Keeping America Running: Why the Skilled Trades Are So Essential

8.20.20 Keeping America Running - Why the Skilled Trades are So Essential

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t survive without the people doing the skilled trades. From the linemen who restored power after severe weather to the truck drivers and supply chain workers that have helped us replenish when supplies were scarce, our skilled workers deserve a lot of credit for keeping America moving.

What are some of the most sought-after skilled trade positions, and how can you learn the skills needed to excel in these positions? Consider these positions and the training it takes to succeed:

Utility Technician

A power or utility technician (sometimes referred to as a lineman) works with electrical or gas power lines. The people in these positions need a mechanical aptitude along with knowledge of mathematics, computers, electronic equipment, and map and schematic reading. They work for power companies and with local electricians.

Training Needed: There are one or two-year programs available, depending on your interest level.


Paired with the Utility Technicians, Electricians help us power our lives. In the field, someone could work as a residential, commercial, or industrial electrician, depending on what type of work you wanted to do.

Training Needed: In order to become an electrician, you would choose to take two-year college courses or join an apprenticeship program. An apprenticeship program will take longer to complete but will focus on on-the-job training with a Master electrician.

CDL Driver

Between drivers and logistics engineers, these professions are responsible for shipping and receiving, getting things from point A to point B. They work together to ensure that the right product is delivered in a timely manner to the people who need it most.

Training needed: CDL drivers have the option of one or two-year programs, with testing administered by the DOT.


Welding is a skill like no other. Part science, part art, and all business. When it comes to industrial work, welders are necessary for almost every shop. Welding is used in more than manufacturing – it’s a necessary skill for farmers, engineers, construction managers, and more.

Training Needed: Welders can earn their Welding Practitioner Diploma or Welding Construction Certificate in 1-2 years, based on the program.

Agriculture Careers

Would you believe that over 11 percent of the nation’s jobs are agriculture-related? Agriculture is responsible for your food, textile resources, and energy conservation – and critical to our nation’s success. Believe it or not, careers in agriculture involve more than farming – they encompass animal science, conservation, farm management, veterinary medicine, and more. Agribusiness careers leverage both business and agriculture knowledge and utilize the supply chain to keep production moving forward.

Training needed: Many ag careers can be completed with a two-year AA degree, although several career paths (like Veterinary Medicine) may involve a more advanced degree.


America was built by people working the skilled trades… and the skilled trades keep America running today. A four-year degree isn’t the ONLY path to success. Learn about these (and many other) skilled trade positions by visiting Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College and Iowa Valley Continuing Education.