Blue-collar jobs are often seen as inferior to office work — but skilled trades are exceptions. Skilled labor is highly in-demand and companies are providing wages that are competitive to workers in the IT and STEM fields.
Skilled Work is Not Menial Work
Most blue-collar jobs require manual labor — but there is a big distinction between menial tasks and skilled work. Workers who practice a trade can demand higher compensations and companies go out of their way to recruit skilled workers or source them from companies charging high prices for staffing solutions. Unlike the usual blue-collar jobs, skilled work requires months of diligent training in trade school as well as additional training once you sign with a company.
Skilled trades can encompass the operation of tools and heavy equipment; knowledge in construction or crafting methods, practice in fine detailing, and many other crucial skills in various industries. With more and more high school graduates pursuing college, the pool of skilled workers has been diminishing — forcing companies to compete with each other in wages and benefits. The median earnings of skilled trade jobs stand at $40,000 for the first 5 years and $54,000 by the tenth year. The average office worker only brings in salaries of $37,000.
The Value of College Degrees are Dropping
While college may have been the ticket to a brighter future in the past decades — that fact isn’t so true now. Only 1 out of 3 college graduates will get to use their degrees in a related career — most of them graduating from STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). The rest will either be underemployed or work in jobs that don’t require advanced degrees. Most graduates will eventually settle for monotonous office jobs that require very little creativity or innovation — careers with very little space for growth. The declining value of college is partly due to the choices of the students themselves. High school graduates today will base their choice of courses on what they consider interesting — instead of what could earn them a career in the future. Having parents plan the careers of their kids might seem a little cruel, but it gives kids a better chance of success. Too many college students are choosing courses with very little career opportunities — only to end up in jobs that they could have landed with just a high school diploma.
Most In-Demand Trades
While most skilled trade jobs will provide high wages — there are some jobs that pay more than others. Licensed truckers are particularly sought after and even rookie drivers are commanding wages of over $50,000 in their first year. The construction industry is seeing a boom under the current administration — driving wages for skilled workers over $30 per hour. Manufacturing jobs are also on the rise and wages in the industry have always stayed above $25 per hour for skilled workers like machinists, welders, and fabricators.
A blue-collar job doesn’t mean a cut in pay. Learning a trade allows you to land a high-paying blue-collar career and avoid the daily grind of monotonous office work.