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Practical Careers for Practical People

middle aged man fixing a car

Practical Careers for Practical People: Image Credit: Pexels

When you are at school, teachers tend to tell you that the academic subjects will be the most important for getting a job. While they aren’t necessarily wrong, this does put the more practical among us in an awkward position.

Not being good at English and Maths doesn’t mean that you can’t have an amazing career in front of you. If you are interested in a more practical career, there are plenty of options available to you and lots of ways to build on the skills you are passionate about. The reality is that the world probably has more than enough IT managers and social media strategists to be getting on with. You can bring a whole new set of skills to the job market and do a lot of good as well.

Let’s take a look at just a few options.


Mechanic jobs are ideal for practical people, especially if you are a fan of taking things apart and putting them back together. Understanding how things work is essential for any mechanic and the kind of out-of-the-box that is required for the very best solutions is actually a rare skill to have.

As well as your practical skill set, you will also need to be able to communicate with customers who aren’t as familiar with mechanical problems as you are. You will also need good time-keeping skills to keep up with demand and a desire to continue learning as technology rapidly develops and changes.


Becoming a builder is definitely a labour of love but it is definitely worth it if you enjoy physically demanding work, like being outside and get a real buzz from creating something brand new. Builders need to work for a minimum of 2 years and up to 7 years in some states under the supervision of a licensed builder in order to register as a builder themselves.

Contrary to popular belief, being a builder isn’t just a case of throwing up brick walls. You will also need a clear understanding of building safety standards and regulations. Ensuring that everyone on your site is safe throughout the construction is also essential. Builders tend to work on a variety of construction skills but they may come to specialize if there is a gap in the market to do so.


Tradespeople are often freelance or sole traders but can work within a network of complementary crafts and trades. Tradespeople cover a wide variety of different skills so you will need to pick a speciality that is right for you. Construction work such as bricklaying, plumbing and electrics are well-known trades but don’t exclude other options like boat building, upholstery and locksmithing. There all kinds of apprenticeships available when you start looking!

As a tradesperson, you will need to be able to quote prices including the cost of parts and your labour. A lot of trades might end up hidden behind plasterboard but there is still an important craft going on there that deserves a good fee. Don’t be afraid to charge exactly what you deserve and if someone wants to haggle you down, you can walk away and let someone else deal with the hassle.  


So, technically speaking, you can see baking as a trade but most bakers would probably see themselves as business owners since they require premises and often open cafes too. Baking covers all kinds of different practical skills from making incredible cakes to baking some rustic bread. Finding your particular niche in this industry is all about practice.

You could set up your own business as a baker and gradually expand but there is plenty of opportunities for bakers and other cooking extraordinaires in restaurants, cafes, hotels and catering companies too. Take the time to hone your skills and develop your own recipes while you work. Instagram is absolutely your friend here if you want to go out on your own and people love watching other people make cool cakes.


Again, there is a fair bit of crossover with tradespeople here but crafting includes a wide range of skills from knitting jumpers to creating stunning artworks. Crafting is often a popular side hustle because it is fun, easy to market and you can sell your wares in a variety of place online and locally too.

For creatives who want an outlet but literally can’t find a house big enough to store every creation, becoming a craftsperson is a really good idea. You can take commissions from people or you could simply make what you like and then see how well it sells. But, do remember that when you turn a craft into a business, it has to appeal to an audience, not just you!

A Note on Freelancing

Lots of practical people freelance for one great reason: it’s easier to manage your time and set your prices when you are in charge. Getting started as a freelancer can be quite daunting but once you have the basics in place – what you do, what you charge and how far you are willing to travel – you will settle into the swing of things quite quickly.

While quitting your current job and diving straight in could be a good idea for some people, the great benefit of freelancing is that you can ease into it. Start by twilighting outside your current work hours to get a feel for working for yourself and then gradually increase these hours. Lots of people work part time for a company and part time for themselves so there really is plenty of scope to find the right balance for you.

In a world dominated by IT and marketing, it can feel daunting to think about your future career as a more practical person. But the job market is actually in your favour. Your skills are often harder to come by and come with a higher value as a consequence. Embrace your abilities, refine your skills and hone your craft. You can always hire an accountant and marketing manager to deal with the rest!

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