College Degree or Learning a Skilled Trade: Which is the Better Option?

For every young student on the brink of graduating high school, they all face the pressure of determining which secondary education they want to pursue. Pressure from parents and teachers can make you feel like you’re being pulled in all kinds of directions. And although their intentions are good, and they simply want the best for you, their “pushing” can be discouraging and confusing. 

“Choose a career that’s going to make you money” is what parents like to say, and when they say that, they’re implying to go to college because having a college degree will get you a high-paying job… so they say. But that’s not entirely true. There are definitely trade jobs that earn considerably higher salaries than degree-required jobs. In fact, only 27% of college graduates end up working jobs in the field of their major.

So what does that mean? It means that there are lots of people in immense amounts of debt working jobs they didn’t even go to school for. That reason alone is why lots of people opt for trade jobs, not only to avoid student loan debt but also because they have the opportunity to make considerably more money than having a college degree.

But ultimately, it all depends on your life, what you want to do, and the life goals you have that will help you determine which path is right for you. Here are some top considerations to think about with both options.

Considerations to Think About When Determining Pursuing a College Degree or Learning a Trade

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Cost and Time For Completion

To complete a bachelor’s degree program, it’s going to take at least four years or more, especially if you have to work while completing the program. To earn a certificate from a vocational school can take two years or less to complete.

For a technical or trade school, you can be paying around $4,000 annually over the course of two years, whereas, the average tuition costs for a 4-year university can run upwards of $10,000 annually, depending on the school and if it’s out of state.

Average Earnings

The average earnings for people with bachelor’s degrees versus those without it can vary. When looking to pursue a trade job, they don’t always require a bachelor’s degree, but in order to receive proper licensing, continued education and passing certain exams are required. For example, to earn your Florida contractor’s license, 14 hours of continuing education is required for license renewal every two years. 

A licensed contractor can earn as much as $91,000 annually versus someone with a bachelor’s degree earning $55,000 annually. Some jobs require masters’ degrees, and obtaining a job with a master’s degree will certainly give you a higher salary advantage but it will also put you into more debt as well. So it certainly PAYS to know which direction you want your career path to go in.

Demand For Employment

For all trade jobs, there’s nearly no shortage of demand for jobs. If you’re a homeowner, there will come a point where you will always need a plumber or electrician. If you drive a car, there will always come a point where you will need to take your car to an auto mechanic… For lots of jobs that require bachelor’s degrees or higher, depending on the type of job it is, there’s a very real possibility that those jobs can and will soon be replaced by robots and other types of artificial intelligence and automation.

These are all considerations to think about when pursuing a career. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; It all depends on what your life goals are and where your passion lies, but there are pros for both options, you just have to determine which career path will be most beneficial to your life and long-term goals.

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