There are so many ways to succeed in life, and not all of them require a college degree. It’s true that college can be a great experience for many young people. From the diverse class offerings to the social opportunities, it’s no wonder that it’s a top choice for high school graduates.
But, is it the only choice for a successful future? Not when it comes to construction.
There are many pros and cons to a traditional college education.
First, college is expensive. But do you know just how expensive it is? According to the Department of Education, the average annual increase in college tuition from 1980 to 2014 grew by nearly 260%. While that number is startling on its own, it far exceeds general inflation, which was only a 120% increase in all consumer items during that same time. It’s no wonder that one in five Americans have student loan debt.
Do these high costs outweigh the benefits? Potentially.
All that debt college students accrue doesn’t necessarily guarantee a high-paying job. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the general average salary for college graduates is only just about $50,000. Take out an average monthly student loan payment and you’re not left with much to pay everyday bills.
To succeed in construction, on the other hand, you don’t need a large amount of money to get started. Let’s explore how hopeful skilled laborers can learn their trade outside of the college setting.
One of the most popular ways to learn the ins and outs of a specific trade is through Community & Technical College training programs. Construction workers of all types need a solid education to get the job done right. We depend on their good work to make the structures and systems we use every day. Career tech programs often allow students to train while they’re still in school, meaning students to get the most out of their high school experience with training tailored to their future goals.
Not only can students get started sooner, these programs also take exponentially less time to complete than a typical four-year degree. You can get started in your career sooner, often before your high school classmates have even made it to sophomore year of college.
We love this educational path because high school students can choose to earn college credit for a two-year program or industry credentials to move forward with their career right away. Of course, if you’ve already graduated from high school or have been working in another field for years, you can still take part in a variety of educational opportunities across construction.
Another route individuals take to gain the skills and knowledge needed for a career in construction is through an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is where the real hands-on learning begins. A purposefully created combination of both on-the-job training and classroom education, this experience is where job skills become second nature.
Apprentices can begin as young as 16 years of age, but no matter your age, you earn in more ways than one. You earn a paycheck or employer-sponsored college credit from the very beginning, meaning you’re receiving both a stable income and valuable hands-on education in your field of choice, putting you even further ahead than the average college student.
No two paths to a career in construction are exactly alike. People from all walks of life appreciate that there is no such thing as a “cookie cutter” experience, which is common in colleges and universities. No matter which route you take, success starts immediately and continues throughout the duration of your career:
- Kentucky construction and extraction professionals earn an average of $48,150, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Specific trades have different levels of demand and compensation that increases with experience: for example, the BLS notes that Kentucky laborers earn $39,130 annually and mining machine operators can earn $61,660.
- Executives and managers can take home six-figure salaries.
These impressive salaries come without a pile of school debt, meaning more take-home pay for you early in your career and greater success in the long-run.
So what do you really need to succeed? In construction, it comes down to your hard work and dedication.