College has long been known for the place to broaden your mind and give you higher earning potential. However, with the rising costs of college and variety of online choices to get real-world preparation for a job, more students are looking at alternative options. Luckily, one of those options has been to consider working in the trades! Especially with the Labor Gap, it’s a more competitive career path with more likelihood to get a high paying job right away after training. If you want to become a craftsman, you need your high school diploma, but you don’t need a college degree. However, you still may want to get some sort of degree or certification to maximize your earning potential and/or learn the skills necessary for your trade. Here are some things to consider as you’re deciding:
Can you afford it?
If you haven’t saved all the funds you need for a 4-year degree, this means you’ll likely have to take out a loan to pay for it. This, unfortunately, is the common situation for most students. In fact, two-thirds of college students graduate with debt, with the average amount owed being $26,000 – which is a 43% increase from just 7 years ago! And it’s important to know that student loans can not be discharged by declaring bankruptcy. So if you aren’t able to pay back your debt with a job, it will negatively affect your credit. With the recent-grad unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, guaranteed high-paying jobs (or jobs at all!) after graduation are not the norm like they used to be.
Are you just not sure about the trades?
If you are even just considering whether or not you want to be a craftsman, one great option for you would be to apply for an apprenticeship program. One of the drawbacks of a college degree is that you lose the earning potential while in school – and an apprenticeship allows you to get paid while you’re going to school. Many community colleges have apprenticeship programs, which facilitate you getting hands-on experience while also taking classes – which also helps you determine if you enjoy the work! Even if you decide not to pursue a career in the trades long-term, you’re better able to pay for your college in the meantime. We here at Madden have innovative apprenticeship programs in partnership with Portland Community College, which will lead you to become a certified licensed tradesman while working at different employers throughout your apprenticeship, rather than just one employer.
Do you know the specific skills you want to learn?
One of the criticisms of college is that it doesn’t give you specific skills that prepare you for the real world. However, with all of the recent innovations in the construction industry, there is definitely a rise in new technology applied on the job. This has created a need for a whole new kind of craftsman – one who can combine trade skills with technology skills. So, if you’re tech savvy, you may want to consider getting a 4-year degree in a field that gives you IT skills you can apply in this ever-changing landscape. Or if you have a passion for a specific kind of craft – it’s always going to help to get additional training! You can stand out for your talent when it’s unique and highly-tuned – becoming known as the expert compared to others in your field.
Do you want more opportunity?
If you want a boost to your construction career, getting skills with additional education can help add to your skills, demand, and paycheck! Some can be earned at a college, but others can be learned through a specialized institute or organization. For example, you could get a Management, Safety, or Leed Certification. All these new educational options will ultimately give students an upper hand with the ability to get hired faster with the skills needed to do a job that fits your passion and strengths best.
If you’ve been considering a career in the trades, call us here at Madden Industrial Craftsmen with questions and we can help you get the training you need! Whether you’re interested in our registered apprenticeship program, or just need some guidance as to your next step, we work with employers that are looking for talented craftsmen (or wanna-be-craftsmen) like you! Check us out at mici.com.