Should Colorado women consider skilled trade careers?

By Audrey Jenkins | Apr 14, 2016

While the unemployment rate in Colorado fell further than anywhere else in the country in 2015, over 37 percent of women still remained outside the workforce. Job openings in skilled trades may provide a solution. The demand for electricians, welders, and HVAC workers is set to grow for the foreseeable future, according forecasts from the Tulsa Welding School. Equally good news is that these careers offer good pay and a variety of job opportunities.


Many general maintenance workers, repair workers, and other skilled tradesmen and women learn their skills at a vocational school. Vocational schools teach courses in electrical work, blueprint reading, welding, plumbing, pipefitting, and other topics. You can learn a bit about multiple trades in order to handle various repairs or you can specialize in a particular trade, such as becoming a welder or an electrician.

Trade school can be shorter than college and much more affordable as well. While a bachelor's degree on average costs well over $100,000, you can obtain a trade school certificate in less than half the time for as little as $33,000. There are also various grant, scholarship, and other funding options specifically for women who want to obtain a skilled trade degree but have limited financial resources.

Job opportunities

There are several specializations to choose from in the skilled trades, and each field offers opportunities for advancement. An entry-level welder, for instance, can with time and additional education and experience eventually become a welding inspector or welding engineer. An HVAC technician can climb the ladder to become an operations manager or distribution manager, while an electrician can become a project engineer or project manager. Alternatively, many skilled trade workers opt to eventually leave traditional employment and start their own businesses.

Colorado offers excellent job opportunities for women of all ages and walks of life. Lockheed Martin Space Systems and TerumoBCT are not just large manufacturing plants but also on the list of the top 20 employers in the state. Hospitals account for seven of the top 25 employers, and it is not uncommon for general repair and maintenance workers to work full-time in a hospital setting.

Green energy jobs are also on the rise in this state. Colorado is one of the top 10 creators of new clean energy jobs in the United States. Many of these jobs are in the wind power industry, where welders and electricians often find work.


Average annual pay will naturally depend on your job description and the industry you work for. However, women who work in a skilled trade may get a higher salary than women who choose traditionally female-dominated fields, such as childcare and accounting. Electricians earn a mean annual wage of $54,520, welders earn a mean annual wage of $40,040, and HVAC technicians earn a mean annual wage of $46,880. Childcare workers, accountants, and administrative assistants, on the other hand, earn a mean annual wage ranging from $21,710 to $38,070.

Personal and financial fulfillment

If you live in Colorado and are looking for a career that you can train for relatively quickly and that offers plenty of job opportunities and good pay, it may be wise to consider a skilled trade. Nearly 9 percent of all workers in the construction industry are women and, as many have found, careers in the trades can not only be profitable but also personally fulfilling.

Audrey Jenkins a freelance writer currently working with Reach her at