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10 Careers for the Craftsman

Despite the “internet of things” and the mass production of just about everything, some important work still has to be done by hand. The people who do this work are craftsman, and the career opportunities are almost limitless. Here are 10 of the top careers for craftsmen: 

1. Woodworker

Woodworkers create everything from furniture (or even entire houses) to works of art out of wood. Some have home-based shops where they take custom orders from private customers. Others work for manufacturing companies, making things like cabinets or wood flooring. While classes are available through both vocational schools and universities, most woodworkers learn on the job, via apprenticeships with experienced workers.

2. Ironworker

Ironworkers use iron to build everything from buildings and bridges to amazingly delicate pieces of art. Structural ironworkers usually work on large construction sites with many other workers. Reinforcing ironworkers use things like cables and rebar to strengthen structures. Ironworkers in the rigging and machinery sector move, install, and operate machinery like giant cranes and derricks. Some ornamental iron workers build things like window frames and staircases, while others create intricate works of art. Like woodworkers, most ironworkers learn through apprenticeships.

3. Pastry chef

From wedding cakes to sugar sculptures to chocolatey works of art, pastry chefs use food to create desserts that look as good as they taste. Talented pastry chefs collect “oohs and ahs” long before the first bite is taken. Some are self-employed, while others work for caterers, restaurants, or even hotels (think of the elaborate dessert buffets in Las Vegas). Most complete a degree from a culinary school and then further their training through an apprenticeship.

4. Glazier

Glaziers select, cut, install, repair, and remove glass in all kinds of environments, from private residences to giant commercial buildings. The projects themselves can range from replacing a window broken by an errant baseball to designing and installing a decorative skylight for a hospital lobby. They usually do some of the work in a shop and the rest onsite. As with many other trades, training takes place through apprenticeships.

5. Mason

Masons lay brick, concrete block, and stone, sometimes on vertical surfaces like walls for a house and sometimes on flat surfaces like walkways. Sometimes they design the plans themselves, and sometimes they follow blueprints. Some are self-employed, while others work in factories, steel mills, oil refineries, glass furnaces, etc. While many trade schools offer one-year programs in masonry, most learn on the job through apprenticeships.

6. Tile/marble setter

Tile and marble setters are similar to masons in that they apply tile and marble to floors, walls, and other surfaces. Many work for themselves as private contractors. Others work for commercial contractors on huge construction sites. Training is through apprenticeship.

7. Sheet metal worker

Sheet metal workers construct things like pipes and ductwork from thin sheets of metal. Most work full time in factories or shops and/or construction sites, and the work tends to be physically demanding. Training is through apprenticeship.

8. Carpenter


Carpenters build, install, and repair wooden structures like doorframes, stairways, and rafters. Some install siding and drywall. Many carpenters are self-employed, while others work for larger contractors or in a corporation’s facilities maintenance department. Training is through apprenticeship.

9. Home remodeler

Many home remodelers renovate and update homes to enhance the owners’ enjoyment and investment value. Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most common projects, and can include working with everything from flooring to wall coverings to cabinets and appliances. Many are self-employed, although some work for larger contracting companies. Training is through apprenticeship.

10. Landscaper

Landscapers do for outdoor spaces what home remodelers do for indoor spaces. While some specialize in maintenance tasks like mowing and weeding, many others are landscape architects, designing gardens and other outdoor areas for private homes, governmental buildings, parks, hospitals, commercial buildings, etc. The work is physically intense and takes place mostly outdoors. Hours can be long during the spring and summer growing seasons. Training is self-taught or on the job.

If you dread the idea of an office job and love working with your hands, look into one of these 10 careers for the craftsman.

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