INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Unemployed? Try this!

image by (Blue Sky)

image by (Blue Sky)

More Americans are either unemployed or under-employed than ever before in our history. If you or someone you love falls into this category, I have a really crazy tip for you.

As long as you’re staying at home doing nothing much, why not get in touch with professionals that you know and see if you can work for them as an unpaid apprentice, particularly if they are in the trades.

I’m serious!

Years ago when there was a work slow-down here in the Phoenix area, my husband began to get calls from men who had been laid off. Some had worked in technical fields and in all sorts of white-collar professions. More than one said to me, “I wish I had learned a trade way back when.”

My husband is an electrical contractor, and although he’s planning a career move, I’m so glad he has a skill that will always be needed. An old teacher colleague from my previous career once said, “Every woman should have a second or third way to earn an income,” and I’d say that applies to men as well.

There are so many trade skills out there, such as:

  • tilework
  • laying carpet
  • carpentry
  • installing cupboards, countertops, and more
  • plumbing
  • painting
  • mechanic
  • appliance repair and service
  • HVAC
  • masonry
  • welders

You might have to start out by just keeping the job site neat and doing menial work, but you’ll have the chance to watch experts do their job and it’s inevitable that you’ll pick up information and skills along the way.

Like I said, this may sound crazy, but I also understand Newton’s First Law of Motion: “Every body continues in its state of rest…unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.” In other words, the longer you sit and do nothing, the longer you will sit and do nothing! That’s not good for anyone: man, woman or child.

So, consider tracking down a professional in one trade or another and asking if they would take you on as a temporary, unpaid apprentice. You’ll pick up some new skills that might translate into a whole new career.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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  1. Jenna says

    Oddly enough, as the economy tanks I ~have~ noticed a weird uptick in memberships in several of the reenactment groups I belong to. Folks who rolled their eyes and laughed when they saw me getting a spinning wheel, or the glee my husband had in each project he tackles with his mini-forge are now beginning to see the value – and want to learn themselves. There IS of course a chance you can learn something while working as an unpaid apprentice (more than a few of my own skills have been learned that way) but there is another reason to look around for those positions even ahead of some home in finding work – the ability to learn how to take care of the issues in your OWN life, and not having to pay someone else to fix your : driveway, water heater, window, car, etc. And there is also the joy in barter – best example I can give? A group of my husband’s coworkers have all learned from volunteer work how to lay concrete flooring as well as tile work – they are now doing all the floors in another coworkers home, free labor, in exchange of his buying enough material for 4 sets of floors. One man has the tools, the others have the ability to move things, arrange things, etc. So for the cost (bought AT cost through a contractor family member) of one finished basement, they will round robin the jobs and have the job down in all the homes. More and more it’s not about the ability to be given a check – just being able to keep money in your pocket is enough of a reason to make the effort and learn. (That…. and frankly it’s fun, good exercise, and gets people working together as a community again.)

    • says

      ABSOLUTELY! My little garden saves me 50% or more on our food bill at the grocery, my chickens give me eggs for almost free and my solar oven cooks food for free (more useful in the summer). I wash out ziplock bags, we burn old candles left over from our weddings to augment our heating bill . We take home food from our wedding business even if is only good enough for the dog. We SAVE so much it’s practically like another paycheck. Saving is as good as earning!

  2. Tricia says

    My husband is a pastor of a small church in a small community, but he hasn’t always been a pastor. In fact, excluding HVAC, he has worked in all of those listed areas and more. I am a SAHM who helps in whatever capacity he needs, so I also have experience in laying tile, construction, painting, etc. I can’t do it all on my own, but I could get hired somewhere if need be. Now, cooking, not a good career choice for me. lol. My husband does all the cooking at our house, however if you are looking for someone to can food for you, I love it and I am good at it. Always a good idea to have extra skill sets

  3. Mac says

    Fantastic tip. I work full time, but in my “spare” time I take side jobs and volunteer to learn new things. Its been great so far and I’ve diversified my income stream. Life’s an education.

  4. erasergirl says

    many tradesmen may not want to train a potential comparator.
    they are desperate for business like anyone else, so expect a lot of suspicion.

  5. Lynda says

    If one is unemployed and collecting unemployment in MA, Work Force Central offers a variety of training programs in other disciplines at no cost to the recipient. This will assist the recipient in getting a foot in the door to unfamiliar industries.

  6. says

    I completely agree. I did this 15 years ago when I needed a new career. In the same area as Survival Mom, I looked around the Phoenix area and asked myself “What is a job that is sorely needed in this area?”

    On a hike up Squaw Peak, I looked down and was amazed at the number of swimming pools I saw in the Valley. I researched how to clean pools and repair them. Then I got a job as an apprentice working for $5/hr working alongside a nice gentleman who taught me the trade.

    A year later, when I was ready to start out on my own, he gave me a few accounts that were outliers to his normal route. Farther than he wanted to deal with, it gave me a good jump start on starting my own pool route. This provided enough income to support my family for three years.

    Then I went back to school in the medical field. Sometimes I miss being able to drive around all day, going house to house. Working at my own pace and listening to AM talk shows in my headphones.

    Nice reminder SM!

  7. Linda says

    Thank you for the idea. I will pass it on to young ones I know who need a gentle nudge or idea or two to get them going.

  8. says

    Although not truly unemployed, medical issues keep me from doing much patient care. Instead, I am now a super volunteer in emergency preparedness. I consult on healthcare preparedness, run our medical reserve corps, and try to educate the public about emergency response. The interesting thing is that I knew nothing about this field 3 years ago, but have learned so much since, it’s like going back to college!

    I encourage everyone with spare time to volunteer in a meaningful way – really learn an organization. You gain knowledge and skills, and even make connections that can help you eventually find employment. If you like preparedness, consider Red Cross, CERT, or Medical Reserve Corps (not everyone is medical). They all love volunteers!

  9. Heather says

    Please check the rules in your area. Some places working in these trades for free is a violation of Union rules and your “employer” could be fined by the Union and /or the ministry in charge. You could also be causing someone else to lose thier job. Why pay someone when somone else will work for free?

  10. Don Russel. says

    look on craigslist in your area, under “all gigs”. you’ll be amazed at how much money you can make, doing common cleanup, moving things, pet care, etc, folks. A Pickup truck helps, but i’ve done plenty of it with my mini-van, and een with a hatchback!

  11. Deb says

    Bus Driver… Not the greatest pay, but it is an income and most hiring for school bus drivers pay you to get trained and foot the training bill….

  12. Jacki Morrow says

    Another way is to go to a job or jobsite and tell them you will work for a week, no strings- if they like your work, they can pay you what they feel you’re worth, if they don’t then you will go on your way. Worst case- they get a week’s free labor, but someone else may see you working and offer you a job, and you always make new connections with other workers. Again, be careful about unions, though you may be able to go to a union hall and sign up with them, not sure about the process for all that.

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