Whether your child just turned 13 or graduation is right around the corner, it's never too early or too late to start thinking about life after high school. Most kids – and parents – are programmed to push a college education on their children, but college isn't for everyone (and that's okay).
In fact, there is a growing demand and shortage of tradespeople. Here are four reasons teens should consider a career in trades.
1. College is Expensive
The average cost of tuition at a private college in 2016-2017 was about $25,409, according to Refinance Student Loans.
About 70% of students take out loans to cover the cost of their education, which is keeping graduates from buying homes, getting married and starting families.
On top of the cost for tuition and supplies, college students also need money for food, dorming, entertainment and even doing their own laundry.
A trade school degree, on the other hand, costs about $33,000 – for your entire education. That's equivalent to about one year of private college tuition. You'd save nearly $100,000 by choosing a trade school over conventional college.
While trade school is cheaper than college, students will typically still have to take out loans to cover the full cost of their education. But instead of graduating with about $30,000 in debt (like most college students), trade school students walk away with only about $10,000 in debt.
2. Training is Quicker
A bachelor's degree takes, on average, four years to complete. With a trade school, training only takes two to three years on average.
Depending on the trade, there may be hands-on training involved. Some trades offer paid hands-on training and apprenticeships, which allow trainees to earn income while learning their new skills.
Even if the apprenticeship or training is unpaid, your teen will be able to start working and earning income two years earlier than those attending conventional college.
3. The U.S. Needs More Tradespeople
After many decades of pushing college degrees, the U.S. is in need of skilled tradespeople. Trade skills are in high demand, as more high school graduates are choosing to attend college.
In California, the number of students taking trades courses has dropped from 31% to 28% since 2000.
According to Georgetown center, there are more than 30 million jobs in the U.S. with average salaries of $55,000 that don't require a bachelor's degree. Those with trade skills are actually more likely to find employment because there's a shortage of tradespeople.
Take plumbers, for example. Plumbers earn a median salary of $51,450 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs is expected to increase by 16% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. And with new technologies like trenchless pipe lining, which are making plumbing more high-tech, the pay is likely to increase in the coming years.
4. Trades Offer More Job Security
A career in the trades will offer more job security. Many white-collar jobs are now being outsourced to other countries where labor is cheap. Automation is also a very real concern for many college graduates.
It's difficult to outsource trade technical trade jobs, like electricians, plumbers and carpenters. Robots probably won't be taking over these jobs anytime soon either. There's also a growing demand for workers with high-precision skills.