For a decade or two, every piece of advice on careers seemed to be about the business world—Wall Street or the tech boom—and most of these jobs required pricey college degrees. But sometimes those business careers are less stable, and those degrees aren’t necessary to make a solid living.
Instead, a skilled trade, which requires very specific training and is often manual, physically demanding work, can provide a very lucrative income with guaranteed work.
Here are five reasons why skilled trades are worth pursuing.
1) Cheaper and shorter training
You can earn an associate degree at a trade school or community college in two years, half the time of a bachelor’s degree at a pricey public university. You’ll be learning practical skills that are immediately usable in your actual job, while your friends pursuing a college degree and might never use what they’re learning in sociology class! There are countless grants and loans available, putting you in a potential position to graduate with little or no debt. You’ll be making money in two years—much sooner than your college friends—and they’ll be burdened with hefty loans to pay back!
2) Chance for immediate experience in the real world
If you can lock down an apprenticeship, you’ll be gaining experience and earning money immediately. Instead of adding education credits to your resume, you’ll be adding actual hands-on projects and on-the-job training. You’ll be equipped with trusted know-how and competence while you earn money.
3) Earn a good living
These skilled certifications, licenses and qualifications promise you a solid salary. Of course, it will vary depending on the area of the country you live in, the size of the company you work for, your experience level and your level of education. Here are the starting base salaries for the following skilled trade fields:
Aircraft Mechanic: $49,000
Locomotive Engineer: $63,000
Elevator Repairer/Installer: $73,000
Nuclear Technician: $69,000
4) Huge demand
As baby boomers retire, there are even more employment opportunities for power plant operators, plumbers, welders, carpenters and utility workers. These jobs can’t be outsourced overseas, so job security is solid. There are diverse job options in both rural and urban areas as almost every town or city in every state has a need for many of these highly skilled positions.
5) Meaningful career
When you’re qualified to pursue in a skilled trade, you’re more likely to have a satisfying career. You’re using the skills you’ve been trained in, doing what you’re good at, with little time to be bored or idle. Many skilled trades offer the chance to work for yourself, so you’ll be able to control the jobs you take when and where you want to take them. You can shut down your phone or email at night and not worry that a boss will be demanding your attention!