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Is a College Degree the Key to Success?

For years, it has been said that, in order to succeed, you must go to college. The advice has been heeded. The percentage of students enrolled in college has steadily increased – from 35% in 2000 to 41% in 2010. Tuition has increased exponentially as well. Average annual tuition in 2010 was $13,000 for public universities and over $32,000 for private colleges.

Is the return on investment worth the price of admission? In some cases, no. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 284,000 Americans with college degrees were working minimum wage jobs in 2012.

College is not a guarantee, and often, not even a requirement. It is an option, but foregoing college in an option too. There are incredible jobs available with amazing potential, challenging opportunities and great pay that do not require a bachelor’s degree. However, not attending college does not mean that your education comes to end. Post-secondary (past high school) education is not optional in today’s work environment. In order to compete for jobs, workers need skills training. You cannot simply become a welder or a mechanic or even a landscaper by desire and an online application alone.

Thanks to technological advances, what was once considered “blue collar” work has changed. There are computerized body shops, high tech construction equipment and even mechanized irrigation systems that need to be handled by qualified and knowledgeable workers.

Blue collar has become skilled trades. Opportunities exist, but training and certification are necessary. No employer is willing to turn over a multi-million dollar machine to a worker with no training. This would be like the Air Force turning over a jet fighter to a person who has flown a kite.

Just a generation ago, people could easily transition straight from high school into many different blue-collar jobs, but not today. Technology has taken over; almost every industry has incorporated technology into their business – from manufacturing to distribution to process management. Therefore, you need additional skills and know-how to run the many machines, diagnostic equipment and electronics involved. An apprenticeship, on-the-job training or even classes in a particular trade must be taken.

For example:

  • Welders melt and fuse metal parts together. Many types of apprenticeships are offered through welding unions, but many community colleges offer courses, too. Some employers provide training, but most prefer experienced welders or those with formal training.
  • Plumbers, pipe layers, pipe fitters install, maintain and repair complex residential & commercial pipe systems. Different types of schools offer different programs, and on-the-job training is available. Apprenticeships provide comprehensive training and are available through unions or contractors. Many states require licenses in order to prove experience and knowledge of local codes.

Blue-collar, skilled tradespeople, non-white-collar….no matter the name, they are the backbone of America. Without them, cars would not get repaired, leaky faucets would not get fixed, new bridges would not get built.

Snelling understands this, and we work hard every day to ensure that workers everywhere find positions that best match their skill sets – their best fit job. Take the time to figure out the type of job you like, and if you need help deciding on the trade that would best fit your temperament and skill set, try “Blue Collar and Proud of It” by Joe Lamacchia and Bridget Samburg.

Consider Snelling as part of your job search. We have offices across the nation and a talented staff that is ready to help you find your best-fit opportunity. Find your local Snelling office and begin your online job search today!