Exploring The Skilled Trades

The Myths Killing The Skilled Trades

Jason Burns
Sr Content Strategist

Posted 04/20/2019

Unraveling decades of bad habits is a time-honored American tradition. Preserved and fast food are killing you. Cigarettes are killing you. That credit card, student and car loan debt are drowning you. Each time you’ve listened. Each time, millions of lives have changed. Each time people agreed:

  • Debt is not a way of life.
  • Obesity is not a way of life.
  • Lung disease is not a way of life.

While those fights are long from over, they're important because they remind us of a tension. Which brings up another looming American tension:

  • Why are 6.4% of 16 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. neither in school nor working?
  • Why are 40% of the students entering four-year universities leaving college without a diploma?
  • Why are 28% of college graduates still living with parents several years after completing college?
  • And why are so many mid-year career professionals unhappy with their jobs?


Many Men Go Fishing All of Their Lives Without Knowing That It Is Not Fish They Are After.”—Henry David Thoreau 

Myth: all high-paying, rewarding careers require college degrees. Truth: If you hustle, you can make $100,000 or more without a degree.  You can have a meaningful career—and potentially a very lucrative business—without ever stepping foot in a classroom after your senior year of high school, even if you are now in your 30s, 40s or 50s.  

This is work for creatives and problem-solvers. It’s called the skilled trades—electricians, plumbers, carpenters, HVAC, appliance repair technicians, painters, masons, welders, and the list goes on.  

Don’t believe us?

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That’s it. We want you to see the reality behind the myth about the skilled trades. For example, a 2017 study by Lowe’s Home Improvement shows that most high schoolers believe the skilled trades are “dirty” and low-paying. Some believed there were no long-term opportunities in the trades. 

This conventional wisdom couldn't be farther from the truth. In the next decade, projections show there will be more than 3 million jobs available in this space—again many projected to pay six figures and up. 

The Future Is Clear

The population is growing, people are living longer than ever and natural disasters are becoming more frequent. Wherever there are homes, there are careers and small businesses in the trades. 

The skilled trades are a meaningful career path. This is important to consider because according to a 2014 Rasmussen study more than 31 million working American adults say they have no career path.

It's possible that you've never considered a career in the trades, based on myths you've been told about them. Maybe it's time to unravel those myths and look at the future in a way you never have before. 

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What’s Next

In the next blog, we’ll talk about how the modern American workforce got here and why so many people have turned their backs—often unintentionally—to these honorable, meaningful careers. We will touch on why the trades will be on the frontlines of solving societal issues in the future—safe and affordable housing, disaster repair and an aging society— and how you can be a part of the change.