Why Not Trade School?


I think we’ve all made what may be considered poor decisions in our lives. At the time, the decision may have appeared to be the best at the time. We may even have given considerable thought beforehand. Then, things change, as they eventually do, and that decision was probably not the best one to make at the time.

There’s not much we can do about certain decisions, no one can see what the future holds and we can only think at the time, we’re making the best that we can. The reason I’m bringing this up is I recently saw one of those tweets that if you’re on Twitter, we all see every once in a while. I wish I had captured the picture, but didn’t. It was a young woman holding a piece of paper with the following handwritten, as best as I can recall:

I have a degree in Fine Arts

I can’t find a job

I’m $20,000 in (school?) debt.

Every time I see something like this i wonder if the person ever considered the employment opportunities before they chose whatever the major was. We can’t predict 4 years in advance what the economy in any field may look like, but we can, and should, try to determine what the job market is currently. I’m not unsympathetic to her plight, and no, I’m not suggesting she should’ve gone into STEM, but taking a close look at what the future may hold could be beneficial.

I know I will probably receive a few negative comments about this post but I believe that in general, the days of sending your teenager off to a 4 year institution are over. Or should be. The expense is outrageous and yes, depending on what the major happens to be, may or may not ensure any kind of career upon graduation. So I have another suggestion, which may get a few laughs from some, but should be considered.

How about getting into a field that will almost certainly guarantee some sort of employment upon graduation? I’m referring to attending a trade school, or even a community college that offers certificates in various trades like electrician, welding, plumbing, air conditioning, etc. It may seem absurd to some but there are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs in these and other trades waiting to be filled.

Yes, you may have to get your hands dirty, and no, you won’t be sitting behind a desk in a climate controlled office, but a person after 1 or 2 years will be able to get a job and start mastering their craft. Just as in any profession, and yes these are professions, a person will advance and be paid as to their ability.

It’s probably better than waiting tables or flipping burgers and it boggles my mind why more young people don’t consider any of these. Even if, later on, a decision is made to get a 4 year degree in something else, there is now a skill that will always be there and if going part time, will help pay the expense of a 4 year education.

Receiving a certificate via a community college is a lot less expensive than a traditional college, and again, it’s complete within 2 years, credits transferable if desired in the future.

Instead of complaining about the lack of job opportunities  from some Liberal Arts degree, earn a certificate, or 2 year associates degree, in a field where there’s always going to be a demand.

6 thoughts on “Why Not Trade School?

  1. That is where the money is, even starting out as an apprentice. Once you are a master, you are getting $50 an hour and up. Getting a Commercial Driving License is a good route to take, too. Many do not end up doing long distance.

    One of the hardest thing for employers to work around is finding people who can pass a drug test. Young folks who want to use pot or other drugs are doing themselves a great disservice.

    Nurses are always needed and many community colleges connect with their local hospitals to provide just what the are asking for in nurses and technicians.

    I am amazed that the young woman’s debt was only $20,000. Buckle down in any job and get that paid off and stop asking for sympathy. Maybe she will learn a new skill and make herself marketable.

    My boys have degrees in Sequential Arts, but that is their passion and their other jobs (teacher, brewer, associate director at the same college graduated from) are their income maker. They didn’t whine and make others feel sorry for them, but arranged their lives so they were making a living, while forming an independent comic book publishing company, which recently started paying for itself. LOL. Plus…they had no college debt to pay off, as they lived at home, while attending college. Neither did our daughter incur college debt, when she got her degree in Psychology and later became a Behavioral Analyst.

    All our siblings and my husband and me worked our way through college, lived at home and did not incur debt. I don’t get this need to go to a big name school for a run of the mill degree and rack up tens of thousands in debt and then feel that you are owed something because of it.


    • A few years ago, a friend of mine wanted me to talk to his 17 year old son, who didn’t want to go to a 4 year college. Since I have more than 1 degree, he thought I would be able to speak about the advantages of a 4 year degree. I noticed very fast that the kid wasn’t interested so I mentioned community college, where he could train for a certificate in several trades, or an actual trade school.

      He ended up at the CC where after 2 years, he received certificates in plumbing AND welding. He’s a plumber now, making really decent money after about 4 years on the job, and also works part time, as he wants, as a welder.

      I don’t see anything wrong with that. Those 2 alone are in demand everywhere.


      • One of my friends remarked that she can always tell when the one she is speaking to has not finished high school.
        I knew what she meant … that immaturity of thought and the shallowness of their data base, their impoverished fund of common knowledge.

        But I also had the thought that in addition, I could always tell a person who hadn’t had a college education. There is a narrowness to their thinking and a persistence of bad opinions and conclusions.

        A college education is not for everyone, of course, but it has a specific kind of value in itself that a job-oriented education cannot match.

        Possibly a two-year program to learn a trade focuses its English course on writing business letters. But a four-year liberal arts program reads Hamlet — and the student outcome is appreciably different.


  2. Yup. Nearly all of us in the family agree that unless a child yearns to have a career in a field that absolutely requires a degree or advanced degree, the best thing is trade school or community college, both of which often have businesses that work with them to offer apprenticeships.


  3. The attraction of an education in the trades can be amplified by adding courses in “Business Ownership.” Community colleges should be doing this as a matter of course.
    Better than being a highly-paid plumber is being the highly-paid owner of your own plumbing business.

    Graduates don’t have to open their own businesses immediately. In fact, it’s better if they work for a couple of years to get some experience. But they will always know that they are fully prepared to start a business if they choose.
    Some jobs programs even offer start-up capital to young first-time business owners.

    Another consideration that boosts the advantage of vocational education in community colleges is that the cost of a two-year college degree can be substantially reduced for those who quality for government grants such a a Pell Grant.

    Often the “low income” eligibility requirement can be met just by living independently for just one year.

    Teenagers should take a year off anyway so they’re not starting college at age 17 or 18 with absolutely no real-life experience, no work experience, no savings, and no knowledge of their future profession. Getting those things makes a gap year a gold mine of benefits and advantages.


  4. In our tri-county area, the local CC has a lot of support from businesses and county government. The investment is paying off with qualified local employees. And..I believe they do offer course such as the ones about which you wrote.


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