Trade School Benefits for Construction Jobs
One of the biggest benefits to working in the skilled trades is the education required. While there are many positives to going to 4 years of school for a bachelor’s degree, there are also a few big negatives, including cost. Since 1990, tuition costs have risen over 300%, far outpacing the growth of the economy. When costs rise at 7-8% per year, while inflation grows 2-3% per year, you end up with a product that becomes unaffordable. For many folks, though, that unaffordability isn’t standing in the way, because student loans are easy to come by. Because of that, about 2/3 of students with bachelor’s degrees are leaving college with debt that averages $26,000 per student. That’ll make for a $300 monthly payment for a decade. (From experience, it’s a little depressing when your student loan bill is more than your car payment.) All in all, your average bachelor’s degree is likely going to cost you over $100,000 — closer to $150k if completely financed through loans.
The vast majority of training programs for the skilled trades, on the other hand, last from 6 months to 2 years, and will cost just over $30,000. Even if that cost is entirely financed by student loans, you’re looking at a total of $40,000, which is still a savings of at least $110k!
This makes for a huge opportunity cost for those going to 4-year colleges. You’re spending an extra 2-3 years in school, paying tens of thousands per year, while the tradesman is already graduated and earning money (in some cases, making six figures as a 21-year-old).
One final factor is simply that some 18-year-olds aren’t ready for a college environment. You’re thrown off the cliff from your warm and comfortable home life into total independence. It’s not an easy transition for anyone; in fact, about 40% of all undergrad enrollees will drop out before earning a degree.
Trade school offers a nice on-ramp to independence. You’ll often stay close(r) to home, you receive real-world, hands-on training from the get-go, and you aren’t spending every waking moment with folks your same age and in the same position in life (which can make for a difficult social transition once out of college). Again, there are certainly benefits to attending a 4-year university (we’ve outlined the pros and cons here), but the big pros of trade school are that you’ll save a lot on tuition, start being able to make money sooner, and can start taking measurable steps towards adulthood more quickly.