Graduating high school seniors often assume that they must attend a university to build their career, but in some cases, there are other, more approachable paths for their future that capitalize on their strengths. A career in the trades is one such option. Many trades, one of which is plumbing, rely on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to support essential public infrastructures.
The plumbing trade, specifically, is essential to maintaining potable water and sanitary health conditions, as well as repairing and maintaining water delivery infrastructure. This provides versatility for plumbers who, on any given day, could be servicing homes, businesses, medical facilities and public works, which are vital to the country’s health and well-being.
Trade School vs. College: Pros and Cons
If you’re interested in a career that has a direct impact on your community — and you’re ready to hit the ground running with your future — enrolling in a vocational school may be the right path for you. And with the current labor shortage, there’s no better time to enter trades like plumbing for job security. We’ve outlined the facts for you, so you can understand the top differences between trade school and college and make an informed decision.
Specializing in a Craft vs. General Education
Trade schools are often referred to as vocational or career schools because they focus in on a specific vocation or career. College, on the other hand, requires that students take classes that can vary from topics within a major all the way to random electives such as ‘Walking’ – seriously, some of us have taken it. If you want to skip straight to specialization and get to work more quickly on what matters most to you, the focus and speed of a trade school may be for you.
Trade School Costs Less Than College
How much your education costs varies based on where you live, where you decide to attend school and what kind of institution it is. With student debt at an all-time high in the U.S., this is a big deal. Students who choose a skilled trade often have a better return on investment for their education because they’re paying less for their education and sometimes getting paid during training. You don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on college to get a high-paying career. Plumbing is an excellent option for people who want to earn a lot of money without spending a lot of money upfront on school.
- A four-year college can cost between $25,000 and $53,000 per year, according to EducationData.org.
- A trade school program, on the other hand, is typically around $33,000 total, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Trade School Takes Less Time to Complete
The longer it takes to complete school, the longer it takes to start earning an occupation’s full-time salary. Many trades, including plumbing, offer a dual benefit of shorter education and paid training. Apprenticeships, unlike many college internships, pay you as you learn, providing income, instruction and progress toward the next step in your career.
How long is a plumbing apprenticeship program? 2-5 years. If you want to jump straight into the workforce, you can join a plumbing apprenticeship program with a local company or a plumber union apprenticeship. Both options can take two to five years depending on the program. Prospective plumbers can attend vocational school or community college for significantly less money than those opting for four-year degrees. At Justice Plumbing, you can even enter into an apprenticeship, where you’ll learn the trade hands-on from an experienced plumber while getting paid. Getting paid while you learn is a great and rare opportunity.
Not only does a trade school education cost less in time and money, but it also provides a desirable salary.
Once you’ve graduated to the level of working independently, you can run your own truck and set your own schedule. According to PayScale, plumbers in 2020 made between $30,721 – $79,791 a year, while master plumbers earned between $42,604 – $100,685. Those who attend trade schools make an average salary of over $59,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This can be even higher depending on the trade you specialize in. A plumber’s salary can range up to $97,000, depending on location, education, experience and specialized licenses.
Choose a Career with Excellent Job Security
Plumbing is a career that will always be necessary. Almost every building has pipes and water flow, so there will always be a need for experts to repair and maintain them. Plumbing is a career that is disaster-proof because in a disaster or a pandemic like the COVID-19 outbreak, people depend on access to clean, flowing water more than ever.
The more buildings that are built and the larger and more complex their water systems are, the more plumbers are needed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of plumbers is expected to grow over 14 percent to 2028 and job opportunities are expected to be good. That means that plumbers are in short supply and high demand. Plumbing is also secure because the installation, maintenance, and repairs that a plumber does can’t be automated, so you don’t have to worry about being replaced by a machine.
A Career in Plumbing has Great Potential for Advancement with a Variety of Job Choices
There is a great opportunity for advancement in plumbing. If you have the determination and the skill, you can work your way up to the master level. Master plumbers earn an excellent salary and have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of large-scale, complex, and innovative projects.
When you choose a career in plumbing, you have a wide variety of career paths and job options to choose from. You don’t have to worry about getting burned out working in a cubicle or doing the same thing day after day. As a plumber, you could be repairing home sewer systems, designing plumbing systems for new buildings, managing city-wide water systems, expanding water systems, or developing new plumbing technologies.
You can expect plenty of job opportunities in the trades since the labor shortage is creating a high demand for skilled workers. In fact, construction and extraction jobs, which include plumbers, are expected to match the national average growth pace for all jobs.
And while other professionals may have less job security in times of economic stress, many trades like plumbing are considered essential industries that must carry on no matter what, which means you can expect more stability.
Consider a Future in Plumbing
Now’s the perfect time to start planning for a better career and a brighter future. If you’re interested in plumbing, do some research online and check out some local trade schools, vocational schools, or community colleges that offer plumbing certifications.
If you have any questions about the trade, you can talk to the experts at Justice Plumbing. We would love to help get you on track toward a great career. Justice Plumbing is always hiring apprentices so stop by or call 817-579-9779, or learn more about the Justice Plumbing job openings here.