Everyone knows that college graduates earn more than non-college graduates. However, skilled trade school graduates consistently earn more than college graduates. With college tuition prices shooting up and employment opportunities shrinking — maybe college isn’t the best way to earn big money.
Starting Your Career Debt-Free
The average American college student gets saddled with over $37,000 in student debt. Expect that number to rise because colleges are constantly hiking up their tuition. A bachelor’s degree can cost more than $120,000 — and that’s just tuition alone.
Unless you’re really diligent — don’t expect to spend a mere 4 years in college. The majority of American students (around 60 percent) take 6 whole years to finish college. On the other hand, learning skills in trade school can take as little as 6 months to 2 years.
Trade school tuition costs around $30,000, but many potential employers will often shoulder the cost of education — with some even providing monthly allowances for their future employees. Getting a head start on your career allows you to earn money earlier, and trade schools give you a 3–5-year head start on those college graduates.
College promises great job opportunities — but half of all college graduates work in jobs that don’t even require a degree. 70 percent of college graduates won’t even get to use their degree in a related job. This is especially true for niche degrees in liberal arts like Social Science and Gender Studies.
Companies and corporations just have very little need for an extra sociologist or gender studies expert. College graduates will usually settle into office jobs that don’t match their education — with employers that value their education but don’t necessarily need it.
On the other hand, skilled work is always in demand. Companies and staffing agencies are always looking for new recruits — often offering higher wages, bonuses, and other benefits. The US currently has a blue-collar shortage, so expect to get hired as soon as you finish or even as soon as you start your training.
A bachelor’s degree will probably earn you more money in the first 5 years of your career compared with trade certification. The average wage for college graduates in their first 5 years is around $47,000 — while the average earnings of skilled tradespeople stand at $39,000.
The $8,000 disparity might seem big — but the gap closes after a few years. On the 10-year mark, college graduates will earn $55,000 — while skilled tradespeople will earn $54,000. Considering college takes an average of 6 years to finish — skilled blue-collar workers will be out-earning college graduates on the get-go, without having to pay exorbitant tuitions and getting into debt.
Certain industries also provide higher wages for skilled blue-collar workers. Industries in manufacturing, construction, and transportation — are massive industries where skilled workers can earn more than $30 an hour or more than $60,000 a year.
Unless you’re serious about learning or you’re going into the STEM fields — college may not be the best path to start your career. Trade schools allow you to start your career earlier and without massive student debt. When it comes to earnings — the average college graduate will earn significantly less than the average tradesman.