There was a time, not so long ago, when a high school diploma was all you needed in order to obtain a decent job. For several reasons, that standard has been raised. In modern America, a college education is now required for most entry-level positions. The only problem with that proviso is that higher education is no longer affordable for the masses.
According to data from Bloomberg, a leading financial news company, the cost of a college degree in America has increased a whopping 1,120 percent in the past three decades. Now rising two and a half times faster than the rate of inflation, only about 10 percent of students can afford their tuition. The other 90 percent must take out student loans that saddle them with bills that can take years, even decades, to pay. At last count, the average college graduate left school with $28,000 of student debt. What’s the alternative?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many. Without a college education, many workers are doomed to a lifetime of low-wage employment. These positions offer little in the way of benefits or job security; not to mention that the stagnant wages that are a hallmark of these jobs often makes saving impossible. Even so, about 25 percent of Americans work these dead-end jobs. There is, however, one viable option many have not explored.
Why Trade School?
As incredible as it may sound, there are more than three million jobs openings in the skilled trades. According to employers, a good number of those high-paying positions cannot be filled because they can’t find qualified workers. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, and other tradesmen are in such high demand that their salaries are rising much faster than inflation. This is great news for the average high school grad who does not have the money or the desire to pursue a college degree.
Not everyone was meant to go to college. But, because parents and educators often push young people in that direction, many of them take classes just to avoid conflict. Not surprisingly, few of these reluctant students graduate. In fact, about 40 percent of all college and university students drop out before earning their degree. Most waste thousands of dollars on an education they will never use. If they had only been encouraged to attend trade school instead, things may have gone better for them for the following reasons:
Because students are able to focus on a single subject or trade, instead of on a full course load, they can complete their training in only a year or two. They can then start working immediately without the extra years of education they would have needed at a four-year institution.
Even an excellent trade school will only charge a fraction of the price of the average institution of higher learning. Expect to spend a bit more than you would on a new car, but not as much as you would on a new house, which is what you’d have to fork off if you pursued your four-year degree.
Instead of learning theories and hypotheticals, aspiring tradesmen are prepared for the real world from day one. By the time they graduate, students have the training and experience they need to ply their respective trade.
For all of these reasons and more, trade school is a viable alternative to higher education for millions of Americans.