4 Trade Skills That Will Increase Your Self-Sufficiency

Guest Post by Jori Hamilton

In the modern age of rapidly evolving technology and the digitization of practically every industry, trade skills are getting lost in the shuffle. As more young people pursue an academic education, employers within technical fields are scrambling to fill jobs from a decreasing worker pool.

But a decrease in those seeking out a trade education isn’t just bad news for employers — without at least a rudimentary background in a skilled trade, you become less self-sufficient and more reliant on outside help for what might be minor fixes. That reliance on others can greatly impact your pocketbook, and may mean the difference between life or death during a survival situation. 

Whether you’re preparing for an emergency or simply want to increase your self-sufficiency overall, here are four beneficial trade skills that may come in handy. 


Having adequate shelter is one of the key factors of long-term survival in an emergency situation, and you never know when you may need to make a shelter on the fly. Too many people rely on the idea that they can just erect a tent or seek out shelter in a motel, but what if you are stuck without a tent, away from civilization?

Shelter making is a survival skill you can practice while camping, but for long-term dwelling, you’ll need some carpentry skills. Keep in mind that, in a survival situation, you may not have consistent access to electricity, so familiarize yourself with hand tools. At the very least, you should know how to wield a hammer, hand saw, and screwdriver, and practice building a small, basic structure using only those simple tools and a tape measure.

Construction skills can take you even further, in survival and non-emergency scenarios alike. Rather than settling on a cookie-cutter home when you’re looking to buy, you can cut out the middleman and build the house yourself. Building a home instead of buying an existing structure gives you unprecedented freedom and the opportunity to create a space that’s uniquely suited to your family’s needs and lifestyle.


Carpentry and welding are similar in many respects: Both trades fall under the blanket of building and construction, and both require precision and manual dexterity. However, there are a number of additional skills and personality traits you should possess in order to become successful in the welding trade. Welders should be able to logically troubleshoot problems, possess good spatial orientation, and perform precise work. 

Unlike carpentry, which can be practiced on one’s own, welding lessons must be done under the supervision of an experienced instructor, at a community college or vocational school. It typically takes between seven months and two years to complete a professional welding program, but the skills you will gain may prove invaluable.

In an emergency situation, water lines could burst, leading to a contaminated water supply and/or flooding. If you are able to weld, you can quickly return damaged pipes to good working order, possibly saving lives and reducing structural damage.


Once required learning in junior high home economics classes, sewing has become somewhat of a lost art. A basic sewing kit is a necessary component of any bug-out or survival bag, but it won’t do you much good if you lack sewing skills. Unfortunately, the inability to sew is a common problem in modern society, as many people turn sewing projects over to their neighborhood tailor or dry clear, even for a simple job like replacing a button.

In fact, within the U.K., 59% of people are either completely unskilled or not confident with sewing. If you want to improve your self-sufficiency, make sure you aren’t part of those ranks. There are plenty of books and online tutorials that can show you how to perform basic stitches, such as whip stitch and running stitch. Whether you’re in a tent the woods or a solar-powered house in the city, you never know when sewing skills will come in handy. 


Even if your home is completely off-grid, you may end up having to deal with plumbing in some shape or form. Perhaps you have a rooftop water collection system and discover a clogged pipe, or maybe your flushing toilet isn’t functioning properly. Instead of calling in a professional plumber, you can save money by learning how to fix plumbing issues on your own.

Plumbers are currently in high demand, meaning that their services may end up hurting your pocketbook, as there may be a shortage of experienced plumbers in your area. In fact, the demand for plumbers is expected to grow by 21% through 2022. Do-it-yourself plumbing skills, therefore, are beneficial on many levels, no matter if you’re male or female. 

Although plumbing and similar industries are often considered a “man’s job,” women are just as capable of developing the skills needed to be successful in the plumbing industry. Basic plumbing skills include manual dexterity, precision, and the ability to access confined spaces.

Final Thoughts

While skilled trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and sewing may be absent in many popular films about survival, they are integral to your overall self-sufficiency. By developing construction, welding, and similar skills, you can take better care of your homestead and feel more in control in the case of an emergency or other unplanned scenario. 

Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.

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2 Responses to 4 Trade Skills That Will Increase Your Self-Sufficiency

  1. Pingback: Towards Self-Sufficiency: How Off-Grid Solar Works | The Preparedness Podcast

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