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Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a job.

Long has that been the standard trajectory of the average American’s professional life. Such concepts that are so ingrained into our society tend to prevent individuals from pursuing their true career aspirations. They often feel they should choose a path based on what they think they are expected to do, rather than what they want to do.

However, earning the standard college degree is not the only option that leads to a successful and lucrative lifestyle. There are various alternative routes one can choose from. Learning a trade through attending trade school is an alternative route that has been widely proven to be a cheaper and oftentimes more useful post-high school option. One can also choose the entrepreneurial route. Here, they gain practical, hands-on experience in a given industry before eventually going into business for themselves.

What many fail to see is that these two alternative routes can converge to form one.

Why Consider Trade School Over College?

Deciding what to do after high school is a difficult decision for just about anyone. For most, the path to the “real-world” is not always clear. The best many can do is figure it out along the way. College can be a great place to do just that. It is a unique opportunity for self-exploration and to get a real taste of independence and adulthood. It is a place where many choose to go to learn the ins and outs of the field they think they want to pursue after graduation. It is also a good way to waste tens of thousands of dollars and more.

College student stressing over work
College student stressing over work

Oftentimes, those who attend college enter with one field of study in mind and then half way through have a complete change of heart. Similarly, many who earn a degree in a specific field end up in a completely different one post-grad. With college, there is no guarantee of landing the job you so desire and are left with a diploma and loads of debt. Trade school, however, teaches you hands-on experience in a specific area that provides you with the knowledge and credentials to obtain a job directly in what you studied. Many trade schools also provide their graduates with apprenticeships. This guarantees they have practical experience upon entering the workforce.

Trade schools typically run from 1-2 years, meaning it is about half the duration of a traditional 4 year college. According to Best Colleges, the average cost of trade school is $33,000 total, and can be cheaper in many cases. Those who go to a 4 year college are lucky if they pay that much for one year. This means that those who decided to learn a trade graduate and enter the workforce much faster than those who went to college, at a fraction of the cost. On top of that, they are basically guaranteed to end up with a job they actually want because it is what they chose for themselves.

Why Tradespeople Make Successful Entrepreneurs

When people hear the word entrepreneur, they may picture several different things. They may imagine the computer-whiz in Silicon Valley working on their own tech startup. Maybe they may see a confident, well-dressed individual oozing charisma, pitching their vision to venture capitalists. The fact of the matter is that there is not one sole character trait, style, or background that defines being an entrepreneur. They can come from all different walks of life and industries. This includes the trades.

Many jobs in the trades can be very lucrative, even before taking the entrepreneurial route. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for construction managers in 2019 was $95,260 per year. That is a pretty nice cushion to have if considering starting a company. When a tradesperson, such as a construction manager, decides to go into business for themselves, they already possess a skillset through their training that other entrepreneurs do not. They are also at a financial advantage if they went to trade school then immediately entered the workforce. This is because they most likely do not have immense amounts of debt hanging over their heads.

Construction contractors on a job site
Construction contractors on a job site

These kinds of entrepreneurs are actually some of the most proficient and adept ones out there. They have put in the long hours and hard work necessary to get the job done and master their craft. Skilled workers have a grittiness, resilience and work ethic that is hard to obtain in other industries. If and when the time comes to go into business for themselves, they are already at a financial and professional advantage.

Regardless of educational or professional background, it all comes down to developing the proper business acumen needed by any entrepreneur to be successful. Opting for the trade school route can provide one with the experience and tools necessary to succeed in their industry. This makes learning the business side of things far more manageable.

Do you think trade school is better than college for entrepreneurs? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.