Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a college degree to get a great job.
College isn’t for everyone. While studying arts, science and literature might thrill some people, others prefer the more practical side of life, working with their hands and securing jobs that never go out of fashion. College or trade school/apprenticeship. There’s no right way for everyone, only the right path for you and your unique work happiness style.
Whether you’re deciding between college or trade school, considering a new career direction or thinking through the best trade to go into, we’ve gathered the info to help you make a clear and informed decision.
The trades (also known as blue collar work) are ever popular, mainly because they are always needed for thriving towns, cities and the world. But what exactly is a trade job, and how do you find a blue collar trade job?
What is a trade job?
“A trade job is any occupation typically requiring specialized skills learned through advanced training, rather than a 4-year college or university. Common types of career preparation for trades jobs include vocational training at a trade school, apprenticeship or on-the-job training...Skilled trades jobs are occupations that require a special skill, knowledge or ability that can be obtained through a vocational school, college classes or specialized training.” (Tulsa Welding School).
Skilled trades in the construction and manufacturing industries, in particular, are growing wildly. And that makes jobs in these industries, as well as several others, a great career choice. In fact, while many people think that trade jobs mean a low income and barely getting by, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is that there are a number of trade jobs that have excellent pay, even higher than some white collar jobs.
Why you should consider a trade job
“The job market of the future will consist of those jobs that robots cannot perform. Our blue-collar work is pattern recognition, making sense of what you see. Gardeners will still have jobs because every garden is different. The same goes for construction workers. The losers are white-collar workers, low-level accountants, brokers, and agents.” - Michio Kaku
Today, the majority of trade jobs are held by baby boomers. Over the next few years, as the boomers retire, there will be a noticeable gap in the work space. Companies will need to fill thousands of open positions across the country. Because many young people today, unlike their parents and grandparents, seem to favor standard white-collar jobs, the opportunities opening up in the trades will be plentiful for those skilled enough to handle them.
And yes, the trades require real skill. While it might not matter how well-read you are in Shakespeare, you’ve got to know your stuff when it comes to electrical wiring, house painting, plumbing, landscaping, and much more.
So why do people choose trade careers over white collar jobs? There are a number of reasons that trade careers/blue collar jobs are so popular.
1) Trade jobs in a number of industries are growing rapidly.
2) You don’t have to attend a 4-year school. In fact, many programs can be completed in a number of months to 1.5 years.
3) Trade schools are much more affordable than universities.
4) Many people hate the idea of a “desk job” and prefer to work with their hands, doing practical work that brings noticeable results.
5) There are many opportunities to find the right trade career direction.
6) As baby boomers retire, there’s a large and growing demand for skilled trade workers.
7) Trade jobs often have or require apprenticeships, where you continue to learn in a hands-on way while getting paid for your work.
8) Opportunity to learn practical new skills you can use in your daily life.
9) Start your career with no college debt.
10) Start your own entrepreneurial venture with the skills you’ve learned and the certifications you’ve earned.
What does it take to get a trade job?
Choose a trade:
Decide what time of work you’d like to do, what types of hours you’d like to work (days or nights), indoors or outdoors, etc, and then choose your trade.
There are many schools and programs that will prepare and certify you to do the type of work of your choice. Do an internet search for schools in your area offering training programs. Some adult schools also offer some trade education.
Once you’ve got the knowledge, you need to prove you know what you’re doing to obtain a certificate. Consider it the degree of the trade world. Your certification proves to employers or clients that you have specialized knowledge in a specific area.
Once you have a certificate, you still need a license from your local licensing board before you can begin working your trade. But a license in one location doesn’t mean you are licensed wherever you go. If you move, you may need to check if your license is still valid, or if you need to take another test to get recertified in your new location.
Get a job:
CareerBliss specializes in helping people find their happy work. With more than 8 million job listings on our job board, we can help you find a job in the trade of your choice. Check out our job board, or read company reviews and research salaries.
What are the highest paying trade jobs for 2021?
While some of the most commonly known trade jobs include plumber, electrician, and construction, those are only the tip of the iceberg. If you are looking for a well-paying, exciting career, check out these great jobs, some of which can even reach into the six-figure camp if you’re really at the top of your game.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a plumber is $55,160. But it’s not unheard of for plumbers in some areas to earn over $86,000. And the top 10% of plumbers earn over $97,170! To anyone who thought blue collar jobs meant a poor living, here’s a hint: that’s more than a lot of white collar workers make.
- Elevator Mechanic
Elevator mechanics make a great living, easily earning around $84,990, according to the BLS. But this career choice means you have to be okay with small spaces and heights, because you can expect to be spending a lot of time in elevator shafts, setting up the mechanical equipment, repairing and maintaining.
- Airplane Mechanic
If the elevator shafts aren’t really your thing, but you love tinkering with mechanical things, then an airplane mechanic could be the job for you. You’ll get to make sure that airplanes are working properly, always ready and safe to fly. Plus you’ll earn a nice salary of around $64,310 (BLS). Not bad at all!
- Construction manager
If you are more of a managerial type who enjoys managing projects, making sure that everything is on budget, on deadline, etc, then a construction manager job could be right for you. Not only will you get to work with people, but you’ll feel fulfilled as you see projects come together before your eyes and under your leadership. Oh and did we mention that the median salary, according to BLS, is $95,260?
- Electrical Powerline Technician
This is a critical position, because you are responsible to make sure that the power flows to homes and businesses. Once again, you’ll need to be okay with heights, because you’ll be climbing electrical poles to install or repair wires. But you’ll earn around $65,700 a year for doing so.
- Home building inspector
As a home building inspector, you’ll earn a broad education in a number of skills, including electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Since you’ll be going from home to home inspecting whether everything is up to code or not, you’ve got to know a lot about a lot of things. Not only is this an exciting job for someone who loves to learn, but you can also earn around $60,710 per year median income.
- Landscape architect
Love the outdoors? Love design and art? Then this could be your dream blue collar job. Not only will you spend a majority of time outside, but you’ll earn a median salary of $69,360--and love every moment of it.
As you can see, there are many high-paying blue collar trade careers that provide many avenues for personal fulfillment in the work you do. Check out our job board to find an exciting company and job that fits your skills, or check out trade schools or programs in the
The CareerBliss Team
CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!