Looking for an alternative to college? Pursue a well-paying trade career instead
Do you really have to shell out $100,000 over four years (the average cost of a college degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics) in order to get a job that will pay enough to support you and your family throughout your lifetime? Are quality paying job opportunities solely confined to careers that require years of study and potential student loan debt?
A coalition of building and construction industry organizations, companies and celebrities is answering those questions with a resounding “no.”
“We’ve heard a lot about the shortage of skilled STEM and health care workers, and a lot less about the looming shortfall of skilled trade workers,” says Jeannette Long, vice president of marketing communications for LIXIL Americas, which is comprised of kitchen and bath brands American Standard, DXV, and GROHE. American Standard is a founding sponsor of the This Old House Generation Next program to promote skilled trade careers. “Yet Bureau of Labor Statistics data tells us that millions of trade industry jobs — such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters —will go unfilled this year because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them. These jobs offer a good, steady income, and learning how to do them doesn’t require candidates to go into thousands of dollars of debt.”
Another initiative promoting skilled trade jobs is the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation, run by none other than the popular host of "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel. This organization sponsors scholarships to help people learn the skills they need for a variety of trade occupations. Careers in the skilled labor trades offer many advantages, including the ability to enter a profession quickly, spend less money on educational costs, and the opportunity to turn a talent or interest into a paying career, in a field where demand is strong.
Here are six trade jobs that will experience significant growth over the next several years, according to the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for each and educational requirements:
* Plumbers — With 12 percent growth anticipated, demand for plumbers will grow faster than average. The median salary for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is around $51,000 per year. Plumbing work requires a high school diploma and an apprenticeship.
* Bricklayers — By 2024, demand for bricklayers will grow much faster than average, at a 15 percent projected increase rate. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, with math, mechanical drawing and vocational education considered helpful, the BLS says. You can also take basic masonry programs through a technical school, many of which also offer apprenticeship programs. The median annual salary is just over $41,000.
* Carpenters — The number of available carpentry jobs will rise 6 percent between now and 2024. With a median pay of nearly $44,000 per year, carpentry work requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training through an apprenticeship.
* Insulation installers — Another building-related trade expected to grow faster than national averages, insulation workers install and replace insulation materials that help homes and buildings maintain their temperatures and improve energy efficiency. The median salary of about $39,000 per year requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training.
* Electricians — A high school diploma, apprenticeship and on-the-job training can gain you access to a career as an electrician. Demand for electricians is expected to grow 14 percent over the next seven years, much faster than the average of all other careers. The median annual salary is nearly $53,000.
* Line workers — Line workers install or repair electrical power and telecommunications systems. Growth in the industry is expected to be average, but the jobs pay well with a median annual salary of more than $62,000. To become a line worker, you need a high school degree or equivalent, an apprenticeship and long-term on-the-job training.
“We need a new generation of talented women and men who aspire to viable trade professions,” Long says. “Ultimately, these generations of professionals hold great power to shape our future, as they create and protect the products and systems that keep our homes and communities safe, healthy, comfortable and growing.”
To learn more about Generation Next, visit www.thisoldhouse.com.