Trade Descriptions

Construction Classes Midland MI, Saginaw MI, Lansing MI

Browse the Trade Descriptions below to get an idea of what your career in construction can look like!

AVERAGE INCOME: $29.36 hour  /  $61,071 annual

A career as a carpenter is a great choice for people that enjoy building things. Carpenters must have good physical fitness, great hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and a good sense of balance. They must also be able to solve arithmetic problems in an accurate and fast manner.

A carpenter is a skilled worker who is trained to work with wood. Carpenters work in a variety of construction fields – from very large projects such as building bridges to smaller projects like furniture and kitchen cabinets.

Carpenters work mainly in wood but are able to use other materials as well. Some carpenters have many general skills, such as all the skills necessary to build a house, while others focus on one aspect, like building stairs, installing doors, or framing.

Carpenters look at blueprints or get verbal instructions, and then measure and mark out the layout of their project. They then use both hand tools and power tools to cut, shape, and sand wood, joining the wood pieces with glue, staples, nails, or screws. They use tools such as levels and framing squares to measure the accuracy of their work.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Building Materials, Fasteners, and Adhesives
  • Hand and Power Tools
  • Reading Plans and Elevations
  • Floor Systems
  • Wall and Ceiling Framing
  • Roof Framing
  • Windows and Exterior Doors
  • Basic Stair Layout
  • Commercial Drawings
  • Roofing Applications
  • Thermal and Moisture Protection
  • Exterior Finishing
  • Cold-Formed Steel Framing
  • Drywall Installation & Finishing
  • Doors and Door Hardware 
  • Suspended Ceilings
  • Window, Door, Floor, and Ceiling Trim
  • Cabinet Installation
  • Cabinet Fabrication


AVERAGE INCOME: $33.32 hour  /  $69,303 annual

If you’re into sound systems, robotics, or tinkering with wires, you are probably thinking about a career as an electrician. They install and maintain the wiring and control equipment through which electricity flows. Electricians in large factories usually do maintenance work that is more complex.

An electrician is an individual who performs work on electrical systems, including lighting installation, mechanical connections, power supplies, communications, and security systems. He or she may perform electrical work on residences or commercial structures, or may even work on overhead lines and power distribution. While the majority of people who enter this field work in construction, an electrician can also find employment with a manufacturing plant or utility company. 

The path to becoming an electrician starts when an individual enters an apprenticeship program. As an apprentice, the individual will work during the day and attend an apprentice training program at night. After four years, he or she is eligible to take the Journeyman’s Electrical Exam, which is administered by individual states based on principles in the National Electric Code. Upon successful completion of the exam, the individual is certified as a journeyman electrician. 

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Electrical Safety
  • Introduction to Electrical Circuits
  • Electrical Theory
  • Introduction to the National Electrical Code® 
  • Device Boxes
  • Hand Bending
  • Raceways and Fittings
  • Conductors and Cables
  • Basic Electrical Construction Drawings
  • Residential Electric Services
  • Electrical Test Equipment
  • Alternating Current
  • Motors: Theory and Application
  • Electric Lighting
  • Conduit Bending
  • Pull and Junction Boxes
  • Conductor Installations


AVERAGE INCOME: $31.36 hour  /  $65,231 annual

A career as a HVAC Technician is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in the installation, maintenance, and repair of many different heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. HVAC must have a solid understanding of a variety of systems and the ability to perform many different tasks.

HVAC technicians are responsible for installing, adjusting, and performing service on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They provide customer service and support and ensure systems are operating correctly. They read blueprints and prepare spaces for installation of the necessary equipment. They make sure the installation tasks are performed correctly and abide by the necessary regulations. HVAC technicians also inspect existing systems and check each part to ensure efficient and effective function. They repair and replace components and make the required adjustments.

HVAC covers it all: motors, compressors, pumps, fan, thermostats, and computerized switches control systems in residential, commercial, and industrial structures.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Trade Mathematics
  • Copper and Plastic Piping Practices
  • Soldering and Brazing
  • Ferrous Metal Piping Practices
  • Basic Electricity
  • Introduction to Cooling
  • Introduction to Heating
  • Air Distribution Systems
  • Chimneys, Vents and Flues
  • Introduction to Electrical Circuits
  • Electrical Theory
  • Introduction to the NEC® 
  • Device Boxes
  • Hand Bending
  • Raceways and Fittings
  • Conductors and Cables
  • Electrical Test Equipment


AVERAGE INCOME: $37.65 hour  /  $78,320 annual

Are you a problem solver with a knack for small details? Instrumentation may be the perfect craft profession for you. Instrument Fitters and Technicians perform key installation and maintenance functions across several industries. Instrumentation Technicians and Fitters have to be familiar with electrical systems, craft-specific drawings, and must be experts in the hand and power tools specific to their trade.

An Instrumentation Technician generally works on devices that are used in the medical and engineering fields, setting up, testing and operating the equipment. 

Part of the testing of the devices includes communicating the data to engineering workers so that they are better able to make design decisions and evaluate those decisions. The type of equipment tested might include structural, mechanical or electrical equipment. He or she might also develop specifications for equipment according to the test data. 

Testing is an important aspect of the instrumentation technician’s job. For example, he or she might install or tell people how to install a unit in a testing facility, recording the effects of temperature, humidity, altitude, vibration, stress, pressure and acceleration. 

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Electrical Safety
  • Introduction to Electrical Circuits
  • Electrical Theory
  • Introduction to the National Electrical Code® 
  • Device Boxes
  • Hand Bending
  • Raceways and Fittings
  • Conductors and Cables
  • Basic Electrical Construction Drawings
  • Residential Electric Services
  • Electrical Test Equipment
  • Alternating Current
  • Motors: Theory and Application
  • Electric Lighting
  • Conduit Bending
  • Pull and Junction Boxes
  • Conductor Installations


AVERAGE INCOME: $27.59 hour  /  $57,384 annual

Insulation workers cement, staple, wire, tape, or spray insulating material to reduce energy consumption by keeping heat in during the winter and heat out during the summer. Insulators can also be used for sound deadening purposes. They may work on refrigerated storerooms, buildings, vats, tanks, vessels, boilers, and pipes or air ducts.

Mechanical insulation contractors supply and install insulation on any size commercial and industrial project. Most commercial work is completed during the building construction. Industrial insulation work may be done as a plant is constructed, at the time a machine is modified, or during plant operation.

Mechanical insulation contractors usually are subcontractors to a mechanical contractor. They also work with the plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors. 

Many different insulation materials are used with various applications and finishes. Pipe insulation is available in thicknesses from ½ inch through 4 inches and by using multiple layers can attain any thickness required. There are boards, blocks, blankets, and sheets available for ducts and equipment. These are shop prefabricated or field fabricated to fill any job requirement. Insulation may also be finished with many different materials for weatherproofing and/or appearance.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Hand Tools for Instrumentation
  • Electrical Safety
  • Power Tools for Instrumentation
  • Electrical Systems for Instrumentation
  • Metallurgy for Instrumentation Fasteners
  • Instrumentation Drawings and Documents
  • Gaskets and Packing
  • Lubricants, Sealants, and Cleaners
  • Flow, Pressure, Level, and Temperature
  • Tubing
  • Piping – 2” and Under
  • Hoses
  • Craft-Related Mathematics
  • Principles of Welding for Instrumentation 
  • Process Control Theory


AVERAGE INCOME: $30.62 hour  /  $63,680 annual

If you are looking for an exciting career balancing from the top of a brand new skyscraper while using a rivet gun, then ironworking is for you. Ironworkers place and install iron or steel girders, columns, and other construction materials. They must always be paying attention to details to check vertical and horizontal alignment with plumb bobs, laser equipment, transits or levels – then they bolt or weld the piece permanently in place.

Structural ironworkers fabricate, assemble, and install materials made from iron, steel, aluminum and bronze. These materials are used extensively in the construction of highways, bridges, office buildings, power transmission towers, and other large buildings. Reinforcing ironworkers set steel bars or wire fabric into concrete to provide additional strength to buildings, bridges, and other structures. Ironworkers often work in high places so safety is stressed on the job.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Fastening
  • Mobile Construction Cranes
  • Rigging Equipment
  • Oxyfule Cutting
  • Intro to Arc Welding
  • Trade Drawing
  • Forklifts
  • Tower Cranes
  • Survey Equipment Use and Care


AVERAGE INCOME: $33.00 hour  /  $68,640 annual

Do you take things apart and put them back together just to see how they work? Do you always have the right tool for the job? Maybe becoming an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic (IMM) is the right path for you. IMM professionals work on construction sites and in factories assembling and disassembling machinery. This work can involve intricate technical repairs or heavy machining tools, depending on the project. You have to be able to understand manuals for many different types of machines as well as have a high level of problem solving skills.

Industrial Maintenance Mechanics are needed in every industry that uses machinery, from assembly plants to power manufacturers. Not only do mechanics repair and maintain equipment, they also install and dismantle it. Every time a new appliance leaves a factory or a new car rolls off the line, a skilled mechanic played a role in producing it. Wherever there are machines, there will be a need for maintenance craftworkers.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Tools of the Trade
  • Oxyfuel Cutting
  • Gaskets and Packing
  • Craft-Related Mathematics
  • Construction Drawings
  • Pumps and Drivers
  • Intro to Test Instruments
  • Material Handling and Hand Rigging
  • Mobile Support Equipment
  • Intro to Pipping Components
  • Identify, Install and Maintain Valves


AVERAGE INCOME: $27.71 hour  /  $57,646 annual

Masonry is a construction method that uses individual units, like brick and stone, bound together with mortar. It is one of the most durable construction techniques in the world, and it has been popular for centuries. Although it is remarkably durable, masonry does still wear down over time and is often in need of repair or restoration.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Introduction to Masonry
  • Masonry Safety
  • Masonry Tools & Equipment
  • Measurements, Drawings, and Specifications
  • Mortar
  • Masonry Units and Installation Techniques
  • Residential Plans and Drawing Interpretation
  • Residential Masonry
  • Reinforced Masonry
  • Masonry Openings and Metalwork
  • Advanced Laying Techniques
  • Effects of Climate on Masonry
  • Construction Inspection and Quality Control
  • Elevated Masonry
  • Specialized Materials and Techniques
  • Repair and Restoration
  • Commercial Drawings
  • Estimating
  • Site Layout – Distance Measurement and Leveling
  • Stone Masonry
  • Fundamentals of Crew Leadership


AVERAGE INCOME: $32.61 hour  /  $67,824 annual

Are you a little bit of a perfectionist? Do you enjoy reading plans and making something useful? Consider training to become a pipefitter. Pipefitters plan and install detailed pipe systems for commercial and industrial projects. These pipes may carry water, chemicals, or gases to the crucial building systems. Pipefitters use many tools to cut and bend pipes to exact specifications.

Pipefitters install and repair high and low pressure pipe systems used in manufacturing, in generation or electricity, and in heating and cooling buildings. Pipefitters work from blueprints or drawings. They layout the job and perform such tasks as measuring, marketing, cutting and threading pipe to connect pipe systems. The pipefitter’s trade requires formal training to know local ordinances, state codes and regulations regarding their work.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Pipefitting Power Tools and Hand Tools
  • Oxyfuel Cutting
  • Pipefitting Trade Math
  • Threaded Pipe Fabrication
  • Socket Weld Pipe Fabrication
  • Butt Weld Pipe Fabrication
  • Underground Pipe Installation
  • Rigging Equipment and Practices
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Stress Relieving and Aligning
  • Steam Traps
  • Maintaining Valves
  • Intro to Supervisory Roles


AVERAGE INCOME: $35.25 hour  /  $73,320 annual

Are you always tinkering with objects? Do people ask for your help with fixing mechanical things? Consider plumbing. Plumbers do much more than fix sinks and toilets in residential homes. They design and install piping systems that distribute water and remove waste from buildings, connecting to washers, sinks, heating, and cooling systems. Plumbers have to be knowledgeable in the water distribution, blueprint reading, local ordinances and regulations, mathematics, mechanical drawing, physics, welding, and soldering.

Plumbers measure, cut, thread, or bend pipe to required angles using hand, power tools or machines such as pipe cutters, pipe-threading machines, or pipe-bending machines. They study building plans and inspect structures to assess material and equipment needs, to establish the sequence of pipe installations, and to plan installation around obstructions such as electrical wiring.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Plumbing Safety
  • Tools of the Plumbing Trade
  • Plastic Pipe and Fittings
  • Copper Pipe and Fittings
  • Cast-Iron Pipe and Fittings
  • Carbon Steel Pipe and Fittings
  • Windows and Exterior Doors
  • Plumbing Fixtures
  • Drain, Waste and Vent Systems (DWV)
  • Water Distribution Systems
  • Reading Commercial Drawings
  • Installing Fixtures and Valves
  • Installing Water Heaters
  • Hydronic and Solar Heating Systems


AVERAGE INCOME: $29.70 hour  /  $61,776 annual

Are you a visual person? Do you enjoy math, mechanics and fitting puzzles together? Sheet Metal Workers cut and mold sheets of metal into products for installing and repairing ventilation and air ducts. They also construct aluminum siding, metal roofing, and gutters. Most sheet metal fabrication shops are completely computerized, so sheet metal workers may be responsible for programming control systems on various pieces of equipment.

Sheet metal workers make, install, and maintain air-conditioning, heating, ventilation, and pollution control duct systems; roofs, siding, rain gutters and downspouts; skylights, restaurant equipment, outdoor signs; and many other building parts and products made from metal sheets. Training in math and geometry are needed to calculate angles for fabrication and installation of mechanical systems.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Trade Math
  • Installation of Air Distribution Accessories
  • Insulation
  • Architectural Sheet Metal
  • Sheet Metal Duct Fabrication Standards
  • Air Properties and Distribution
  • Fiberglass Duct
  • Air Systems
  • Principles of Air Flow
  • Comprehensive Plan and Specification Reading
  • Intro to Welding, Brazing, and Cutting
  • Introductory Supervisory Skills


AVERAGE INCOME: $35.35 hour  /  $73,531 annual

Do you love playing with fire? Welders join objects together by applying heat or pressure. Skilled welders have a thorough knowledge of welding principals and metals. They use blueprints and drawings to build anything from ships to cars to bridges. Welders are also crucial in maintaining power plants of all types and have the opportunity to travel throughout the year.

Examples of Topics Studied:

  • Welding Safety
  • Oxyfuel Cutting
  • Plasma Arc Cutting
  • Weld Quality
  • Reading Welding Detail Drawings
  • SMAW – Groove Welds with Backing
  • SMAW – Open Root Groove Welds-Plate
  • GMAW and FCAW – Equipment and Filler Metals


Guide To Careers In Construction

Download the GMCA Guide to Careers in Construction iBook to your Apple device today and learn how skilled trades training leads to SUCCESS!

Skilled Trades training has benefited me by opening up opportunities at different companies that wouldn’t even take a second look if I hadn’t had a formal, post-secondary education. It gives me a leg up on anyone who just has a high school diploma.
Adam Emery, Pipefitter & Millwright, GMCA Alumni

Primary Communities Served

Bay City



Oil City

Saginaw Twp.

St. Charles
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