When most well-intentioned parents and teachers talk about the future with adolescents, they discuss university majors, 4-year plans, and student loan debt. They teeter between the infamous STEM road and the notorious liberal arts path. Yes, for many students in modern America, it's not a matter of if you attend college- it's a matter of which one you attend.
With that said, with skyrocketing tuition costs, an epidemic of underemployment, and an intensified pressure and difficulty getting into top universities, it's safe to say: college isn't the only path worth pursuing.
In fact, for some individuals, college attendance would actually be counterproductive- both prosocially and financially. Rather than only preaching the virtues of formal higher education, we need to expand how we teach our youth about the working world. In other words, we need to be talking about the trades.
Save Dramatically on Education Costs
When it comes to brick-and-mortar schools, the financial stats are downright terrifying. Today, the average tuition for attending college in a public school is nearly $10,000, and for private universities, it hovers around $35,000. With these staggering figures, it's no wonder that we are a society strapped by excessive debt. Even if you come out earning a decent salary, it's rarely a match for the tens of thousands you're paying back in loans.
However, earning an associate's degree at a community college or specialty trade school costs significantly less than the 4-year degree. Furthermore, you're not just leaving school with the conceptual knowledge, classroom skills, and mounds of debt. Rather, you're leaving with real-world experience and applicable on-the-job skills that will translate to immediate financial benefits. No graduate degree or 'glamorous-but-unpaid' internship required.
Earn a Good Living
What do electricians, plumbers, brick masons, commercial drivers, and welders all have in common? They're all bringing home a great paycheck and it doesn't take years and years of corporate success to reach that financial milestone.
What's more? These are jobs consistently in high-demand, meaning there's typically no shortage of work (and even overtime) options available to those looking to achieve financial freedom. If you have a family to support, the skilled trades allow you to make a great living- without spending all your time away from your loved ones.
Stay Active and Productive
We've all heard that saying, sitting is the new smoking. For most people typing away in office cubicles, this is a legitimate and valid concern. For tradespeople, however, the risk is essentially nonexistent. That's because, in the majority of these occupations, you get to be on your feet, taking action, and solving real-world problems all day long.
In most of the trades, there's not a whole lot of room for boredom and idle time. That means you'll always be learning new things, growing your skillset, and becoming a better employee.
If you like to work with your hands, think independently, and create dynamic change in the world, a career in the trades may be the perfect option for your future.
Nicole is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and professional freelance writer. She is passionate about helping people uncover and unleash their authentic selves (both in her therapy and written work). Nicole enjoys blogging about mental health, addiction, and self-esteem. Check her out on souloftherapy.com