Every single day, workers in America are risking their lives to make a living.

Mundane moments in our lives that we take for granted — that lights come on when we flick switches, that roads are safe to drive on, that toilets flush away dirty water and taps supply clean — occur because of skilled trade workers, some of whom risk their lives in potentially deadly situations just to make them happen.

Despite the essential work they do every day, skilled workers aren't often given much credit in our culture. They're overlooked or underestimated.

Working in skilled trades isn't something a person can wake up one day, put on a hardhat, and start doing. The vast majority require a two-year diploma from a vocational school. Others are more in depth, adding apprenticeships and on-the-job training before workers can be certified to do it on their own.

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Deepwater Horizon

Losing 8 friends is hard. Fighting back is harder. Caleb Holloway did both.

A poignant reminder about the hard work skilled workers do.

Caleb Holloway didn’t plan on becoming a rig operator. He just wanted a good paycheck and a steady job.

After a string of odd jobs — working at a feed store, in hospital maintenance, and installing concrete — 22-year-old Caleb and his best friend applied on a whim for a job working on small offshore oil rigs. They were hired two weeks later and stationed on a little shallow-water rig called a "jack-up." It was hard work, but it paid well and Caleb excelled at it. Within two years, he'd switched companies and started working at Transocean on its flagship offshore rig, the Deepwater Horizon.

On this massive rig, Caleb found community with his fellow workers. Stationed together for 21 days at a time, they became a second family to each other.

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Deepwater Horizon