Moore: Many jobs in the trades pay more than what an average college graduate earns

By Bill Moore

My oldest daughter, Brady, recently purchased a house on Cape Cod. I couldn’t be prouder. She invited my wife, Maureen, and me down for our vacation and asked if we would help her out “organizing” the house.

Wikimedia Commons/Cukierspace

People who forego college to get a specialized degree in a trade can earn salaries of between $50,000 and $125,000. Some high-paying trade jobs include dental hygienist, electrician, radiation therapist, geological and petroleum technician, elevator repairer, air traffic controller and more.

The word “organizing” apparently means different things to different people. I figured this out after a week of painting ceilings and walls, sanding and refinishing hardwood floors, mowing the lawn, attempting to correct minor plumbing issues and assembling furniture for the new summer getaway.

All of this manual labor made me think about workforce issues and the need to strengthen our efforts to promote vocational education. Looking at the finished projects gave me a much greater appreciation for those who work in the trades. I had a genuine feeling of delight as each item on the checklist was marked “finished.” I thought about the pride in accomplishment that those in the trades must take in their finished products.

I also wondered why we don’t do more to urge our youth to consider the trades as a career track.

A career in the trades, whether it be in automotive, construction, mechanical, electrical, engineering or any other discipline is an honorable one that can make weekend carpenters and mechanics like me envious. Learning a skill that becomes a lifetime career is a tangible reward in and of itself. The financial reward is a strong one.

What are we doing to encourage young people to enter the trades? Consider this: There are hundreds of jobs in Vermont that do not require a college degree. Many economists agree that not everyone should have a college diploma, that many good-paying jobs in the trades pay more than what an average college graduate earns. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, points out that the average electrician makes $5,000 a year more than the average college graduate.

I remember Sen. Marco Rubio’s line during his 2016 presidential campaign that “welders make more than philosophers.”

As my generation heads off into retirement, there is a critical need to replace baby boomers in the workforce. The Vermont Futures Project (VFP), a creation of the Vermont Chamber, tracks our economy and our job needs. We need to replace approximately 11,000 jobs annually just to remain even with where we are today.

Vermont Futures Project uses a “six-pillar system to track the data on the Economic Dashboard annually. Each pillar measures a different area of economic growth with multiple data sets.” Those pillars are Economic Activity, Innovation and Entrepreneurs, Workforce and Talent, Vermont Demographics, Quality of Place and Infrastructure, and Investment.

On Economic Activity, we are “stagnant with little change which continues to be a growing concern.” More concerning are comments on Workforce and Talent: “This pillar continues to be a drag on economic growth.”

We need to reconsider what it is that we are doing to encourage entry into the trades. Trade schools and vocational and technical colleges and training provide career tracks that are financially rewarding. The careers available are honorable and provide life-changing opportunities. They are opportunities that cannot be outsourced. They are the key to success for many.

Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Cukierspace

6 thoughts on “Moore: Many jobs in the trades pay more than what an average college graduate earns

  1. Higher Education or Common Sense ??

    To all the college grads with a degree in something in the Social Accepted Degrees, that won’t
    get you a job, but it will get you Student Debt and the Colleges are laughing all the way to the

    I worked with my hands and a little “Common Sense ” my entire life. Common Sense something
    missing in today’s world from what I’ve seen, just look around.

    I retired at age 57, with a full pension and a hefty retirement account with No College degree and
    ” NO ” Student Debt…….. with a little technical training……….. Life is good !!

    What a college can’t teach you is Common Sense………..If your willing to go into debt in the
    hundreds of thousands just to say you went to college.

    Find a Technical Field, make a living…….Life is short.

  2. h/t to Dianny

    Dear High School Graduates: Skip College

    Back when I was a kid, the United Negro College Fund began a fundraising campaign with the slogan “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
    Which is absolutely true.
    Problem is, colleges and universities are the last place you should go if you don’t want to waste your mind. They might as well just saw off your skull cap and scoop out your brains with a melon-baller. And my advice to you if you are a recent high school graduate is simple.
    Skip college.
    The one thing missing from “higher education” today is, well, education. Instead, you are turned into a little parrot – dutifully chirping out drivel drummed into your head by professors who hold you in contempt for how easily you are misled. Why on earth would you waste tens of thousands of dollars – or worse get saddled with a crippling student loan debt – just to be told what to think by people who don’t know what they’re talking about? Spending a day watching MSNBC and reading through Leftist Twitter will do the same thing and costs virtually nothing. Hell, you could accomplish the same result with a lobotomy. And even that is cheaper than college.
    A mind absolutely is a terrible thing to waste. But colleges and universities are where the human mind becomes a wasteland. It’s where the ignorant go to gain a sense of superiority without the pesky inconvenience of learning anything. Four years later, you’d be just as ignorant, only you’d be insufferably arrogant about it.

    So do yourself a favor and skip college.
    The truth is, colleges and universities never had a monopoly on knowledge.
    But in this era where information is at our fingertips, they’re nothing more than relics of the past.
    Going to college is like continuing to wear chain mail and a suit of armor in the era of Kevlar.
    So skip college. Instead of spending money, why not earn some instead?
    Get a job – any job. You will learn a trade, develop a work ethic, and hone your critical thinking skills. More importantly, instead of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year, your employer pays you. Plus, the more you learn in your job, the more valuable you become.
    In other words, there’s something in it for you to learn more.
    And there is no better lesson in basic economics than having to pay bills, balance a checkbook and maintain a personal budget. After four years, you will be better equipped for the future than most college graduates with a liberal arts degree. Not to mention, you won’t be drowning in debt before you’re twenty-five.

    As I said a couple years ago: College is a racket.

    There is no such thing as market-based pricing. Why should there be? The Federal Government is guaranteeing student loans. Which means even if the graduate defaults, the colleges will still get their money.
    It’s a win/win for colleges and universities to keep jacking up the price.
    And what do you get out of it?
    Endless lectures about “White Privilege” and “Gender studies.”
    Angry harangues from overpaid professors about the evils of America.
    Honestly, why pay so much money to a college to be abused on a regular basis? If you want to pay for that kind of abuse, go to a dominatrix. It’s cheaper.
    Don’t waste your money.
    Don’t waste your time.
    And for heaven’s sake, don’t waste your mind.
    Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  3. While you can make a good living on Cape Cod or Mass. in the trades,in Vermont and New Hampshire you’re on foodstamps.The unionized labor down there does indeed lift all boats.Vermont and New Hampshire the company owners are greedy is all I can say.They pay up here what I made in the 80’s back in America.

    • Stick with the college and move out of Vermont or New Hampshire if you want to have a decent life.

    • Auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, welders, machine tool and CNC trades are in demand and pay very well everywhere. Especailly when compared to college grads with baccalaureate majors in history, literature, sociology, politcal science, ethnic studies of all kinds, culinary, recreation and education degrees of all kinds.

      The Catch 22 with a college degree is that a graduate degree is required to even begin to compete with many trades. And, of course, that’s because the college educators are doing what they can to justify their own, otherwise worthless, college degrees.

      • In this area (Vt. & NH.) CNC related companies expect training,experience,and $3-5 thousand worth of personal tools for use.They pay between $17-$20 per hour with no pension.Totally not worth it! They’re screaming for workers but the pay doesn’t rise.Where is the law of supply and demand in the labor market? non-existent as far as I can tell

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