usually the people on a construction job site who are responsible for tasks such as setting up and tearing down tools, carrying equipment and materials to the builders, cleaning up debris and trash and learning carpentry basics.
In this role, women can begin to learn the carpentry trade and work their way up to a full-time carpenter role with the right guidance, opportunity and know-how. Women who love working with their hands may want to consider a carpentry laborer job in the trades.
2. Electrician's Apprentice
Apprentices to electricians generally support licensed electricians in the operation, repair and maintenance of electrical systems. They could work in residential homes, commercial buildings or both. Electrician's apprentices help with installation and maintenance tasks to ensure electrical systems operate properly.
Women are natural visual planners, making them perfect candidates for an electrician's apprentice job. And for projects that require precise design plans and lighting in unusual places, women's natural creativity will surely come in handy.
3. Painting Laborer
Job duties for a painting laborer can vary depending on the type of painting company. If you're working for a residential painter, for instance, you might be taught proper painting techniques, be responsible for laying out drop cloths and other equipment and apply painter's tape to ensure precise, clean lines.
Women are naturally fantastic at planning color schemes and design patterns, making them naturally good painters. Painting also requires a steady hand and attention to detail, two characteristics many women possess. You may be able to help clients choose the right type of paint and the right color for their living areas, depending on the look they're going for.
4. Flooring and Tile Laborer
If you like the idea of helping people breathe new life into living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and other spaces by renovating their floors, this job might be for you. Working under an experienced floor and tile installer, you'll learn proper techniques for applying all types of floors and different materials used to ensure its longevity and clean design.
5. Entry-Level Plumber
An entry-level plumber typically works under an experienced plumber to help ensure people's homes have a properly running water system. Many companies have you analyze blueprints and floor plans to understand the existing water system, and may have you assist in the design and planning of a new one or one that's being renovated.
The kinds of skills necessary to succeed as a plumber may include troubleshooting and analytical skills, customer-facing abilities and familiarity with plumbing tools and equipment. Women who grew up watching their dads or moms fix leaky pipes under the sink or install new faucets may find this to be a rewarding career.
Some specialty plumbers may also be involved in the design and planning of a new bathroom or kitchen water system, so you may have the opportunity to make suggestions on fixtures, materials and design choices.
If you're interested in learning more about the trades and what they have to offer women (and men), join the Generation T movement.