Finding a career that you love is not easy. First, you have to identify what you are passionate about. Then you have to figure out how you can pursue that profession through education, which often costs a lot of money. Finally, once you have landed that dream job, you have to perform well enough to stick around.
While the most advertised path to the workforce is through a four-year college degree and then a job in the same field as the degree, this is not the only choice available to aspiring professionals.
Learning a trade comes with a lot of potential. Education tends to be cheaper, and the focus is solely on the particular trade that you are pursuing. However, there are also some drawbacks to pursuing an education related to specific trades. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of learning a trade in the state of Tennessee.
Pro: Cheaper Education
A typical four-year degree can be expensive depending on the field of study and the institution. To obtain that degree, you will end up taking a lot of classes that are unrelated to your field of study but are crucial for general education. This drives up the price of tuition for students. The average annual cost of a trade school is around $17,600, whereas the average four-year degree costs about $56,320. That gap has grown in recent years as the price of an undergraduate degree has skyrocketed. There are also online options to prepare for the Tennessee contractor’s license exam that can save you money as well.
Con: Less Versatility
When you attend a trade school, all of your education is focused on the particular trade you have chosen. While this can be seen as a good thing, it can also have a negative impact. College degrees tend to be useful for various positions and even multiple industries. Your trade certification is only going to be useful for that type of skill. Someone who gets a communication degree from a four-year college has various options for a career path, while an electrician trainee at a trade school will only learn how to be an electrician.
Pro: Job Demand
Many trades are crucial parts of the job market. The world will always need electricians, mechanics, plumbers, and carpenters, no matter where technology takes us. This means that those who have obtained these skills can likely find work, whether as a solopreneur or joining a general contractor. The high demand for trade jobs should weigh heavily into your career decision.
Con: Limited Financial Aid
If you decide to attend a trade school, there are far fewer financial aid opportunities for your education. Many colleges offer diverse scholarship opportunities and the government can offer financial aid as well for two or four-year degrees. In general, there are fewer opportunities to reduce the cost of trade school, so you will be covering these costs yourself. Trade schools may be cheaper, but there is a significant barrier to entry without financial aid for lower-income students.
Pro: Valuable Skills
Learning a trade means obtaining skills that are very practical in life. With the skills you acquire from learning this trade, you could become a more effective DIY homeowner, allowing you to maintain a more sustainable home. Additionally, these skills can fetch you a pretty good salary right off the bat once you have completed your training and any apprenticeships. Trades are highly marketable skills, so as long as you continue to get re-certified, finding a well-paying job should be achievable.
Con: Limited Career Potential
Although many trades lead to well-paying jobs, the growth potential is very limited with this type of education. Once you are an electrician, there is only so far you can advance as an electrician. If you hope to hold more authoritative positions at a general contractor brand, then you may not be able to obtain them without an additional college degree. This means that career growth may be limited if you only have a certification from a trade institution.
Is Learning a Trade Worth It?
In most cases, trade workers would argue that their educational path was well worth it. Though they may have more limited options in terms of the type of job, they can get, and how far they can advance, the ability to enter the workforce quickly and get good pay immediately outweighs those costs.
Trades are crucial for the Tennessee economy because people will always need the things that these skill sets can provide, no matter where artificial intelligence and machine learning go. These skills are also very practical and can help you take better care of your home or your car. Consider learning a dependable trade skill for both your personal and professional aspirations.