Why Are More Americans Considering Becoming Tradespeople?

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There’s been an interesting shift in the educational trends of Americans over the past year or so. Colleges are reporting staggering drops in enrollment, with numbers reaching even lower than at the height of the pandemic.1 At the same time, many trade schools are reporting continued enrollment and interest in their programs.2

So, why are so many Americans considering becoming tradespeople? See more on this growing trend, along with some key reasons why people are motivated to enroll in trade school programs, below.

3 Common Questions about Tradespeople

Before delving into the specifics, let’s answer some common questions people have about tradespeople:

1. What are tradespeople?

Tradespeople are highly skilled craftsmen and women. They may work in the fields of construction, manufacturing or installation and repair. In many cases, they have completed trade school training programs to learn the skills needed to ply their trades.

2. How do I get a job in trade?

You can get a job in the trades by applying for positions once you have the necessary skills, for example knowing how to weld, wire a building or repair a broken air conditioner. Where can you learn such skills? At a trade school in welding training, electrician classes, or an HVAC program. Trade school programs can help give you the skills you need to try out for entry-level jobs in the skilled trades.

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3. What jobs are trade jobs?

A job is usually considered a trade job if it involves building and fixings things like roads, buildings or bridges, for example in the construction industry. Or fusing metal parts to make cars or other manufactured goods. Making home repairs, such as to a furnace, is yet another example. Trades jobs usually require specialized skills acquired through technical training instead of a standard college or university.

Statistics on Trade Schools Post-Pandemic

The pandemic had an undeniable impact on the lives of millions of Americans, requiring many to change their professional and academic plans.3 Some of the results of this disruption are just starting to come to light. One of the most considerable changes is the declining enrollment in colleges and universities.

Enrollment rates in the spring of 2021 dropped another 5.9% from a year prior when rates were already at concerning lows due to the pandemic.1 The continuing drops in college enrollment are clear indications of how disruptive the pandemic was for the academic plans of so many Americans.1

But not all higher education schools are seeing declining enrollment. Some trade schools are reporting healthy levels of enrollment.2 A recent StrataTech survey revealed 57% of people enrolled or thinking about enrolling in technical training over the past year say COVID-19 was their main motivation.4

4 Top Reasons People Pick a Career in the Skilled Trades

The pandemic might be driving people away from colleges and universities, but that doesn’t explain why the trades received more attention. Surveys show a few of the motivations behind this decision:

1. Secure Income

More than half of people enrolled or considering enrolling in the trades report the pandemic as the main driving factor. Of those people, 56% were primarily motivated by a more stable source of income.4 The StrataTech survey reports 62% of individuals who were forced to create an extra stream of income due to the pandemic turned to the trades.4 When asked about the most important advantage of a trade career, an overwhelming majority of people pointed to earning potential.4

2. Career Flexibility

Another important factor motivating more Americans to consider becoming tradespeople is flexibility. Nearly half of those who were enrolled or thought about enrolling in a trade school program because of the pandemic said that greater career flexibility was the main reason.4

While many careers require at least four years of college education, preparing for a job in the trades can take less of a time commitment. For example, Tulsa Welding School offers vocational programs ranging in length from just seven to 14 months.

Plus, many vocational schools require only a GED or high school diploma for enrollment. With the trades, students can usually enter into a new field without having to invest as much time or money as they would with a university.

3. Essential Worker Status

When the pandemic was at its height, businesses across the U.S. shuttered their doors, laying off workers. Individuals in positions labeled “essential” were allowed to continue working. Understandably, this level of uncertainty motivated many people to leave their careers in search of something more pandemic-proof. Many tradespeople, such as welders, are considered essential and were allowed to continue working during the COVID-19 shutdown as a result.

When asked about their motivation for enrolling or considering enrolling in trade school, 29% of people cited the desire to become an essential worker.4

4. High Employment Rates

When trying to determine what adults without degrees would need to return to school, experts at the Strada Education Network found that guaranteed employment outcome was the greatest motivator.5

For decades, a college education was seen as the gold standard for job security and employment opportunities. But the pandemic has seemed to shake up that consensus. In 2021, 59% of high schoolers think a bachelor’s degree is necessary to land a good job—down from 70% in 2020.4 Only half of U.S. adults considering enrolling in or enrolled in a trade school program think a bachelor’s degree is required to get a good job.4 With a growing demand for qualified tradespeople in the market, many people see the trades as a better employment opportunity.6

See What a Career in the Trades Could Hold for You

Want to know more about what it takes to become a tradesperson and the advantages that can come with this career path? Contact a Tulsa Welding School rep today for more info. Call 855-806-4921.

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