The Path To Success Begins with College….Or Trade School?

August 2, 2019 Karli Langner

If You Overlook The Skilled Trades, You Could Be Overlooking BIG Opportunities

When I was in high school, I thought that the only way to be successful is to go to college and get a degree. It’s instilled in us from the time we begin our freshman year that the next four years are meant to prepare us for higher education. If you don’t go to college, you end up on the streets. That’s what they told us, anyway.

Meanwhile, while most college students are drowning in debt that they won’t be able to fully pay back for decades, high-paying trade jobs are sitting empty. Even if some students are fortunate enough not to accumulate any student loan debt, many students are perpetually underemployed because they are unable to find a job that even requires a degree. Think about the time and money wasted…all for a piece of paper you will never use.

Seems like a no-brainer, then. Trade school is where it’s at, right? Well, in the Construction industry specifically, 78% of firms hope to expand their headcount in 2019; however, 70% admit that they’re struggling to find qualified workers. To find out what the deal is with that, a study was conducted in January 2019 on Google Surveys. Three survey questions were served to a sample size of at least 1,000 respondents per question. The demographic consisted of people ages 18-24 years old living in the United States.

What Was Discovered?

Young Americans don’t associate high pay and job security with trade schools. Only 11% of the participants thought that trade schools can lead to high-paying jobs. Contrary to popular belief, a trade school certification often guarantees a job in the industry due to the demand for labor, specialized learning, and direct skills. Job security is another advantage, considering the aging population of skilled trade workers means more opportunities for young people to enter the field. 5% of the participants also thought workers with a trade school certification made an average of $18,000 less than workers with a bachelor’s degree. 1 in 5 students believed that there was a $30,000 gap.

The average annual pay difference between trade school entry-level jobs and bachelor’s degree earners is $12,000; however, trade school graduates can enter the field sooner (meaning more years of income and a jump-start at career advancement opportunities), and the lower cost of debt offers the possibility of higher net earnings. Keep in mind, this only pertains to those lucky students who actually can find entry-level positions after college. Having a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee you an opportunity, and it’s truly sad to see the number of people that I graduated from college with that aren’t using their degrees whatsoever.

Teach 'em Young

Don’t get me wrong, a college education can offer many advantages. I’m lucky enough to have a bachelor’s degree and work in a field that I actually went to school for, for a global company that affords me many career development opportunities. However, few young Americans are aware of the possibilities offered by trade schools, when that path could in fact be the perfect fit for them! It’s time high schools highlight the value of trade schools and portray them as a viable, well-paying career path. If you work for an organization in the construction industry, think about reaching out to local high schools to see if they have a career day. You can set up a booth and do your part in educating the younger generations on how they can make an impact in this industry!

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