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Are you going to pursue a career or simply a degree without knowing why?

Jun 17, 2020

As a high school senior, choosing a career may seem like a monumental task; it is one which many people don’t even begin to address until their late 20’s or 30’s. Given the considerable expense of a four-year college education today, however, it is an important decision to try to make before embarking on one’s post-high school journey.

What does a career pursuit look like? A student identifies a passion or skill set to be developed, or an end game in terms of a future job, and then determines the steps needed to be successful on this path. Banker, welder, small business owner, electrician, lawyer, machinist, consultant, automotive tech, carpenter. These are all obviously careers, with varying paths associated with them.

What, on the other hand, does a degree pursuit look like? A student is undecided about a future career path, believes that a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for future success, and thus enters a four-year institution with the hope that a career will be discovered prior to graduation and a suitable job not long after.

We address this first question out of concern for the student who may want to pursue a trades and manufacturing career but, for any number of reasons, is pressured to pursue a college degree. For this student, a trip down the college path may result in yet another addition to the college dropout pool. In Minnesota, over one-third of the freshmen entering a four-year college do not graduate within six years. A twenty- or twenty-one-year old who drops out of college, having accumulated both student debt and most likely a feeling of having failed in some capacity, will face a number of personal challenges not present only two or three short years ago.

The primary purpose of this Trades Hub website is to provide high school students with information necessary to make a wise decision regarding a career in trades and manufacturing. It is critical to understand that this is NOT a decision between a trades and manufacturing career and a bachelor’s degree. Rather, for the student considering a trades and manufacturing career, this is a decision to pursue such a career immediately via either a job, apprenticeship, or technical school education, knowing full well that a bachelor’s degree may be added at a later date in support of this career.

Many high school seniors know they wish to pursue a career in advertising, banking, or law, all of which typically require a bachelor’s degree before obtaining one’s first job in these fields. For these students, it is a wise career decision to go directly from high school to a traditional four-year college to obtain a bachelor’s or equivalent degree.

Most careers in trades and manufacturing, on the other hand, offer a variety of paths requiring a far less significant outlay of educational dollars at the beginning. Apprenticeships, technical schools, and direct jobs provide either rather modest net outlays, or very reasonable income levels, to begin a career which can ultimately prove to be both financially and intellectually rewarding. In addition, due to both the highly-skilled nature of the work and a general shortage of skilled workers, many companies in these industries encourage and also pay for their employees to obtain additional schooling which both develops the employees and advances their careers.

Source Minnesota graduation rates: U.S. Department of Education

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Hey There! Welcome to the new Trades Hub job board.

Did you find a career you’re interested in? If you’re not sure, check out the Careers section of the website where we currently have seventeen featured. Be sure to explore the videos for each.

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