Reducing the Stigma of Trade Careers

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

When you think of a successful career, what jumps to mind? An engineer? A doctor? A lawyer?

What if you were told that not all successful careers needed multiple years of education? Here’s the honest truth: you can get paid incredibly well at careers that don’t need a lot of education and experience. 

The trades, typically more manual positions, include electricians, plumbers, mechanics, medical imaging positions, law enforcement, and cosmetologists, just to name a few. While each of these requires specialized training, the cost and time associated with each are much less than that of a more traditionally “successful” career. Don’t automatically assume that you won’t be fulfilled with these positions, either!

It often takes decades to become a partner at a law firm, as an example, but with just a few years under your belt, you could be running your own electrician or plumbing company, and spend less time working than many people who go to school for 8+ years to earn their degree. You can earn good pay while also being fulfilled by running an entire business – that’s nothing to scoff at. 

So, if the pay is good, why is there a stigma about trades? 

People often assume that if you’re working in a trade or specialized position that your job has long hours, is dirty, and unfulfilling. Why is this? Honestly, a lot of it has to do with a lack of information regarding those positions, lack of exposure to these positions, as well as old stereotypes that aren’t true. 

According to a survey done by The Manufacturing Institute, 52% of all teenagers aren’t interested in the trades as a career path, and of those teenagers, 61% perceived manufacturing careers as dirty and taking place in dangerous places.

When you work in a machine shop, for example, the idea is that there are piles of old rusty metal just sitting in corners. Not true. In reality, a successful machine shop is well-lit, clean, and employees wear appropriate protective clothing and gear, including hearing protection. 

In the end, there is just a clear lack of information so kids don’t enter into these positions even though they are often high-paying, good careers.

If you’re looking to change up your dead-end career or thinking about what it would take to switch into a trade position, consider what you find enjoyment in. If you like trouble-shooting and working with your hands, something like an electrician would be an ideal position for you. ABC Heart of America has an electrician apprenticeship program that can put you on the right pathway to get your career started. If you’re looking for a more creative or artistic position, going in to cosmetology might be an option worth looking in to. 

A 4-year college tuition, which doesn’t guarantee a job, runs around $40,000 dollars, while a trade school is much closer to $10,000, and offers a higher chance of being put into a job immediately. Some trade schools will go so far as to place you in a position directly. 

While trade schools and careers don’t get a lot of the limelight, you can have a successful, well-paying, fulfilling position in a trade career.

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