Consider construction: Pay often higher than jobs requiring bachelor’s degree

mechanical worker holding a ratchet wrench

by Deanna Quintana

As our children grow up, we continually ingrain in them that there is one route to success – a four-year degree. However, higher education is not solely defined by a bachelor’s degree. There are other paths that will guide them in the right direction before entering the workforce.

While there are misconceptions about the construction and skilled-labor industry, numbers prove that there are millions of jobs available in this field and compared to college graduates, they’re well-paid. The average starting salary for college graduates stands at $50,004; however, student debt is on the rise and the class of 2018 graduated with an average of $29,800 in loans. One of the most important reasons students choose to pursue a four-year degree is to land a high-paying job. The truth is, multiple careers in construction make an average of $65,000 per year and do not require a degree from a large institution.

This poses the question: How does one get higher education without going to a traditional college or university? The answer is simple: apprenticeships; technical or community colleges; and career and technical education (CTE).

Earning while learning

Apprenticeships provide valuable on-the-job training and are structured programs relating to the technical and academic competencies that apply to the job. In fact, the construction industry in the United States represents approximately 30 percent of all active, registered apprentices. Construction is one of the few industries where individuals are given the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge about a career, while earning a paycheck.

Technical or community colleges offer shorter time spent in school and can be just as beneficial and rewarding as a four-year degree. In these programs, minimal debt is incurred, and the skills and education obtained apply directly to careers upon graduation.

CTE prepares secondary, postsecondary and adult students with the hard and soft skills needed to build a successful career and life. Classes prepare students for a variety of high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.

While a four-year degree may be the path for some, it is not the only form of post-secondary education. Higher education is about acquiring skills and knowledge that will help you succeed in your desired career path.

Deanna Quintana

About the author: Deanna Quintana is a marketing intern at the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). She is learning about the industry and how to recruit and educate new craft professionals. This article is excerpted from a blog post, and reprinted with permission from “Breaking Ground: The NCCER Blog” at blog.nccer.org.

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