Physical Traits of Trade Workers

Physical Traits of Trade Workers

by Jim Olsztynski | June 9, 2023 | Benefits of Choosing a Career in the Trades Blog | 0 Comments

Like many of you, I’m a sports fan and in my youth was a fair to middling athlete. Never a star but usually better than half of my teammates.

That’s also a fair description of the physical traits needed to become a skilled trade worker. You don’t have to have a body builder’s physique or the strength of a power lifter, although you must be in decent physical shape to handle the rigors of these jobs. Brute strength is always an advantage, but not a requirement beyond a certain minimum. Today’s workers benefit from a variety of material handling equipment and safety gear that was unavailable generations ago. If you can lift a dead weight of around 50 pounds (most people can) and stand on your feet for several hours at a time, you probably have what it takes. Beyond that, skilled trade workers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and genders.

Being exceptionally tall can be advantageous for certain jobs that involve reaching up to connect components, but being short can be an advantage in other types of jobs that might involve working in crawl spaces or other tight surroundings. Persons who are obese might find it hard to function at a peak for eight hours or more a day, but that goes for most jobs. In fact, skilled trade work involves enough physical activity to help workers stay in decent shape even if they don’t spend hours every week at a health club.

Some physical deficiencies might argue against a trade career. For instance, color blindness could hamper your ability to work with color-coded markings on wire insulation, pipes, blueprints and so on, although there may be work-arounds in certain situations.

The most important traits for skilled trade work have more to do with your mind than body. The best skilled trade workers display excellent critical thinking and communication skills, along with plain old common sense. The old adage about trying to fit square pegs into round holes comes into play on many jobs. You have to be able to recognize when certain components do not go together, and which tools are right for a given job.

Another old adage that applies to skilled trade work is “measure twice, cut once.” Do-overs are a costly waste of money and labor. Before you turn a wrench, cut an object or weld pieces together, always make sure the material, size and positioning are exactly what’s required for the job at hand.