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Is college a requirement after high school?

College after high school is the standard answer, the status quo, to life after high school. Go to college, get a degree, then hope you get a job that pays well enough to pay off those student loans. The problem there is that the last few years have seen a rise in unemployed college students, or young men and women with degrees working in jobs that don’t require a degree. White collar jobs also do not guarantee job satisfaction, which results in millions of Americans working, but completely dissatisfied with their jobs or careers.

College is not for everyone. Sure, there are those who are ready, willing, and able to put on that suit and tie and push those papers at a desk job in that climate controlled building. However, there are those of us who are simply not the suit and tie types, those who enjoy working with their hands and getting outdoors every now and then. For those who are not the college bound type, trade schools and apprenticeships are a worthy alternative.

Money is the driving force in today’s society, and the so-called “dirty jobs” often go over looked in favor of white collar careers. This is resulting in a shortage of skilled trade-persons in very essential portions of the working world. If you are talking to your teen about their future, be sure to include the option of shorter-term vocational schools. Economically speaking, trade school is the way to go, if one is thinking of their education as an investment. It is difficult to see the investment with student debt looming over head.

Ahead is a short list of blue collar jobs that bring in about $40,000 annually, and do not require years of schooling and outlandish student debt, according to (2015). There are many more options out there; university life is not the only option for those who wish to have a good career.

  • Bricklayer—median annual salary $45,965, apprenticeship
  • Chemical Plant Operator—median annual salary $40,473, on-the-job training for high school grads
  • Dental Hygienist—median annual salary $62,220, associate’s degree/special licensure
  • Derrickman—median annual salary $46,072, on-the-job training
  • Executive Housekeeper—median annual salary $44,459, extra schooling unnecessary
  • Firefighter—median annual salary $44,597, high school diploma, possible EMT and other training
  • Locomotive Engineer—median annual salary $62,995, trade school courses and certification
  • Medical Laboratory Technician—median annual salary $41,737, associate’s degree, possibly a bachelor’s degree
  • Personal Trainer—median annual salary $53,056, personal training certification