When you start out in a trade, you’ll probably do most of your learning as part of your job and many experienced tradies would agree that there is no substitute for that sort of experience. However, there will come a time when you want to be able to show that you have the skills and experience you’ve picked up, and that’s where certification comes in.
Tradies and certified/licensed tradies are different types of workers. A tradie is someone who works in and has experience of working in a skilled profession – for our purposes we’re talking about someone who works in building and construction. Certified and licensed tradies are those who have completed TAFE or RTO training in their specific trade and have been awarded certification to show their level of competence. Certification requires the worker to pass all the required tests and to have a minimum level of experience.
If you want to work as a tradie, it really is a massive benefit to get certified. All the Australian states and territories have their own specific regulations for registration and licensing. In some states you need to have a licence before you can work; others allow you to work if you are registered with an approved building contractor and will be undertaking your work supervised by them.
If you get your own licence, that means that you can run your own business without being beholden to any third parties, not only allowing you to pick and choose when and where you want to work but also, obviously, keeping 100% of the profits of your work for yourself.
Benefits of certification
You will be legal
It can be against the law to undertake your trade without proper licensing. If you break these laws you could be fined a substantial amount, banned from ever acquiring a licence, and if you put lives at risk or somebody gets hurt because of you working unlicensed you could even face jail time.
Boosting your income
On average, tradies who have building/construction certificates and more money than those who don’t. It doesn’t matter what trade you have chosen to work in, you will enjoy a higher income if you have certification.
It’ll be easier to get a license
It can’t be overstated what a great help having a licence to practise your trade is. The vast majority of customers nowadays will expect a tradie to be licensed and will either demand that you produce evidence of your licence before you start work or will look you up online to check. If you don’t have a licence, a huge part of your potential market is closed off to you; if you do have a license, you will put yourself in a strong position ahead of all the unlicensed workers.
If you want to get a builders’ license in Victoria, you have to satisfy these criteria:
– Have worked a minimum of three years of full-time experience in the area in which you wish to be licensed (such as domestic building, commercial building, etc);
– Have proof of the above experience;
– Pass a written exam and/or complete a successful interview;
– Prove your knowledge of all applicable national building codes.
Although you could get your licence and pass all the required tests just on your experience, certification makes it much easier. Getting your building and construction certification guarantees for you and your customers that you have the right knowledge for your trade.
You can get insurance
Tradesman insurance (sometimes called sole trader insurance or tradie insurance) can only be acquired if you have a trades licence. The majority of customers will demand to see proof of tradesmen liability insurance to make sure that they won’t end up paying for any damages or losses that might arise from your work. Additionally, you might want to get tradies tool insurance to protect your business assets.
You’ll get credibility
Getting certification will allow you to build up your trade knowledge in a carefully designed program that will make sure that you get all the skills and practice you need. Rather than having to train for years, you can show that you have the right knowledge, get your license, and go on to improve your skills and your business.
Demonstrates work ethic
Having certification demonstrates that you have the right work ethic that your customers are looking for; it says that you are someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to make sure that you have all the right skills and safety training to do a good job for them.
Improves your safety
The building and construction industries are some of the most injury-prone in Australia. If you undergo the right training you will learn all the important aspects of workplace safety
that not only offer you the best protection at work but also offer your customers reassurance.
You don’t miss out
If you just rely on experience in your trade, there’s always the chance that you will end up with gaps in your knowledge. If you have undergone proper training and certification, you won’t find any situation that you can’t deal with, which is best for you and for your customers.
Work where you choose
Good professional tradies are in demand around the world, and there are numerous opportunities available for travel and lucrative employment. Obviously these opportunities won’t be available to just anyone; contractors will want to see proof of your skills, and licensing and certification allows you to show that.
There are many different routes to obtaining your construction and building certificates and licences, from apprenticeships, diplomas, or recognition of prior learning (RPL). RPL simply involves meeting an assessor who will check that you have the right knowledge and skills for the qualification you want without you having to go back to classroom training and taking exams.