Trade Work Is Brain Work

Trade Work Is Brain Work

by Jim Olsztynski | November 17, 2023 | Benefits of Choosing a Career in the Trades Blog Skilled Trades | 0 Comments

My best friend in high school was the son of a plumber. He used to brag about his dad from time to
time, not so much about the father’s ability with tools but his diagnostic skill. Many plumbing problems
originate in hidden locations, like behind a wall. I remember a conversation when my buddy marveled at
his father’s almost supernatural talent for simply gazing at a wall for a while and determining where to
punch a hole to fix whatever was causing the problem. “It’s like he has a sixth sense,” he told me.
Nowadays there are a variety of leak detection devices used by trade workers to detect leaks of water
and air, as well as determine electricity flow. Modern technology makes trade work easier than it used
to be. But the best tools and technology doesn’t eliminate the need to use your noggin in solving

You often hear homeowners complain about a trade worker who charged them a lot of money for a task
that might have taken only a few minutes. What they need to realize is that they aren’t paying for the
act of turning a wrench or screwdriver. They are paying someone with specialized knowledge of which
nut or screw needs attention. (Plus, the expense of dispatching a truck loaded with tools and materials
to the right location.) It’s like visiting a doctor who charges hundreds of dollars for a consultation that
ends with telling you to take a few aspirin and get some rest. You’re paying not only for that brief
encounter, but for the knowledge gained in years of medical school and internship that enables a
physician to correctly (you hope) diagnose what ails you.

It makes me angry when I hear people say that trade work is for people not cut out for college. Dummies
cannot succeed in the skilled trades. Many skilled trade workers may not be able to write fancy term
papers, but it takes a different kind of intelligence to troubleshoot mechanical and electrical systems
and get them working again. It involves logical thinking, sometimes basic math skills and a high
mechanical aptitude.

Do not think for a moment that you do not need to be smart to be a plumber, electrician or HVAC
technician. Intelligence comes in many different forms and not everyone is cut out to be a skilled trade