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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A tradesman or tradesperson is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or craft not in the liberal arts, "learned professions" or agriculture. Economically and socially, a tradesman's status is considered between a laborer and a professional, with a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of his or her trade. In cultures where professional careers are highly prized, there can be a shortage of skilled manual workers, leading to lucrative niche markets in the trades.

The training of a trade in European cultures has been a formal tradition for many centuries. A tradesman typically begins as an apprentice, working for and learning from a Master, and after a number of years is released from his or her master's service as a journeyman. After a journeyman has proven himself to his or her trade's guild (most guilds are now known by different names), he or she may settle down as a master and work for themselves, eventually taking on their own apprentices.

Since the 20th century, this process has been changed in many ways. A tradesman still begins as an apprentice, but the apprenticeship is carried out partly through working for a tradesman and partly through an accredited trade school for a definite period of time (usually around 4 years), after which they are fully qualified. Starting one's own business is purely a financial matter, rather than being dependent on status. Few trades still make a distinction between a qualified tradesman and a master.

While in some countries a recognised qualification is mandatory for an individual to register as a tradesman/tradesperson or builder, in others it is not the case. In the absence of a regulator in these markets a number of private companies have been set up to screen contractors and ensure that they are suitable for the their advertised services. Many trade occupations in the UK are loosely called engineers; some examples: an aircraft riveter may be called an aeronautical engineer, an automotive car mechanic may be called an automobile engineer or a TV satellite dish installer may be called a satellite engineer.

A Jack of all trades (also "Jill of all trades") is a colloquial term for someone who holds some degree of skill/qualification in more than one trade, but has not made a continuous career of any one. In many cases, a trade has been largely eliminated by social or technological change, and skilled workers have found employment in similar trades (e.g. typesetters have become mostly obsolete due to electronic printing).

Types of tradesmen/tradesworkers/tradeswork

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tradesman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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