It is difficult for many Millennials to find and maintain work during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many are either looking in the wrong places to find a job, or they’re simply following outdated advice.  

Growing up we hear from our parents, teachers and mentors the importance of working hard in school, going to college, receiving a degree and eventually, using that degree to get a “good job.” But what actually defines a good job? Do you have to attend a four-year college or university to find one, or are there occupations in other industries, such as skilled trades, that also define good jobs?

Expanding the definition of a good job – and a “good education” – is paramount to encourage young people to find a career that suits them, which may be outside of a traditional four-year college experience. Many trades may take years to master, but there are more opportunities and higher pay in trade industry jobs. Below are a few reasons why a skilled trade career may be more beneficial for many, especially given the current climate.

Pros of a skilled trade career

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that there were around 6.6 million open jobs at the end of July and many of the companies looking to hire lie in skilled trade industries. The problem is, these companies have been constantly looking for workers long before this pandemic, due to the outdated thought that a “good job” can only be found after attending college. Inaccurate negative connotations about careers in the trade industry have also bubbled up.

Professionals in skilled trade industries reap many benefits that most people are unaware of, such as job availability, as construction always needs done, substantial pay, as many skilled trade workers can consistently make $50,000, over 25% can make $60,000, and 10% can even make over $80,000, job security and much more. People looking for skilled trade positions can find numerous types of openings and ones that pay very well – especially compared to those that most bachelor’s degree owners pursue.

Careers in the skilled trade industries can also be incredibly stable compared to those of their bachelor’s degree holding counterparts, particular as people enter the workforce. The average age of employees in skilled trade jobs is 40 years old, and with the average retirement age in the U.S. at 64, employers are desperately looking for their next long-term employees. This means young people who enter this workforce can have long standing careers as older workers continue to filter out.

Trade school vs. a four-year college

Deciding between a four-year college or a trade school can be tough for any young person right out of high school. For those who choose the trade school route, there are many advantages that come with it, one of which being the reduced length of time in school. Trade schools offer a unique alternative to traditional colleges as they operate on two-year programs compared to spending four (or more) years at a traditional college. This is due to trade school attendees taking specialized classes and programs, rather than the traditional core-curriculum classes offered at colleges and universities. For those interested in only taking courses specifically about the skills or subject matter of interest, this type of education is ideal.

Another benefit of attending a trade school, and to some, the most important, is the cost. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a traditional four-year university will cost an average of $127,000 compared to $33,000 for a two-year trade school program. In four years, students have roughly four times the amount of costs to pay off. This incredible difference in cost could prevent a student from being one of the more than 45 million people drowning in student loan debt. While they are in trade school, those in the industry are getting real experience – and oftentimes making substantially more than what most four-year degree students will make even after five years. While there is in fact value in a college education, it is not necessarily valuable for every person. 

Personal and professional fulfillment

While personal and professional fulfillment can be reached in almost any career or profession if you enjoy what you do, many may not realize their passion for a specific skill until they’re on the job. Once that passion and enjoyment is found, that professional fulfillment is something that can drive continued growth.

Serving as President of Hoosier Contractors, I’m honored to help people through the jobs we do across the state of Indiana. Each project we conduct has a different story, many of which involve recent storm damage. For homeowners, damage to the homes they have spent so much time and effort on can be despairing, especially if it’s extensive and costly. The quality of the job we do in fixing people’s homes and helping Hoosier families has an invaluable impact beyond the repairs. Knowing you’re helping others in multiple ways brings an added to bonus to an already fulfilling and enjoyable career.

As our economy and workforce continue to evolve in this new global climate, it’s time to evolve what we define as a “good job.” Some are destined for a skilled trade career, and if we can highlight the many benefits these trade jobs can bring and loop these professions into what we consider “good jobs,” our workforce and economy can take huge leaps forward in a time where it’s absolutely necessary.

“Work smarter not harder” shouldn’t be the phrase of business. The best comparable phrase for society, business, and especially individuals should always be “work smarter and harder.”  

About the Author
A local veteran, Josh White has served as the President of Hoosier Contractors since 2013. Hoosier Contractors is a locally owned and operated residential and commercial contracting business serving the greater Indianapolis area. Using a customer-first approach to build business, Hoosier Contractors’ services include roof repair and replacement, gutters, siding, painting, home construction and more. Hoosier Contractors is part of the National Roofing Contractor Association and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

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