Hiding In Plain Sight: Bright Futures In Skilled Trades 

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 04/20/2019

The skilled trades labor crisis is real. As reported often in the Washington Post and other major media, there is not enough talent to fill the positions currently available in plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and more. As increasing numbers of parents send their kids to college, fewer families and schools focus on the lucrative earning potential that comes from learning a hands-on trade right in their community.

Complicating matters, students are leaving college with massive amounts of student loan debt, at a staggering average of $156,000 per student. In light of dwindling numbers of available entry-level positions for workers, the current economy might look like an impossible hole to climb out of. But there is more to it than meets the eye. 

For those embarking on careers in the skilled trades, the sky is the limit for potential career advancement and earnings. Instead of spending 4 years in college racking up debt, they're beginning careers that allow them to earn while they learn. These tradespeople can reach their mid 20's not only debt-free but well along the path to financial freedom. 

For these reasons, careers in the trades might be our country's best-kept economic secret and could be the key to rebuilding the middle class. As more people discover the abundance of jobs available and the earning potential of these jobs, young people are increasingly looking at successful futures, rather than standing at the starting line with a mound of debt in their way. The skilled trades offer good, stable careers with almost unlimited earning potential. 

Earning Potential

So, which skilled trades have the most earning potential? Here are just a few examples of skilled trades jobs that can pave the way for financial success:

  1. Carpentry: Constructing homes and commercial buildings by framing, building out structural elements, installing decorative details, and even creating cabinets and furniture.
    • Median salary: $42,700
    • 10-year projected job demand: 1,052,344
    • Training required: 12-week certification or 12-months as an apprentice
  1. Electrical: Bringing electrical power to residential and commercial buildings, appliances, and even large machinery by designing, installing, and maintaining electrical systems.
    • Median salary: $57,350
    • 10-year projected job demand: 844,451
    • Training required: 2-4 years with apprenticeship
  1. Plumbing: Keeping the water in homes and businesses flowing smoothly by designing, installing, and maintaining supply lines, waste disposal systems, appliances, and fixtures.
    • Median salary: $55,050
    • 10-year projected job demand: 622,117
    • Training required: 2-4 years with apprenticeship
  1. HVAC: Making certain indoor environments in homes and businesses stay comfortable by installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
    • Median salary: $57,600
    • 10-year projected job demand: 392,291
    • Training required: 6 months to 2-years
  1. Appliance Repair: Keeping homes (especially smart homes) and businesses operational by installing, repairing, and adjusting gas appliances, refrigerators, washers, dryers, and ovens.
    • $50,200
    • 10-year projected job demand: 43,034
    • Training required: 6-weeks to 6-months

What Works Best for You?

Whether you're interested in getting down and dirty with plumbing and HVAC, or would rather work from a technical perspective as an appliance repair specialist or electrician, there is a skilled trades job out there for you. As you can see, when combined, there are millions of job opportunities in the trades currently and not enough qualified candidates to fill the positions. As a result, the median salary will only increase, benefiting you now and in the long run.

After mulling over your interests, if you see yourself in the skilled trades, it's no secret that you can be guaranteed a future with high earnings, the potential for advancement, and job security. Help spread the word, because the truth can set this generation free. 

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