The Benefits of Learning a Skilled Trade

The high school guidance counselor’s office. Talking about tests and schedules, getting brochures and advice. And all of it trying to steer you into college, and eventually some kind of office job.

The office job thing sounded boring to you at the time and still seems like a deadly, clock-watching nightmare now. Is that the only path to success? Without a college degree, are you stuck on the road toward a Terminator Judgement Day-type hellscape, where robots will eventually transform every blue-collar worker into a permanently unemployed ward of the state?

Luckily, the answer is a resounding “no.” There are other paths to career success besides college. Learning a skilled trade can open the door to a secure, well-paying job. In fact, it holds many benefits over other types of training. Here’s three major benefits to learning a skilled trade:

Relatively High Pay

You’re not likely to become a billionaire in a skilled trade profession (unless you use your trade skill to invent some version of the “next big thing”). And you’re not likely to earn as much as, say, a doctor or a dentist. But compared to many jobs that focus on college-educated applicants, the salaries for most skilled trades stack up pretty well.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, plumbers and pipefitters make $51,450 a year on average. CNC machine tool programmers make $50,580.

Compare that to some stereotypical white-collar positions. For instance, bookeeping, accounting and auditing clerks make $39,240 a year, while credit counselors earn an average of $44,710.

Cheaper, Faster Than College

Apprenticeships take time. You can often finish one in around 3-5 years, essentially the length of time it takes to get a bachelor’s degree.

But the college track requires four years of pure schooling. Often practical experience – like internships – don’t come into play until the final year.  School is then followed by an entrance into the workforce, which can itself require a few more years of paying dues in low-end jobs before career advancement begins.

The advance to professional status goes much faster in a skilled trade. The process of learning a trade involves much more real-world experience much earlier. Meanwhile, much of this learning happens on the clock, with you getting paid for your time.

Harder to Outsource

Skilled trade positions are much harder to outsource than generic, unskilled manufacturing jobs. That’s no surprise. What’s more surprising: these gigs are also harder to outsource than a sizable number of office positions as well.

You can make products in China or Mexico and ship them to stores in the U.S. You can also get someone to enter data in India or the Philippines.

But if you need someone to repair your forklift, or drive your truck, or fix your plumbing, or pave your street, that all has to happen right here. There are no ways to do it somewhere else and send the product to the U.S., or to tap into expertise or labor in another country. It has to take place on the spot.

Find a Great Skilled Trade Job

Once you learn your trade, you need to be able to find the top-earning positions and the organizations that will offer the best job security. Teaming with a top-ranked recruiting firm can help. LaborMax can steer you toward the best opportunities. Search our open skilled trades jobs today!