It seems like everyone is told they need to go to college for a 4-year degree. Parents, teachers, and counselors can often make it seem like that is the only way to get a good paying job. There’s no shortage of stories in which parents see a trade worker and tell their kids to stay in school or they’ll end up in the same boat, working long hours, outside, in miserable conditions. However, a career in a trade industry can provide a great income and job stability. For many people, it can also provide them with higher job satisfaction than a career in an office. Not every person wants to sit at a desk all day.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2017 median income for the following trade careers as:
Electrician – $54,110
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters – $52,590
Line installers and repairers – $64,190
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers – $40,240.
Many of these careers, and others which are similar, require little to no education beyond high school and provide on-the-job training. Additionally, many positions in the trade industry go unfulfilled because so many young adults are pressured to go to college. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/25/605092520/high-paying-trade-jobs-sit-empty-while-high-school-grads-line-up-for-university
Not only can trade skills be lucrative for those who aren’t interested in a 4-year education, but they’re vital to the success of the U.S. economy, including the STEAM industries. Trade workers are necessary for construction of many structures, and the knowledge that trade workers bring to a project is important to its success.
Often, a trade worker can tell an engineer whether or not a design will work, even if the engineer is confident in her calculations. Additionally, new trade careers are being created as technology advances, and those willing to learn how the new technology operates have a vast future ahead of them.
Many trade careers should also be viewed as STEAM careers. Just because a career doesn’t require a 4-year degree doesn’t mean it involves little to no science, technology, engineering, art, or math. Many of these careers involve multiple disciplines of STEAM knowledge, whether it’s how different materials transform under different temperatures or pressures, or how large a pipe should be to carry a certain flow. Trade jobs should not be viewed as lower-class jobs for uneducated people. If your Engirlneer is interested in a trade career, encourage her to explore it as a viable career. In doing so, you may help her find her calling.