If you want a career that allows you to do hands-on work and make a good salary while your friends are still finishing their four-year degrees, the Trades and Careers might be for you.
Ready to get started? We’ve ranked the Top Online Community Colleges, all of which will prepare you for high-powered trades and careers.
But if you aren’t already familiar with these fields, you might hold some common misconceptions. Old stereotypes about the trades include ideas that the work is dirty, dangerous, doesn’t pay well, and doesn’t require much skill or education.
These ideas could hardly be further from the truth! Today’s jobs in the Trades and Careers call for highly skilled workers. And in a modern machine shop, for example, you can expect to work in a bright, clean, safe facility.
And what about the money? You might be surprised at the salaries that workers in the Trades and Careers end up taking home – many of them make more than the average worker with a bachelor’s degree.
Want to learn more? Check out the Trades & Careers homepage.
Fields of Study in the Trades & Careers
Most programs in the Trades and Careers are associate degree or certificate programs, although some schools offer bachelor’s degrees. Apprenticeships or on-the-job training are also available for some jobs, like carpentry or plumbing.
A few common fields in the Trades include:
- Information technology (IT)
Career education also includes specialized training for fields like:
- Culinary arts
- Law enforcement
- Medical imaging
All Trades and Careers education shares a focus on hands-on training. These programs tend to be intensely focused on producing employable graduates, so you can expect to spend plenty of time doing real-world work while you learn.
Why Choose the Trades & Careers?
If the thought of sitting at a desk for the rest of your life makes you want to jump out of your skin, there might be a place for you in construction or welding.
If you are fascinated by new technology, like 3D printers or robotics, you might be cut out for a career in the manufacturing or electrical fields.
And if you’re a detail-oriented problem solver who would love to use your tech skills to help an organization run more efficiently, IT or a related field could be the answer.
In any of these fields, you can get started with a two-year associate degree, or less. You’ll probably bring in a salary comparable to traditional four-year college grads, without taking on four years of student loans.
The Future of Work in the Trades and Careers
The future of the Trades and Careers will see the rise of new-collar jobs alongside traditional blue-collar and white-collar careers.
So, what’s a new-collar job? In 2016, IBM CEO Ginni Rometti wrote an op-ed in USA Today describing a new category of worker:
“As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills…at a number of IBM’s locations spread across the United States, as many as one-third of employees don’t have a four-year degree.”
For these rapidly growing new-collar jobs, relevant training in a specific technology is more important than having a four-year degree.
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