Plumber fixing white sink pipe with adjustable wrench.

A career in the trades could provide satisfaction as well as a higher paycheck for those looking to switch jobs. A new report by Angi found that a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and “The Great Resignation” has created a unique opportunity for the trades to thrive. 

According to the “2021 The Skilled Trades in America” report, careers in the trades have high job satisfaction due to high levels of entrepreneurship, generous pay, and a sense of meaning connected to the work. Of the 2,400 skilled tradespeople surveyed, 83% are somewhat or extremely satisfied in their choice of work. This, coupled with a worsening labor shortage, could create an enticing opportunity for those looking to switch jobs.

According to Mischa Fisher, Chief Economist at Angi, 2021 is a particularly dynamic year for the trades. “The adage that ‘opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ has never been truer than it is in 2021,” she said.

Higher demand for work is leading to higher pay — plumbers, electricians, and general contractors earn 22%, 29%, and 53% more than the general population, respectively. Compensation, along with meaning and value in the work, are major drivers of job satisfaction. 

As with other industries, the trades are experiencing a labor shortage. More than two-thirds (68%) of companies are struggling to hire skilled workers. Survey respondents identified several insights that could help companies counteract this shortage.

  • 62% think there is a lack of respect for blue collar work
  • 59% believe providing a clear pathway for women would make the trades more welcoming
  • 54% say that Americans over-prioritize university at the expense of trade school

In addition, although the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community makes up about 18% of the U.S. population, they only account for 9% of plumbers, 8% of construction supervisors/general contractors, and 10% of electricians.

An adaptive approach to recruiting could be key to tapping into the labor movement. The number of trade companies using online job postings rose to 37% from 28% last year. This represents a missed opportunity since over 80% of Americans use online job searches to find employment.

Companies in the trades also need to better communicate the benefits of these jobs. “If home trades recognize the connection between what their trades offer and what workers are seeking during the Great Resignation, we could begin to see a narrative change around trade labor and start to reverse the labor shortages that have impacted the trades for years,” the report states.