3 Reasons to Consider a Career in the Trades

Do you consider yourself creative?
Do you like working with your hands?
Do you want the flexibility to set your own schedule?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you might want to consider a career in the skilled trades. Jobs in the skilled trades — such as carpentry, appliance repair, and plumbing — require you to master a specific set of skills to creatively solve problems.

With 72% of current tradespeople over the age of 45 and quickly approaching retirement, new tradespeople are in high demand. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, 31 million positions will need to be filled.

What this program could do for me immediately is open up job opportunities that could double my yearly wages.

Nicole H., Carpentry Diploma 

If a promising employment outlook isn’t enough, here are 3 more reasons to consider a job in the trades.

1) Less Time in School

Rather than attending college, tradespeople complete a combination of classroom and on the job training.

Most students take a short, foundation program that covers the basics, before starting an apprenticeship with a tradesperson in their field. After finishing up their apprenticeship, students can take the certification test, and get to work.

This entire process usually takes around two years — as opposed to the four years required to get a bachelor’s degree. Even with the burden of cost removed through education benefits, four years is still a big time commitment — especially if you’re a working adult looking to make a career change.

While a college degree is an excellent choice if you know what you want to do, learning a trade is also a great way to work towards a new career — and it only takes half the time to enter the workforce.

2) Earning Potential

False stereotypes and media portrayals would have you believe that most tradespeople barely get by — which couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to research by Lowe’s, the median starting salary of a college graduate is $46,900. Now, keep in mind that even after four-years of schooling, not everyone immediately finds a job. In fact, studies find that it takes most people around six months.

Tradespeople, on the other hand, start off making a median salary of $35,720 a year — but before you point out the $11,000 difference, let’s factor in variables like taxes and the cost of education, and take a look at net earnings five years down the road.

After subtracting student debt, the average college graduate would still be $107,100 in the hole five years later, meaning he’s only managed to pay off a third of his loans and has quite a ways to go. Meanwhile, our tradesperson would have already paid off the cost of her education, and actually earned $79,607!

If you factor in an annual 2% raise and cost of living increases, a master electrician who retires at age 65 is estimated to have earned 3.9 million, as opposed to the 3.3 million that a humanities major with a four-year degree would make.

3) Health & Happiness

Lowe’s also found that the #1 factor in job satisfaction is being able to use skills and abilities. Employees that are able to use their skills are more engaged in their work, and therefore happier.

With only 45% of working Americans reporting job satisfaction, the majority of US employees aren’t happy with their current positions. Chances are, this is because many people are working in jobs that don’t utilize their skills.

Think of it like this, if our college graduate went to school to study humanities, but ended up working in sales, he’s probably not using many of the skills that he gained in his degree program. Instead, he’s learning communication and sales tactics on the job, which likely doesn’t align with his interests.

Meanwhile, our tradesperson is doing exactly what she was trained to do. She can build and develop skills, and work towards bigger goals that directly relate to what she’s already doing. Thanks to her active lifestyle, our tradesperson also lives a healthier life — burning 2,500 extra calories a day just doing her job, as opposed to the 300 that office workers burn.

If you like working outdoors, using your hands, creative problem solving, and having a flexible schedule —  a career in the trades might just be for you. 


As Baby Boomers Retire, Skilled Trades Career Opportunities Grow. (2018, July 05). Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.lincolntech.edu/news/skilled-trades/baby-boomers-skilled-trades-opps

Caldwell, M. (n.d.). The Unemployed College Grad Survival Guide. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from https://www.thebalance.com/making-it-between-college-and-your-first-job-2386193

Generation T Infographic[PDF]. (n.d.). https://www.wearegenerationt.com/trades.

Written by Guild Education

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