Trading College for a Trade

  • Video Overview:

    When it comes to career plans, Travis, a high school senior, intends to become an auto mechanic for Mercedes.

    “From what I’ve been told their first year they make around 40-thousand and then it just continuously goes up from there with more certifications and experience,” says Travis, age 18.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of auto service technicians and mechanics is expected to increase by almost 36,000 jobs through 2018. More entry-level workers will be needed, especially as the average lifespan of our vehicles is increasing. But some kids think repairing cars is beneath them.

    “It is something that is for certain populations frowned upon because it is not considered more of a professional job. But those jobs can be very well paying depending on what you want to do and your skill level,” says Debbie Brown, a career coach.

    Ms. Brown says while some blue-collar jobs are disappearing or getting out-sourced, like manufacturing and textiles, others … like plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work, pay well and are in demand. “If your car breaks down, you have to get it serviced if you want it to keep running. So sometimes people will put off repairs for a little bit, but they can’t put them off for too long.”

    What’s more, some students will enjoy physical jobs where they can work with their hands.

    “And there are so many people who are just not suited to sitting in front of a desk,” adds Ms. Brown. She says—-if students choose a trade instead of college—- parents and counselors should help guide them get the best possible training.

    “Find out what the best trade and technical schools are in your community (cut to) Talk to these people, find out the best match in terms of the program for them, and get them into the best programs,” she recommends.

    Discussion and Self-Reflection Activities

    • Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Are you physically fit? Are you good with your hands? Do you like to build and create things?
    • Compare possible employment opportunities to your strengths and weaknesses? Talk with your guidance counselor about internship or apprenticeship opportunities you might explore.
    • Research the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website What are the job prospects? What looks interesting? What training is required?
  • Career Readiness

    About the Program

    Today more than ever parents and kids might think that a college education is a requirement for a good job and a prosperous life. There just might be a trade off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are good opportunities and life-long careers in lots of trades. When it comes to career planning, there are many options to consider, in addition to college.

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