A Quick Guide to Starting a Promising Career in the Skilled Trades

If you’re looking to work with your hands, develop an in-demand skill set, make competitive wages, and enjoy relative job security, a career in the skilled trades is perhaps the top option. Skilled trades, like plumber, electrician, mechanic, machinist, and carpenter, involve manual labor but rise above the level of simple manual labor. They are true crafts. Anyone at any age can begin a rewarding career in one of dozens of skilled trade fields. Here’s how to get a good start.

Is a skilled trade right for you? 

Traditionally, the career question has been framed like this: do you want to get a degree at a four-year college or university, or just enter the job market and work your way toward success? This is a bit simplistic. In fact, another option exists and it is working toward a skilled trade. Sure, education studies have long said that having a four-year degree boosts your overall lifetime income significantly. But this fails to factor in debt and the fact that skilled traders make a lot more than unskilled laborers.

As one trade college notes, when you factor in that trade schools are typically only two years and a bit less expensive that traditional college, “trade school grads can be more than $140,000 ahead from the start, making up for more than 12 years of difference in income.” So if you want to kick off your career as soon as possible and you love working with your hands, pursuing a skilled trade is a wonderful decision.

How much money can I make?

That’s a tough question. It depends on your location, skill level, specific trade path, and years of experience. Eventually, you will be skilled and experienced enough to make a top-tier salary. As HomeAdvisor.com notes in their primer on hiring for contracting companies, a significantly higher wage must be paid to higher skilled workers.

But starting salaries among many popular skilled trades can be much higher than starting jobs for those coming out of a four-year college, For example, an airplane mechanic, electrician, and pipe fitter can make $49,000, $44,000, and $49,000, respectively. Even more skilled trades like elevator installer and locomotive repair can even net close to $70,000. Those wages will increase over time, as you gain experience.

How to Get Started

The first step in getting started in a skilled trade is to receive a High School diploma or your GED. This is vital for any skilled trade position. Next, your options branch a bit. Many opt for direct apprenticeships if they can be found – on-the-job training without first attending a trade school. Some companies will cover some costs of education to employees. You could also just head straight for a trade school, which will boost your chances of landing a quality apprenticeship when you graduate. Either path will require a couple of years of schooling and a handful of years in apprenticeship – it just depends on how you want to go about it. Check here for some more tips on pathways to tradesmanship.

Compared to many jobs, skilled trades are less likely to disappear. Automation can’t replace a good plumber, and you can’t really outsource your electrician, for example. Combine that job security with the highest wages among non-four-year-degree-jobs, and you can see why many – from millennials to those rethinking their career mid-life – are taking a serious look at skilled trades.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Adverse Possession – What Has Your Neighbor Been Up To?

Joshua Lee Smith – In Massachusetts, a party claiming title to land through adverse possession must establish actual, open, exclusive and non-permissive use of such land for a continuous period of at least 20 years. The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently held in 1148 Davol Street LLC v. Mechanic’s Mill One, that a cause of action for adverse possession against a private party can begin during prior ownership of the land by The Commonwealth of Massachusetts or a city or town.

The city of Fall River was the record owner of a certain parcel of land (the “Mechanic’s Mill Property”) from 1975 until 1989, when the city sold the Mechanic’s Mill Property to a private party. The Mechanic’s Mill Property was subsequently sold to the named defendant. In 1975, the owners of property adjacent to the Mechanic’s Mill Property (the “Adjacent Property”) began to use an approximately 25,000 square foot strip of land on the Mechanic’s Mill Property along the boundary of the two properties. The Adjacent Property was sold to the named plaintiff in 2007, and in 2008, the plaintiff brought suit against the defendant over the ownership of the strip.

The parties agreed that the plaintiff satisfied the elements of an adverse possession claim for a continuous 32-year period from 1975 to 2007. Therefore, the sole issue before the Court was whether the plaintiff could count the time during which title to the Mechanic’s Mill Property was held by the city toward the requisite 20-year period of adverse use.

The Court recognized that under the common law, a party claiming adverse possession could not count the time title to the land was held by the Commonwealth or a city or town towards the applicable limitations period as adverse possession cannot be claimed against a governmental entity as to public land. However, Massachusetts has explicitly departed from the common law rule by adopting M.G.L. c 260, § 31 (“Section 31”). Section 31 provides a 20-year statute of limitations period for actions for the recovery of land commenced by or on behalf of the Commonwealth. The defendant argued that the exceptions to the statute of limitations for land held for conservation, open space, parks, recreation, water protection, wildlife protection or other public purpose that were added to Section 31 by amendments indicate an intent by the Legislature that land put to a public purpose could never be subject to adverse possession, and on this basis the limitations period cannot run while the property is held by a public party, which, in this case, would mean that the adverse possession “clock” would not have started until the city transferred the Mechanic’s Mill Property to a private party in 1989.

The Court disagreed, holding that a private record owner of once-public land opposing an adverse possession claim may not invoke Section 31 as a defense. The Court reasoned that while the amendment to Section 31 “undeniably added broad protections allowing the Commonwealth and its subdivisions to recover land held for public purposes, nothing in the statute evinces an intent that such protections also benefit a subsequent private owner.” Moreover, the public policy reasons for adding the broad public purpose language to Section 31 are indicative of an intent to protect land that benefits the general public, and allowing a private party to “take advantage of a law clearly designed to benefit the [Commonwealth] would be inapposite to the purpose of that law.”

Owners and purchasers of real property should always carefully review claims and potential claims of adverse possession. This decision makes clear that any such claims cannot be defended on the basis that the property was once owned by a public entity. In general, property owners interested in avoiding claims of adverse possession should consider registering the property with the Land Court, erecting no trespassing signs or a fence or posting a Notice to Prevent Acquisition of Easement pursuant to M.G.L. c. 187, §§ 3 and 4 (with respect to prescriptive easements). Doing nothing and relying on the love of thy neighbor won’t help to protect your land.

A Manufacturing Renaissance? – By Senator Richard T. Moore

moore“The story of the factories of the Bay State is a narrative of an astonishing concentration of human endeavor.

“In quantity no less than in value do the manufactures of Massachusetts amaze. A boot, shoe, or slipper for every human foot in the United States; more cotton goods than the whole world produced when John Adams was President; enough hosiery to cover 40,000 miles of feet and legs; sufficient woolen goods to put a twenty-foot bandage around the waist of Mother Earth – these are some of the yardsticks that measure the annual activities of this beehive of industry.

“Of course, when one thinks of Massachusetts industry, the manufacture of textiles comes immediately to mind.

“Think of twelve million flying spindles converting fiber into yearn and thread, each of them dancing around its own axis at rates varying from 5,000 to 10,000 turns a minute. Placed end to end, these dancing dervishes of the textile industry would reach from Montreal, Canada to Memphis, Tennessee.

“Then, there are the looms, a quarter of a million of them. Put these cloth making machines together, end to end, with no aisles in between them, and the weaving shed required to house them would begin in Boston, Mass., and end in Wilmington, Delaware. Every third spindle and loom in the United States is humming away in the cities and towns of the Bay State.”

Excerpt from “Massachusetts – Beehive of Business,”
Published in The National Geographic Magazine, March, 1920

Nearly a century ago, Massachusetts was among the national leaders in manufacturing. As the “Birthplace of America’s Industrial Revolution,” it’s not surprising that the Bay State was such a Mecca of business and industry.
Then, about fifty years ago, the effects of the Great Depression and another World War, and competition from lower wage states, and, ultimately, foreign countries took its toll. The hours were long; the labor was often hard and physical or boring piece work. Parents wanted better for their children, and children wanted better for themselves.

Massachusetts, known since colonial times as a place where education was valued, began to promote a college education and scholarly pursuits. The professions – largely service in method – became the goal of most educated young people. Technology replaced much of the traditional manufacturing, and office buildings replaced workshops. Technology also dramatically reduced the need for large numbers of workers doing repetitive functions. The economy shifted to an innovation economy where brains took over for brawn.

Manufacturing known today as “advanced manufacturing technology” needs fewer workers and more innovative thinkers. Massachusetts now boasts an innovation economy, and manufacturing of lasers, robotic, fiber-optics has replaced textiles and shoes. The jobs are usually clean – almost like laboratories – and the pay is substantially better.

Despite the growth of first-class regional vocational technical high schools like Blackstone Valley, Bay Path, and Worcester, there are not enough skilled workers to supply the new advanced manufacturing facilities. It is estimated that 190,000 skilled jobs go unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. Our educational system continues to produce, and parents continue to demand education for the professions despite the over-supply of lawyers, accountants, and others.

However, a “new industrial revolution” is beginning. Policymakers and educational leaders are finally working together with advanced manufacturing entrepreneurs to focus on the need for a skilled workforce to meet the needs of advanced manufacturing. The Legislature has established a “Manufacturing Caucus,” focused on listening to the needs of industry and on shifting public policy priorities to support this burgeoning sector. The state’s higher education leadership is developing a shared effort among community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts to develop training centers that offer college level technical courses to educate the new advanced manufacturing workforce.

Recently, a manufacturing roundtable of business, government, and education leaders held meetings in Southbridge, at the Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, and at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin. Another is planned in Sturbridge in the coming weeks. We have some catching up to do, but the will and the means are present.

Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, is the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Massachusetts Senate. He is also the Senate Chairman of the Legislature’s new Manufacturing Caucus. He represents fourteen towns in South Central Massachusetts that were the “Birthplace of America’s Industrial Revolution.”


Sean Riley, Director of External Affairs Office of Senator Richard T. Moore
(W) 617-722-1420
(C) 508-572-1433

BVCC Sustainable Business Award Winner – Boston Bumper Supply, Inc.

Boston Bumper Supply won the Sustainable Business Award at the BVCC 35th Annual Meeting. Why?
Tim Lewis wins the BVCC Sustainable Business award at 35th Annual BVCC meeting.

Tim Lewis wins the BVCC Sustainable Business award at 35th Annual BVCC meeting.

We know of no other business owner who has built a company based on one hundred percent recycling, outgrew his facilities twice in four years, and saved the community two and a half acres of landfill space in the process. Today Boston Bumper is the largest independent bumper recycler in all of New England – serving wholesale distributors and body shops stretching from Maine to Maryland.

Boston Bumper’s 100 percent recycling program goes full circle and benefits the community all along the way. Damaged bumpers, collected from local body shops, are saved from landfill disposal. 30 percent are deemed repairable and placed into inventory — with customers realizing a 50 percent savings over the cost of a new bumper. The remainder are donated to the Blackstone Valley Recycling Center where they are sold for scrap to be reprocessed into other commodities; monies earned from this endeavor are given back to the community.
At last count of record, (2009-2011) the company had recycled more than 44,000 bumpers. But, it doesn’t stop there. As an auto body school graduate with 20 years in the industry, Tim also donates his time, materials, and expertise to teach advanced repair technologies at vocational schools throughout the state.

Boston Bumper Supply reconditions factory bumper covers. With skilled technicians using tried and tested procedures the end result is a quality bumper cover that is ready to be painted. They use only the highest quality products available to repair their bumpers . Their experienced professionals can quickly identify and price bumper covers using bumper identification software.

Boston Bumper Supply has thousands of bumper covers in their inventory with new bumper covers coming in every day. At Boston Bumper Supply you can view which bumper covers they have in stock. The website inventory is updated daily and they offer free daily shipping within the Boston, Metro West and Providence R.I. areas. Shipping arrangements are also available for anywhere within the U.S. thru one of their distributors.

We congratulate Tim Lewis for this wonderful achievement and his contribution to the community.

5 Credit Issues You Can Easily Avoid

Ever been in a retail establishment, perhaps an upscale boutique or a restaurant, where cash was simply no good? Especially for mature Americans who grew up believing in the atmmachinestrength of the “greenback,” that experience can be a little disconcerting. And yet that’s the way of the world. In today’s society, you need credit…and your credit rating is very much an index that important parties use to decide whether you can be trusted.
Here are five pitfalls which cause millions of people financial hardship, especially old Americans.

We use Too Much Credit!

People who build effective wealth strategies know that credit is a tool. Just like a carpenter doesn’t use a circular saw to start his car, so savvy spenders shouldn’t pile up credit card debt covering daily living expenses. A good rule is to never use more than 35 percent of your available credit and don’t rack up amounts you can’t pay off at the end of the month.

We Use Too Little Credit!

You need a credit rating to buy a car, get a mortgage, or qualify for discounts on home or auto coverage. Once again, your credit rating is used as an index by which important parties decide whether you can be trusted.

We Co-Sign!

If you co-sign for a loan and the primary borrower is tardy making payments or defaults altogether, your own credit rating will take a beating. You, the co-signer, are responsible. Do NOT co-sign for anybody.

We Drown in Student Loans!

Consider this – -Americans owe between $902 BILLION and $1 TRILLION in student loan debt. Student loans are very serious! Before you take on debt to pay for higher education, ask a professional about alternatives.

We Don’t Check Our Credit!

Identity theft is an industry, and banks make mistakes – two legitimate reasons to carefully monitor your credit report. A little vigilance can save you major headaches.

Consider this: our expertise lies in the accumulation of meaningful wealth – – using credit, investment, insurance, and tax strategies. Take a responsible step. Call us!

Girard Financial Group

7 S. Main Street
PO Box 679
Millbury, MA 01527
Fax: 508-635-6846

Sources: (1) Detweiler, Gerri. “Five Credit Mistakes Older Americans Make” Credit.com. Sept. 4, 2013. (2) “Student Loan Debt Statistics” American Student Assistance. ASA.org. September 4, 2013.