Growing up, it’s common to get asked what you want to be or do when you get older. When you’re little you could say anything you wanted, like a superhero or rockstar. As a teenager, it’s important to give your future some thought as you navigate high school and decide whether you plan to go to college. Although not a typical career path many girls gravitate towards, blue-collar jobs provide a variety of career opportunities for young women everywhere.
Despite the trades being a male-dominated industry, many women and girls have been breaking barriers to find career success and fulfillment with blue-collar jobs. One perk about being a woman in blue-collar is that the gender pay gap is narrower than most professions. In fact, certain skilled trade jobs like being an aircraft mechanic or electrician can even end up paying more than traditional jobs that require a college degree. For many, a high-paying career without the student loans is the smarter life choice.
To help girls explore the path toward a blue-collar career, we provide three tips to get you started.
Find a good mentor.
When it comes to breaking gender barriers with your career, it can be helpful to find someone who’s been there before to help guide you. Being a female in a male-dominated industry can have its challenges, but the right mentor can offer you advice and support as you navigate them.
They can also teach you about the industry and help you with skills so that you can level up faster and promote your own career growth. Feel free to look into professional organizations like Women Who Weld or Professional Women in Construction for a mentor as well.
Have a backup plan.
Many trade industries are constantly evolving with technology. The manufacturing industry, for example, has seen many blue-collar jobs get replaced by automation and AI. Make sure you have career options and can be flexible in case your job of choice is limited. Do this by learning a variety of transferable skills that can apply to many industries so you can adapt with the times.
Believe in yourself.
One of the biggest barriers to being a girl in a male-dominated field can be your own insecurity and self-doubt. It’s important to be confident in yourself and your abilities, because you can do anything a man can do. Don’t let limiting beliefs from yourself or others define your potential for career growth and success. For some girl power inspiration, check out a few quotes from others who broke the norm below.
- “Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities. Get up and make them.”
— Madam C. J. Walker
- “Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.”
— Amelia Earhart
The future of blue collar work lies with women. Be a part of the next generation of women in trades who shift the status quo and reap the benefits of challenging gender norms and closing the pay gap. If you’re a girl who’s interested in what a blue-collar career has to offer, check out the infographic below from Zoro on potential blue-collar jobs and more inspiration from successful women.