The Campaign for Historic Trades promotes skills related to the construction of the historic built environment. This inherently encompasses a broad spectrum of jobs and specialties. Apprentices and trainees can follow a generalist path or specialize in a craft.
Skilled carpenters assess wood features, make recommendations for repairs, and use techniques to blend the new fabric with the old, all while documenting the work they complete. Carpenters need a firm grasp of construction math and an understanding of structural engineering.
Woodcrafters combine preservation carpentry with traditional woodworking to restore and replicate architectural features that include windows, doors, columns, and many other components found on and inside historic structures. Woodcrafters need to be literate in construction math, and learn about wood science to inform their work.
A finisher applies final coats of different materials on a variety of substrates. This includes painting, sealants, stains, and washes. Finishers study and learn about chemistry, material science, and application techniques. They research and recreate historic finishes.
Preservation masons take extra steps to blend repairs with existing stone, concrete or brick. The process includes analyzing the mortar and finding appropriate materials to match mortar. Masonry is a general categorization. Different specialized under this umbrella can include brickwork, stonework, plastering, and tiling, among others. Preservation masons need to be dexterous and learn material science to understand different mortars and masonry units.
Metalworkers manipulate metals into structural, functional, and decorative aspects of structures. Metalworkers forge, weld, solder, smelt, and cast metals into roofs, monuments, beams, fencing and rails, and decorative features. It requires extensive knowledge of metallurgy and material sciences, as well as strong technical skills to manipulate the metal.
A glazier works on the glazing of fenestrations. In layman’s terms, glaziers repair, clean, and replace the glass features on a building. This can include standard windows and doors, as well as stained-glass elements. It requires familiarity with multiple materials and an understanding of various operating systems.
Historic trades offer a breadth of career opportunities. Working professionals and tradespeople can augment and specialize their skill sets. Young people and career transitioners can train with skilled masters, learning to use both hands and mind. Take the next step.Get Involved
Historic Trades encompass a wide sector of jobs. Trainees can follow career paths in:
2019 median salaries in construction trades ranged from $36,000 for unskilled labor to $48,000 for skilled carpenters.
Related historic trades positions at the National Park Service range from custodial work to exhibit specialist. The 2018 median pay for these positions was $34,000 and $78,000 respectively.
Youth Participant, 2017
I would like senior officials in the NPS to know that this is a great program. Traditional trades are not something I have ever been interested in before, however this internship has opened my eyes to all the work that goes into these national parks and I am very happy to have the chance to have an impact.”
Youth Participant, 2018
The most challenging aspect of my experience thus far would be learning to do things I’ve never done before. Practicing with tools I had little experience with or a particular technique that is difficult to master has been the most challenging aspect. I try to avoid making the same mistake twice and make good habits when working properly and safely with tools.”
Historic Trades do not have special job classifications within construction. Without this, job and career data can only be deduced from construction industries as a whole. Industry is trying to resolve labor shortages through technology and mechanization. However, restoration cannot be robotized. Human discretion and tactical skills will always be needed in historic preservation projects. America’s historic building stock increases every year, as does the value of skilled labor. Historic trades offer job and economic security.