High schools teach students the only way to survive and thrive in today’s world is to complete a four-year degree before entering the workforce. While this might have worked in the past, this push toward college degrees has led to a massive labor shortage in most of the blue-collar industries. When it comes down to it, you don’t need to have a college degree to succeed. Let’s take a closer look at why trade school might be a better choice than college.
A Growing Labor Shortage
Since the recession in 2008, there have been fewer blue-collar workers entering the industry. Add to this the fact that many existing workers are reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce, and you’ve got the makings of a significant labor shortage.
Experts expect many of these industries to grow dramatically in the next 10 years. Trucker salaries have grown 7 percent in the last year, but the industry needs 175,000 more truckers in the next six years, and there aren’t enough new drivers to fill the gaps. The cost of owning a truck has gone down over the years as well, as fuel efficiency method become better as technology grows.
Trucking is one of the biggest blue-collar industries in the country, but it’s not the only industry under threat from the growing labor shortage. These companies don’t just need drivers — the technicians and repair crews that keep the trucks running also need more people.
Trade School vs. College
What’s the difference between a four-year college and a trade school?
The first major difference is the length of time you’ll spend in class. A traditional college degree will likely take you at least four years to complete. Most trade school courses are only two years long, providing all the information necessary to work in your chosen field or secure an apprenticeship in a much shorter time. Instead of working odd jobs to pay for college for four years, you can get into the workforce in less than half the time.
College degrees also don’t provide you with hands-on experience for your chosen field. In contrast, trade schools put you in the shop or put tools in your hand from day one, teaching you how to carry out your job successfully by putting examples and problems in front of you for you to solve.
One of the other significant benefits of trade school over college is the cost. A traditional four-year bachelor’s degree can cost upwards of $127,000 if you include the cost of tuition, books, supplies and living expenses. A comparable trade school program, meanwhile, will cost you less than $30,000.
Many blue-collar employers offer tuition reimbursement for new graduates as well, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in student loans and interest charges.
Average Blue-Collar Income
You don’t need a college degree to make a decent amount of money. Blue-collar degrees can guarantee you a competitive salary. The median salary in the United States is just above $43,000 a year. The annual average income for blue-collar workers is over $56,000, 30 percent higher than the average yearly salary in white-collar industries.
As a bonus, you can start earning this income two years sooner than you would if you sent to college to complete your degree.
Making Your Decision
When it comes down to it, the final decision between trade school and college is up to you. Just remember that in spite what your high school guidance counselor might have told you, college isn’t your only option. Consider a trade school to put your skills to use. Working with your hands isn’t something to be ashamed of, and your skills could help restore a foundering blue-collar industry.
Photo provided by the author.