It’s no secret that at Build-Pride, we love fighting the stigma that you need to attend a traditional 4-year college to be “successful.” Many prospective college students are surprised when they sit down with us and learn earn the advantages that construction can have over a typical 4-year degree.
Not only do we believe that a career in construction is a smart choice, we have the facts and statistics to prove it. When you compare cost, time, job security, real-world experience and salary between a standard college path and a career in construction, you’ll see how a career in construction can give you a head start in preparing a successful and independent future for yourself.
Comparing the Differences Between Construction Training Versus Traditional College
Student loan debt is a huge burden in the U.S. 57 percent of people under 30 say that student debt is a major problem. According to NerdWallet, as of March 2019, “U.S. student loan borrowers owed a collective $1.6 trillion in federal and private student loan debt.” That’s a serious chunk of change. On average, a bachelor’s degree has a whopping $127,000 price tag. This price tag doesn’t include the interest that is accrued during the life of the loan. Most student loan payment plans expect you to pay off your debt in less than 10 years. However, it takes many people twice as long. Research from Citizens Financial Group suggests that 60 percent of student debt borrowers expect to pay off their loans in their 40s.
In comparison, the average trade school program costs $33,000, and that’s only if you decide to take the traditional classroom route. Apprenticeship programs are a fraction of the cost, and you’ll be earning a living wage while you work alongside construction experts. You know what’s better than paying $127,000+? Earning a salary.
How to Get a Construction Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship is a unique career platform where you learn through a combination of classroom learning and substantial real-world, on-the-job training. Most importantly, you work alongside construction professionals, earn a wage and build your independence.
Most often, apprenticeships are offered through local businesses and unions. If you’re interested in a particular construction career, Build-Pride can help you locate an apprenticeship. If you are interested in a career in construction and are unsure which career is right for you, take our Trade Quiz. Even if you decide that a construction career isn’t right for you, you will learn skills like home repair that will be useful for the rest of your life and the experience will look good on your resume when you begin looking for another job.
Unlike college, you won’t have to stress over difficult, expensive applications or take frustrating standardized tests. Instead, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. and an eagerness to learn, you can start building your new career right now.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Apprenticeship Compared to a Traditional College Degree?
Traditional bachelor’s degree programs take four years on paper. However, the majority of students take more time to complete their degrees. According to CNBC, only 41% of traditional college students complete their degrees in four years. Even more frightening, only 59% of students complete their degrees in six years. Can you afford to spend four to six years accumulating debt?
In addition to accumulating debt, many college students are not gaining work experience once they are out in the real world despite their degree because they don’t have any work experience to help them qualify for jobs. Also, some students are seen as being overqualified for entry-level jobs and higher-level jobs are unattainable without work experience. This is causing many new graduates to look for jobs outside of their chosen field in order to pay back their student loans.
Apprenticeship programs can take anywhere from one to six years to complete, depending on individual program requirements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most formal apprenticeships last approximately four years. We know that this is around the same amount of time spent to get a bachelor’s degree, but remember that you get paid while you learn. Popular standard apprenticeship programs include carpentry, masonry, electrical, HVAC and plumbing.
Is There Job Security in Construction?
A career in construction is a way to ensure that you’ll have job security for years to come. The stigma that you need to attend a 4-year college to be successful has created a gap in the job market. There are a ton of graduates who are qualified for entry-level office jobs, but a declining construction workforce. Actually, more than 40 percent of college graduates take a job out of school that didn’t require a degree.
Moreover, with an apprenticeship, you’re almost guaranteed to have a job when you successfully complete your program. It’s easier for employers to hire apprentices than it is to hunt for construction workers in the current market.
Even better, once you learn a trade, you can take your skills anywhere in the world. Or, if you’re a self-starter, build your own business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many construction jobs can expect as fast as average or faster job growth through 2026. Some examples include plumbers (16%), construction laborers (12%) and electricians (9%).
Real-World Experience: Apprenticeships Versus Traditional College
Apprenticeships prepare you for independence in a way traditional college usually can’t: paid, hands-on, real-world career experience. Traditionally, the only way to gain real-world working experience during a 4-year college degree program is through an internship. In many cases, internships are unpaid and not guaranteed. Through an apprenticeship, you’re guaranteed to learn from licensed experts who work in the field you’re studying. To learn more about the difference between apprenticeships and internships, click here.
How Do Construction Salaries Stack Up?
According to the National Association of College and Employers, the average starting salary for graduates in 2018 was $50,004. Keep in mind, most students have a hefty student loan bill too. In comparison, most construction students complete their apprenticeships debt-free with healthy salaries. You might be surprised to discover that when factoring in the cost of education, a plumber actually out earns a doctor until their late 30’s or early 40’s! Additional salary examples include:
- Carpenter: $33,000 to $69,000
- Mason: $38,000 to $73,000
- Electrician: $33,000 to $81,000
- HVAC Technician: $32,000 to $74,000
- Plumber: $28,000 to $83,000
- Tile Setter: $28,000-$72,000
- Concrete Finishers: $19,000-$70,000
Are You Interested in Learning More?
The career experts at Build-Pride can help you find the right apprenticeship program and set the groundwork for a successful future. Contact us today to get started.