What’s The Better Path? Skilled Trades or College For Recent Graduates

Young people, millennials and Gen Z job seekers want to know what career path they should choose—College or the Skilled Trades.

That’s a tricky question to answer. Much of it depends on what you’re looking for from a career choice, right now and into the future. Personality type, work-lifestyle preferences, and skills also play a role.

Here, we will provide some valuable information on this controversial topic and then let you make the final decision. As always, we’re here to help with your questions in any way we can. So give us a call anytime.

There is one indisputable fact in the current job market—skilled trades jobs are plentiful, and tradespeople are in demand.

There is one indisputable fact in the current job market—skilled trades jobs are plentiful, and tradespeople are in demand.  

A recent statistic from Business Wire sums it up perfectly: In the past 30 days, over 119,000 jobs have been posted for skilled trades-related jobs, bringing the number of active skilled trades job openings across the U.S. to roughly 281,000. The average number of job postings in the sector has increased 46% from this time last year and is up 32% compared with the pre-pandemic job market. The average hourly wage is roughly $22.50, with average annual earnings of nearly $47,000 a year.

As we pointed out in a previous post, these are great jobs that provide excellent career opportunities for job seekers and younger people in the workforce in general. 

Some things to consider are the cost of training for the trades vs. getting a college degree, and the time it takes to start earning a paycheck and benefits. On top of that, you’ll need to make some personal decisions, work-lifestyle decisions.

What’s the bottom line?

Trade school will cost between $10,000 and $20,000. An apprenticeship will take about two years to complete. Employers will sometimes pay all or part of the tuition, and usually, you’ll be working and making a paycheck during your apprenticeship.  

College will cost between $50,000 and $250,000 and will take 4-6 years to complete depending on the degree. Typically, college students will not work at all or work part-time during their college years. 

So you’ll need to make some tough decisions about when you want to start making a full-time paycheck and getting your career underway.

Lastly, you need to do a self-evaluation of your work-lifestyle goals.  At a high level, if you’re the kind of person who prefers working on different projects that require physical and mental acuity, the trades may be a great choice. If you’re more inclined to more sedentary, repetitive office work, college may be a better choice. 

Still Need Assistance? Give us a call.

Tell us about your career path and the kinds of projects and companies you are looking for. We’ll connect you with quality contractors and projects that match your skills and expectations.

Are you a tradesman looking for a new job opportunity? Or maybe you’re looking for a change of scenery on a new project or location? Call us today at one of our four New England office locations:

Or get in touch online. Our expert skilled trades recruiters are waiting for your call.