I know this flys in the face of everything you’ve been taught. All most guys ever hear in school is “go to college”, like it’s the magic answer to all of your problems. These same people will quote the statistic that college graduates make $45,000 per year but high school graduates only make $30,000. $15,000 per year for 30 years is $450,000 more money! Who wouldn’t sign up for college after hearing that? Even if the average bachelor’s degree in the US costs $127,000, you’re still over $300,000 to the good.
All of that is true. The problem is, it only tells part of the story, because it assumed the only two choices are a high school diploma or college degree. Actually there’s a Door Number 3-Trade School.
Here’s a partial list of the jobs trade schools can train you for:
- Computer Tech
- HVAC Tech
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Power Company Lineman
Two responses are usually:
“But only dummies who can’t get into college go to trade school, right?”
“You can’t make any real money doing those jobs, can you?”
Before I give you the numbers, let me tell I know several guys who went the trade school route and they have all done really well. One even had his house paid off years before he retired.
The numbers don’t lie.
The average yearly salary for a trade school graduate is $42,000. Remember the average salary for a college grad? $45,000. Yep, just $3,000 difference. I know that’s still $90k over 30 years but that’s only part of the picture.
That bachelor’s degree that enabled you to make that extra $90k, cost you $127,000 but the trade school graduate only spent on average $33,000. A difference of $96,000! So in reality the college graduate could end up $6,000 behind the plumber when it’s all said and done.
I know I haven’t accounted for raises and I want my doctor, dentist and lawyer to have a degree, but my point is college is not automatically the best choice for every guy. Some guys have a natural ability to work with their hands. They’re great mechanics, electricians or whatever and going to a 4 year university is a waste of time and money. This may be one of the reasons there is a 40% college dropout rate.
Another advantage is these kinds of jobs don’t get shipped overseas. It’s kind of hard for a mechanic in India to change the brakes on my car. Plus, you may have to move, but I’ve never met an honest, hard-working mechanic who was out of work. Or you can always be you’re own boss.
I’ve got a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, so I’m obviously not anti-college. What I am is a realist. It’s not hard to see that we are running out of skilled tradesman and that means the ones who are in it will be able to name their price. That’s why guys need to think very seriously before they make a $94,000 mistake.