Powerful Words on Climbing the Ladder

By Madeline Martin on Monday, October 25, 2021

The job market for tradesepeople is booming and not slowing down anytime soon. Companies are on the lookout for talented, well-trained employees who can get the job done.

But what happens next?

As you gain experience in your trade, you become even more valuable to your company and others — and this means promotions, raises and climbing the ladder! Read below what these pros say it takes to move on up.

Chase Gilbert
Structural Welder

Employer: Waco Manufacturing
Hometown: Sheridan
Age: 24

Chase has worked for several construction and manufacturing companies in central Arkansas. He holds 15 welding certifications that he has earned through on-the-job training and testing. As a structural welder, he is experienced and knows what it takes to climb the ladder in his industry.

How can young pros rise through the ranks in the welding industry?

“Obtaining your certificate to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) is a great way to move up in the company you work for. Typically, a welder will start out with a simple welding procedure in their first several jobs. As they gain more experience and certifications, they can move onto more complicated welding assignments, which will increase the rate of pay.”

How did you “climb the ladder?”

“I have gotten new certifications each year to make myself more attractive to employers.”

What’s your go-to advice for new skilled trades workers?

“Don’t wait around for the ‘right’ job. Take what you can get at first. You won’t be there forever, and any experience is good experience.”

SAVANNAH SAYS: "I didn’t want to follow the conventional path, and I wanted a trade that could be applied at work and at home. I'm a more hands-on person."

Sergio Cortes

Employer: Koontz Electric
Hometown: Morrilton
Age: 28

In his seven years with Koontz Electric, Sergio has risen to a foreman position and learned valuable skills along the way. As a foreman, he performs quality control and manages his crew’s safety and daily tasks.

What does it take to move up as an electrician?

“Workers can rise by putting in the work. You will be seen and appreciated when you are giving your all. The mobility within our company has grown so much, giving opportunities for the employees.”

How did you “climb the ladder?”

“I have been with Koontz for seven years, and there has not been a year where I haven’t gained new knowledge or experience. There is always something to learn in this trade, which has led me to the position I am in now.”

What are your tips for joining the industry?

“My advice to high schoolers looking to pursue a trades career is to jump on it. It is a growing industry with more experience gained and less education money spent. This is the career to plant a future in.”

MATTHEW SAYS: "The national electrical grid is the backbone of our country. This critical infrastructure powers all our lives."

More From The Pros

What They Like

Danny DeLapp
Preventative Maintenance, Walmart

“I like how every day is different, every day is a new challenge. I will always have things to learn and get better at. I enjoy having a job … [where] there are always new advancements in technology.”

Blake Potter
Lineman, Entergy

“They take care of us well and their main concern is our safety! They stress to us that ‘no work is so urgent or important that we cannot take the time to do it safely!’”

Josh Gross
Master Plumber, Paschal Heat & Air

“I get to show up every day knowing the work I do matters! Every day I get to work through new challenges that better me as a person and trades professional.”

"I firmly believe that opportunity is everywhere for top performers and those that want it. We have experienced tremendous growth over the years, which has offered great advancement opportunities and promotions for our high performers.” – Charley Boyce, President of Paschal Heat & Air

On Choosing This Career Path

Taylor Scott
Operations Trainee, Greenway Equipment

“I wanted to be in the farming community, and wanted to stay around my hometown and this allows me to do both, plus it is allowing me to learn how I can help my family on the farm too.”

Landon Burkhart
HVAC Install Field Supervisor, Paschal Heat & Air

“I have been able to purchase a house sooner than my peers just because they went to college and acquired tons of student debt. I have been able to move forward with my career and get into the position that I am in faster than most.”

Ushma Harris
Company Driver, USA Truck

“I feel the perks of me taking this route are that it didn’t take me long at all to get here, and it’s a high demand for truck drivers right now.”

Skills & Education

Eric Mendoza
Automation Technician, Tyson Foods Inc.

“I like to be the problem-solving person, the go-to guy. I really like the feeling of accomplishment when a piece of equipment is not functioning properly, and you apply your knowledge and fix it.”

Whitney Brandon
CAD Drafter, Julian & Sons of Heber Springs

“One of the many benefits of this program is the much shorter duration, at only two years of study, while leading to the same certification that many bachelor’s degree holders obtain.”

What People Don’t Understand

Seth Crow
Instrument Technician, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation

“There is quite a bit that goes into producing power, so that every time you flip a switch, the lights come on. The process of generating power and delivering it to homes and businesses is very complicated and involves many talented people dedicated to what they do.”


1. Take advantage of every opportunity, big or small. In order to climb the ladder, you have to start somewhere, sometimes at the bottom. Make the most of each job experience you have on your way to the top.

2. Work hard to stand out. Your bosses will notice this, and you’ll gain recognition for it. It can also lead to more on-the-job assignments and opportunities to prove yourself.

3. Keep learning. Don’t stop after your initial training is complete. Upskill, and learn more about your trade through your co-workers and get new certifications.

4. Just ask! Speak up. No matter the job, one thing young employees often forget to do is volunteer for more responsibility and experience at their companies. Simply asking your manager(s) if you can help with things outside your normal job description, or asking for more work, in general, is one of the fastest ways to get recognized, to get raises and to rise in the ranks!