The Truth About Ditching the Desk for a Blue-Collar Job
If your desk job is starting to feel draining or stressful, like Billy’s, maybe it’s time to swap white-collar work for a blue-collar job. Here’s why.
Meet Billy, a mature aged carpentry apprentice who decided it was time for a change. After seven years pursuing a white-collar career as a work cover case manager, Billy followed his passion for trade work and hasn’t looked back since. Through a labouring apprenticeship, Billy was able to transition into his dream trade: carpentry.
“I feel a lot better about the work that I’m doing. At the end of the day, I actually feel like I’ve accomplished something, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done.”
Many people choose to leave the confines of the desk and stressful paper deadlines for the freedom to work with their hands and achieve tangible results. With mature-aged apprenticeships and training opportunities available, age and prior experience are no longer barriers to making this exciting career shift.
We spoke to Billy about what his transition from a desk job to blue-collar work was like — and why it might be just the answer you’ve been looking for.
Why it’s time to make the change
Billy was feeling the negative impact an unfulfilling white-collar job was having on his mental health. This pushed him to decide to leave his position as a work cover case manager.
“It was a very stressful position. It was probably something I should have never really gotten into. I was never well suited to it.”
“The pressure of the volume of the work, I just couldn’t keep up with it…I had to be honest with myself and say, ‘This has been going on for a long time in different positions, in different companies. So, it’s clearly me that’s the issue. It’s not the right field for me anymore.'”
After leaving his job as a casework manager, Billy began applying for other positions in related fields. During this time, he realised it was time to direct his efforts towards roles that would actually make him happy.
“In the end, I was like ‘Well, I may as well use this as an opportunity to chase something that I actually want to do, rather than chasing a job just for the money”.
Choosing your blue-collar career
For some, trade knowledge is inherently part of their skill set. Maybe your parents dragged you into helping to fix up things around the house when you were a child. Maybe you took woodwork in school, or maybe you’ve always had an affinity for tinkering and fixing. Whatever the reason, it’s important you choose a blue-collar pathway that will bring you the most satisfaction and joy.
For Billy, this was carpentry.
“As an adult, I’ve enjoyed working with my hands. Just little things like building fences at home and fixing up cupboards, I just wanted to keep learning more.”
“I just found doing little odd jobs around the home, and watching the construction process during my (home’s) renovation I was like, ‘well, that’s something I could do and enjoy.'”
To work in most trades, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship. This will give you paid on-the-job training and a support system to see you through to becoming a licensed trade professional. Many professionals making this career shift will complete a pre-apprenticeship to brush up on all the basic skills and knowledge required to feel confident and ready.
Billy chose to complete a pre-apprenticeship in labouring, which allowed him to land a mature-aged carpentry apprenticeship successfully.
“The intention was always to get a position in carpentry. Labouring as a way to introduce myself and show mobilities and work ethic and things like that, in a way that didn’t amount to a commitment on the employer’s part. And, that worked out very well.”
More blue-collar career pathways
Being a newbie
It’s important to remember that moving into a completely new industry means that you’re starting again. This can be daunting and frustrating. But don’t let this put you off.
“You gotta find that balance of having some experience in the world and understanding that you’re starting at 0.”
Transitioning into blue-collar work means combining your years of experience in the workforce with actively learning completely new skills. You will most likely take a salary cut, and like Billy says:
“Everyone is at 0 until they’ve proven themselves and done some time.”
“It’s very rare that there’s any stress. I don’t feel any particular stress that I don’t feel like I can deal with, that I can’t manage.”
Billy now knows and feels the difference between stressful versus challenging work and how one keeps him excited to work while the other left him unhappy.
“There are times when it’s really hard. You’re covered in sweat and dirt and coughing up dust. But, even still, I’m still quite happy doing it again. I enjoy the labour side of the job. I enjoy the learning and taking on new skills. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed when I was very young.”
Blue-collar work is more physically demanding than its white-collar counterpart and may leave you sore and tired at the end of the day. However, for some, the fulfilment they receive from a hard day’s work is a healthier alternative to the stress they feel behind a desk.
“For the most part, I enjoy the doing of the work.”
If this sounds like you, it’s time to make the change.
Don’t let your white-collar background deter you from jumping into a hands-on, active career. If you’re feeling drained and unmotivated, or you’re just ready for the next adventure that can offer you more, it’s time to consider your blue-collar options.
Begin your fresh start today.
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