Why Hands-on Jobs Can Be the Most Rewarding

Hands-on jobs offer favorable job prospects, substantial salaries, and high job satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

  • Riding Difficult Times: During economic instability and layoffs, skilled, hands-on jobs offer a reliable career path.
  • Job Satisfaction and Good Pay: Hands-on jobs provide high job satisfaction and competitive pay.
  • Acquiring Skills: Developing the appropriate skills is crucial for securing and excelling in rewarding hands-on occupations.
Hands-on jobs offer favorable job prospects, substantial salaries, and high job satisfaction.

The current state of the job market is one of severe volatility and churn, mostly due to factors like inflation, high interest rates, and increasing use of generative AI. As a result, while there’s tremendous demand in sectors like communications, marketing, and manufacturing, the labor market has cooled off in the tech sector, electronics, and even electric vehicles. 

With job openings in the US falling to nearly a three-year low in November last year, even the most optimistic outlooks for 2024 indicate moderate hiring demand at best. 

Here are some statistics to put things in context:

  • Monthly job loss numbers are concerning: In April 2024, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs in the US stood at 3.24 million. That number was 2.64 million in April 2023. 
  • The tech industry is hard-hit: Layoffs are likely to continue at some tech companies like Google, Tesla, and Apple, with 84% of IT business leaders saying they are concerned about a recession in 2024.
  • Declining employee satisfaction: Employee satisfaction fell through the roof in the last quarter of 2023, resulting in the lowest overall average eNPS (a metric that assesses employee satisfaction) score in four years.

While the overall job market outlook may be depressing, there are enough silver linings to make it worthwhile for an adaptable workforce. That’s where we come to the subject of hands-on jobs. 

Jobs in trades like technicians, electrical services, automotive repairs, and mechanical fields present promising routes to professional success in tough times. These careers offer favorable job prospects, substantial salaries, and high job satisfaction

Let’s explore why these professions might be the key to a more stable and satisfying career path.

a computer screen
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What are Hands-on Jobs?

Hands-on jobs, also known as skilled trades, involve physical work and practical skills to maintain, repair, and create tangible products and systems. These professions are essential for the functioning of various industries and everyday lives. 

  • Maintenance and repair technicians, for instance, fix and maintain a wide range of equipment - from household appliances to industrial machines. They diagnose issues, replace faulty parts, and ensure devices operate efficiently.
  • Automobile mechanics specialize in repairing and maintaining vehicles, performing tasks that range from routine maintenance work like oil changes and brake inspections to complex engine repairs and electronic system diagnostics. 
  • System mechanics work on larger mechanical systems such as HVAC units and industrial machinery to ensure they run smoothly and efficiently through regular maintenance and emergency repairs. 
  • Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems in homes, businesses, and industrial settings. They are skilled at tasks like wiring, troubleshooting, and ensuring electrical systems are up to code. 

These are just a few examples of hands-on jobs that offer stable career paths with opportunities for specialization and advancement.

What Makes Hands-on Jobs Rewarding?

Hands-on jobs provide a sense of fulfillment and tangible impact that many other careers lack. They also offer distinct benefits that make them exceptionally rewarding. 

These roles are particularly satisfying due to three main factors: competitive compensation, high job satisfaction, and a balanced work-life experience.

1. High Demand and Compensation

When considering the financial aspect, hands-on jobs often offer competitive wages. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), installation, maintenance, and repair occupations encompass workers who set up, take care of, and fix various goods and equipment. Overall employment in these occupations is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2022 to 2032. 

Approximately 582,100 openings are projected each year, on average, in these fields due to employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave these occupations permanently. The median annual wage for this group was $53,920 in May 2023, higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which stood at $48,060.

The above figures highlight the high demand and financial viability of hands-on jobs across industries like aviation, automotive, renewable energy, and healthcare, among others. 

Let’s look at a few numbers from these industries:

  • The US manufacturing and construction sectors face a hiring crunch for skilled workers such as carpenters, electricians, welders, and plumbers. According to McKinsey, annual hiring in the US for critical roles could be more than 20 times the projected annual increase in net new jobs from 2022 to 2032.
  • There is an equally growing demand for skilled, hands-on aviation workers. According to one estimate, 402,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians will be needed over the next ten years. 
  • Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 2% from 2022 to 2032.
  • Compensation in the energy sector is typically higher than for similar occupations in the broader economy. For instance, solar PV installers earn around 15% more than general roofers and 40% more than telecommunication installers, even though all these occupations require comparable skills.

These statistics highlight the increasing demand and above-average compensation for workers in hands-on jobs, even during challenging economic conditions.

solar panels

2. Satisfaction at Work

Trade skills offer a direct path to a career aligned with your strengths and passions. That eliminates the need to settle for jobs outside your field of interest. The flexibility of trade work and the competitive salaries, benefits, and entrepreneurship opportunities they offer make these roles highly attractive. 

This is particularly significant as job satisfaction is a high priority for the current workforce. According to a 2024 Deloitte survey, most Gen Zs (86%) and millennials (89%) consider having a sense of purpose in their work crucial for their overall job satisfaction and well-being.

Skilled trades stand out not just for their high job satisfaction but also for the numerous job openings and resilience to automation. Angi's Skilled Trades Report 2024 indicates that nearly 90% of surveyed tradespeople are very or somewhat satisfied with their current profession

This stands in contrast to certain other lines of work where extended work hours and persistent screen time are commonplace. In contrast, hands-on trade jobs offer a dynamic work environment with opportunities for social interaction that is often lacking in remote roles.

a person in a meeting

3. Work-life Balance

Employees today are increasingly seeking jobs that fit their lives rather than the other way around

According to a Randstad survey, more than half (61%) of respondents would not accept a position that is detrimental to their work-life balance. This sentiment is further supported by a 2022 survey in the US which found that being overworked was the most common cause of work-related stress, followed by a lack of work-life balance.

Hands-on occupations provide an easy solution to this issue. These jobs often involve rotational shifts or contract-based work with flexible hours. Unlike many desk jobs, these roles have fixed timings that allow workers to plan better and prioritize their personal lives. What’s more, since these workers are not constantly connected via digital tools, they can truly disconnect from work once their shift ends.

This balance between work and personal life leads to higher job satisfaction and overall well-being.

a laptop and mug

Securing a Hands-On Job: Training, Certifications, and Experience

Getting a hands-on job requires dedication, training, and experience. Here is how you can follow the path towards a highly rewarding career:

Training and Education

This is what lays the foundation of your career as a hands-on professional. 

  • Trade Schools: Consider attending a trade school to learn specific skills related to your desired hands-on job. These schools offer focused training programs that can prepare you for a career in fields like carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work, among others.
  • Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training while paying a wage. This hands-on learning approach allows you to gain valuable experience and industry-specific skills.
  • Community Colleges: Community colleges often offer programs and courses in various trades. These programs can provide a solid foundation while helping you on the way to further specialization.
  • Industry Certifications: Many hands-on jobs require industry certifications that validate your competence and commitment to the profession. Make sure to research the certifications relevant to your desired field and work towards obtaining them.

Gaining Experience

Once you’re through with education and training, it’s time to get the right experience that makes you employable.  

  • Internships: Seek out internships in your desired field. This can provide valuable hands-on experience and may lead to full-time employment.
  • Volunteer Work: Consider volunteering for organizations or projects that align with your career goals. It helps you build relevant skills and network with industry professionals.
  • Part-Time Work: Consider taking on part-time work in your desired field if possible. This can help you gain valuable experience while pursuing your education or training.

Online Courses and Resources

Make sure to supplement your knowledge and skills with easily accessible online courses and resources. 

  • Online Courses: Many websites and platforms offer online courses in various trades and skills. They can be a convenient way to learn new skills or enhance existing ones. 
  • YouTube Tutorials: YouTube is a valuable resource for learning practical skills. Many channels offer tutorials on everything from carpentry to automotive repair.
  • Industry Publications: Read industry publications and websites and stay updated with industry trends and best practices. This will help you stay competitive in your field.


Finally, we come to growing your exposure to peers, industry leaders, and experts in your particular field. 

  • Join Trade Organizations: Consider joining trade organizations related to your field. These organizations often offer a wealth of networking opportunities, job listings, and professional development resources.

Attend Industry Events: Attend trade shows, conferences, and workshops related to your trade. These events help you connect with industry professionals, learn about new developments, and secure job referrals.

Get Ready for a Hands-On Trade Job with Unmudl

Unmudl is a unique Skills-to-Jobs ® platform with courses that prepare you for rewarding hands-on jobs. Our comprehensive selection of skills training and certification programs improves your employability and gives you access to an exclusive employer network. 

Our courses designed in collaboration with industry leaders open doors to remarkable career opportunities in exciting new fields like mechatronics and control systems.  

Get in touch with us to learn more or get started today with a free trial. 

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Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Last updated on:
June 5, 2024

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