Last Updated on Apr 1, 2020 by James W

legal-work-1040cs060712The accepted wisdom is that it is a good idea to attend college and get yourself a degree, but there are a percentage of students who take this route, but would in hindsight, have been better off devoting that time to learning a trade that will allow them to earn a living throughout their working life.

Becoming a personal injury lawyer and working somewhere like Klezmer Maudlin PC where you could be dealing with construction accident cases, obviously requires the college route, but if you like working with your hands, it may well be worth floating the idea of going to trade school instead.


Cost can be an important factor

There are plenty of statistics around that suggest you could command a higher salary throughout your career if you graduate from high school, but some people are rightly questioning whether the difference is that substantial, especially when you factor in the cost of getting that education in the first place.

Take a study that was carried out by the Idaho Department of Labor as one example of the costs you have to contend with in order to get a degree. They calculated that the average bachelor’s degree in the U.S will set you back just over $125,000 and that has left many students saddled with debts of between $50,000 and $100,000 that they need to pay off by the time they graduate.

On that basis, you would certainly need to be earning a higher salary to be able to afford the loan payments, let alone the money you will have spent trying to fund your college lifestyle.

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No guarantee of work

Another definite cause for concern are the economic conditions that await you when you have finished your college degree, meaning that in the current environment, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will find the job that you want or the salary that your skills should command.

College degrees can be seen as a long-term career investment, but a growing number of students are wondering whether this is a gamble that won’t necessarily pay off, which is why the prospect of learning a trade might seem more appealing.


Learning a trade

There are a number of obvious advantages attached to deciding to learn a trade.

One of the most obvious plus points is that you are not required to invest in an expensive education, instead you can learn your trade through an apprenticeship scheme, that takes less time to complete, and you are learning and earning on the job from the beginning.

It also seems to be the case that there is no visible signs of any shortage of work for anyone who has a trade. This is an important consideration as it means that investing in a skill that there is a constant demand for, should be rewarded with a career where you are even earning money while you are learning and can then have the potential to go on and earn a good living for yourself, without the levels of student debt that you would have if you went to college to get a degree.

If the idea of learning a trade appeals to you, give it some serious thought, rather than just thinking that the college route is the default option.

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Kate Edwards is a careers consultant who works mostly with students offering alternative careers advice when further education is not right for them. She writes career advice articles too, for those just starting out in their career as well as those looking to change direction.


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