5 Reasons You Should Consider Trade School Instead of University

vocational school

Are you dreaming about a career where you stay active, both mentally and physically, earn a good living wage and start your adult life with little or zero school debt?

If the answer is yes, keep reading to see why enrolling in a trade school rather than college or university might be what you should aim for.

In a dynamic and constantly changing job market, high-school students face some tough questions about their future careers. Many feel the guidance and advice received from school and parents does not always resonate with who they are or what they like doing.

Before the 2008 recession, the “expected” career path for high-school graduates was to go to college or university and get a good office job upon graduation.

The post-recession reality painted a somber picture for university graduates.

In Canada, unemployment or underemployment among those who graduate from college and university is higher than the general average, while the costs of attending a university are constantly rising. The average 4-year degree costs in excess of 100k when rent and other expenses are factored in, which leaves many students heavily in debt upon graduation.

Moreover, many university graduates usually have to settle for underpaid, often precarious jobs, that don’t match their qualifications, let alone their dreams at the end of high-school.

In contrast, those enrolled in skilled trades face a much rosier outlook. The demand for skilled work has never been higher, with good paying opportunities available across many trades.

Traditionally, working in trades has been associated with low paid, hard, dirty factory work, and viewed as an inferior career choice compared to white collar, office jobs. Below are 5 fact-based reasons that contradict this perception, and make enrolling in a trade school a solid choice for a fulfilling professional life.

    1. Graduate in half the time, with real-life work experience. If the perspective spending four years stuck indoor studying does not look appealing to you, enrolling in a trades program might be the alternative you are looking for.

      Unlike university graduates who spend most of the 4-year program learning the theoretical aspects of their field in class, trade schools offer students a more practical, hands-on approach. As a student you will get a chance to learn from experienced professionals and gain valuable work experience during your studies.

      Moreover, most apprentice programs are only 2 years long, allowing graduates to earn a good income faster.

      2. Pursue a very satisfying career -office jobs are not always as fulfilling as they are perceived to be. Many white-collar workers complain about the slow pace of the work environment, and spending time in front of the computer with not much to do.

      Trades people don’t have time to get bored. Their work is usually structured as such that there is something to work on at any given time. Moreover, the outcome is immediately visible, which offers a great sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done that makes a difference.

        3. Make good money-another myth is that trades job pay much less than while collar jobs. In fact, with a little bit of experience in the field and some overtime work, a 6-digit income is not beyond reach.

          There is also good news for those who plan to be their own boss. Since many homes and business are in need of renovation, plumbing, electrical, and roofing services, specializing in these fields offer great opportunities to start your own businesses, where the earning potential is only dependent of the quality of your work and your business skills.

            4. Work with your hands and brain -office jobs often require a lot of sitting in front of the computer, inside an office, which has very negative long-term health effects. Working in trades will require you to use both your brain and your hands. Long gone are the days when trade work meant heavy physical work. The automation that happens in most industries requires tradespeople who are able to troubleshoot, fix and maintain complex pieces of equipment, most of it computerized. In other words, trades work can be more high tech that many office jobs.
              5. Learn a skill that cannot be outsourced-the globalization of economy and improvements in communication has led to many highly paid jobs being outsourced to countries with cheaper labour, or completely automated.

                That said, people will still need people to fix their roof, operate machinery, maintain airplanes and perform electrical work. While no job is 100% secure, it’s safe to say that there will always be a need for local skilled, hands on work, so the changes of your job being outsourced are very slim.. This means that the demand for skilled labor will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

                With many baby boomers working in trades approaching retirement or already retired, a career in trades looks like a very wise decision. Of course, the decision to pursue such a career does not only come down to money and job security. This has to be for you, something you really enjoy doing, as you will be spending most of your active year building a career, which requires motivation and determination.

                Image credit: Public Affairs Bureau photograph, Provincial Archives of Alberta
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