The FSG Blog

News & Insights

The latest company updates, industry news, and expert analysis from FSG.

The Skilled Trades: Earning More Money Without College Debt

Colleges and universities are big business. In 2018, the National Center for Education Standards estimated a total college enrollment figure of just under 20 million students . Despite a slight downturn in enrollment figures between 2010 and 2016, the number of total enrollments is expected to trend upward over the next decade.

But is college smart business? Better yet, is college the best option for everyone?

The short answer appears to be: not necessarily.

According to a recent article published by Bloomberg, many well-paying trades are going under-staffed as more and more students opt for four-year degree programs. This has left a huge opportunity for folks who would prefer to work with their hands, aren’t eager about taking on tens of thousands in college debt, or who are ready to jump into the workforce right out of high school.

Aircraft mechanics ($65,000), plumbers ($58,000), and heavy equipment mechanics ($53,000)  all earned more in 2018 than the national average for all occupations, including those that require an undergraduate degree ($52,000).

Also among those jobs offering better compensation than the national average was that of electrician. In 2018, American electricians could expect to earn an average of $59,000.

Why are these skilled trades earning more money? The answer is simple economics. As the national unemployment rate drops below 4 percent, and as more high schoolers choose to attend four-year colleges and universities, the skilled trades have a smaller and smaller talent pool from which to draw new employees. As supply shrinks and demand increases, prices (or, in this case, wages) rise accordingly.

To put it another way, this is a great time to look for a position in these industries. Not only can you make more money to afford a generally higher cost of living, but you may find that working in a technically-demanding, hands-on job offers as much or more satisfaction than a position that requires a college degree.

FSG has recognized, not only the need for more skilled individuals in the electrical trade, but also the opportunity to help people get into a great career without having to wonder how much they will have to pay to get that career.

As one of the largest electrical contractors in the nation, FSG is always looking for competent, capable, and reliable team members that have a passion for the electrical industry. The problem is that the electrical trade does require a set of skills and care that if not properly learned can lead to costly mistakes or injuries.

To help overcome this problem of needing to educate people, but not wanting to burden those people an unreasonable cost for that education, FSG has implemented several large scale electrical trade training programs through NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research)

Through this program, team members can learn the skills necessary to become well rounded electricians while also still earning a paycheck working on real projects and job sites.  

The result is that FSG team members that go through the NCCER program come out of the program well established in a trade that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Colleges and universities can still offer a great value to people looking for a specific career track in life. However, the ever-increasing amount of debt necessary to secure a four-year degree means that jobs in the skilled trades still make a huge amount of sense well into the 21st century and FSG can tell you— the jobs will be there!

Related Articles