August 20, 2022

Construction or College? Here Are 3 Big Differences Between Them.

For those who have finished high school and are planning their next stage of life, figuring out the right choice can be difficult. There are a lot of paths that someone could take.

A lot of people choose college — and while that’s a great move for many, it also brings specific challenges that may not suit someone’s situation. For example, more than 50% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt in 2020, with an average total debt of more than $28,000, Forbes reported. That’s a lot of money to pay back, regardless of what career you pursue. And if you aren’t sure what you want to study in college, that financial risk can feel overwhelming.

It’s worth considering a career in the skilled trades. In a lot of ways, this career path has big advantages over college. Here are three important ways they compare.

  1. Classwork vs. Handiwork

In general, college tends to be a lot of classroom learning and a lot of homework that you eventually apply in your internship or post-grad job. If classroom environments make you feel disconnected from the real world, the skilled trades could be a perfect solution.

Among this industry’s best benefits is the chance to work with your hands. That tactile experience can help you feel more connected to what you do, and help you feel more at ease than being in a classroom for years, only to work a desk job from 9 to 5 every weekday.

“Doing manual tasks releases serotonin and endorphins and reduces your levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone,’” a recent piece in Exploring Your Mind reported. “Manual tasks can also improve your neuroplasticity by creating new pathways between neurons. That will help you keep your brain young and healthy for longer.”​

In the skilled trades, there are a lot of careers that utilize this kind of work. To see some of those careers, check out our recent blog about working with your hands

  1. Student Loans vs. Immediate Paychecks

As we mentioned, college is really, really expensive. Unless you have a full-ride scholarship or a family who’s willing to cover the costs, you’re likely looking at student loans. While some post-college careers can be lucrative and help you pay your loans quickly, a lot of college degrees don’t always translate to high salaries resulting in college debt that can follow you around for a long time.

If you go into the skilled trades, however, you can earn while you learn. Many of the industry’s educational programs offer on-the-job training. It’s a great way to immediately apply what you learn, feel that satisfaction of career progress, and avoid the kind of debt that often plagues college students.

  1. College Friends vs. Career Friends

People often choose college for social benefits since it provides an easy way to meet people and make connections. Because of the social atmosphere in college, those who forego that path often worry that they’re missing an important experience.

Luckily, the construction industry can also be an incredibly social place. Jobs are completed in teams — you’re rarely by yourself — and there’s something special about how teamwork builds relationships, especially when you’re working together to create tangible outcomes.

Passing on college doesn’t mean you’re passing on a social life. In an interpersonal industry like the skilled trades, your social life can truly thrive.

What’s Next?

If like many others you’re trying to figure out your next move, remember that you have options. For some people, college is the correct next step, but it’s not for everyone.

At Build Your Future Arizona, we’re excited to help you learn about a career in the skilled trades. From career profiles to training directories to job boards, we’re all about giving you the resources you need, so you can know what a construction career is really like. Let’s build your future together.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s Construction Workforce Initiative, Build Your Future Arizona’s mission is to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by creating awareness about high-paying construction careers, training opportunities and mapping career paths to employment in these high-demand occupations.