Building a Future: Why Skilled Trade Professions Are a Wise Investment

While college is still the main focus for many career-minded job seekers, the fact is that trade school is an extremely viable (and oftentimes lucrative) alternative. Many trade workers, such as plumbers, construction workers, and electricians, are paid top dollar for their skills. The experience differs quite sharply from that of college, however. Trade school coursework trains students for extremely specific careers, while college offers opportunities to learn a wider variety of topics and skills. But there are many reasons why pursuing skilled trade professions can be a wise investment, beginning from the very first moment you step into a classroom.


Less expensive than college

Trade school is significantly cheaper than getting a four-year college education. On average, a bachelor’s degree will cost students around $132,000 over four years. Trade school, on the other hand, runs about $33,000. That’s roughly $100,000 you won’t have to spend going into debt, which is a great way to settle yourself into a healthy financial position at the very start of your career—a position that the 43.5 million people who currently owe student debt in the United States would likely love to be in.

Less of a time commitment than college

Instead of an average of four years of college, trade school graduates can finish up their program in as quickly as twelve to eighteen months (depending on the program and the trade, of course). This includes careers in everything from health care and manufacturing to technology and construction. You’ll often start earning money, however, even during the apprenticeship phase of some of these programs. This means the kind of quick earning potential you just don’t see on a college campus.

The return on investment is high

Of course, what you’ll really be making depends on the trade you pursue and the number of hours you work. Overtime is very popular in industries like construction, where you can work up to eighty hours a week if you so desire. All that overtime can add up to very real dollar signs. That’s on top of the fact that the higher your skill level, the more you get paid per hour.

Currently, the majority of trade school salaries range from $48,500 to $81,000 with the top 10 percent of earners raking in $89,500 annually across the United States. The biggest factors that influence these pay ranges are skill level, years of experience, and where you’re located.


Benefits are often included

Not only do trade school graduates often earn a healthy salary, but they’re also usually offered benefits packages on top of what they earn per hour or per year. These benefits can include health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick leave, and even retirement packages—all of which are basically like extra money in your pocket.

An opportunity to do what you truly enjoy

Taking a step back from talking about money, one of the biggest reasons why trade schools can be a genuinely wise investment is if you honestly enjoy the work that you would be doing. Unlike typical office jobs, where you’ll likely be asked to do extra tasks that are outside your wheelhouse of favorites, skilled trade professions are refreshingly single-minded. For example, a plumber is not going to be asked to work on an electrical system (and vice-versa). That means that if you really relish the specific trade you study, you can be assured that is the trade you will be working on…without anyone demanding you start working on tasks that you didn’t ask for or want.

Skilled trade professions may not be promoted as heavily as college, but the opportunities are truly endless. It’s possible to take your pick from a wide variety of different careers that don’t fall under the college degree umbrella. Don’t be afraid to find job satisfaction through any route that makes sense to you.

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