High demand for women in trades

May 11, 2012

If the skyrocketing cost of a college degree seems intimidating, you might want to consider the skilled trades as an alternative – especially if you’re female.

That was the message at the Washington Women in Trades annual career fair at Seattle Center, where dozens of employers aimed to recruit young women, enticing them with the chance to try their hand as a carpenter, painter or steelworker.

Nettie Dokes manages metering electricians for Seattle City Light. She's also served as treasurer for Washington Women in Trades for years and says there are many advantages to these fields -- starting with the affordability of training programs, where you can earn as you learn.

"You know in college now, you may end up with a $40- or $50-thousand  dollar bill," Dokes says. "This way, you may end up with a $40- or $50-thousand dollar bank account and a trade that you can use. And no matter what the economy does, up and down, you're always going to need a plumber. A physical person to come out and do that body of work.  A roofer, an electrician, a line worker."

Dokes says City Light will have lots of openings as mass numbers of baby boomers have already begun to retire.

And women are always in high demand for apprenticeships that have affirmative action quotas.

Skilled trades work is very physical, but can also be intellectually challenging, with lots of math and physics part of the curriculum.

The Washington Women in Trades career fair has been taking place every year, since the late 1970s.