Chart of the Day: The Battle Between College vs. Skilled Trades Salaries

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We have heard it many times – is a college degree worth it? A recent report has shown that many of the youth now regret running out and spending thousands of dollars on a college degree. Let’s take a quick analysis of whether this is true.

A whopping 87% of Journalism majors say they regret their decision and would pick a different major if they could, according to CNBC, citing a ZipRecruiter survey of more than 1,500 college graduates who were looking for a job. See the details of other college majors in the chart below.

Notice that most of the regrets are from non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees. On average, 44% of all job seekers with college degrees regret their field of study. But let’s look at Skilled trades salaries vs. college degreed salaries.

College degree salaries – The college degree you choose will partially dictate your future earning potential – especially in the first decade after school. If jobs in your field are in high demand, it can even set you up for long-term financial success, enabling you to pay off costly student loans and build up savings potential. See a detailed chart below that shows this, and learn more here.

Skill trades salaries – The  Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational employment statistics survey data reveals that US skilled labor in the construction trades has quite elevated salaries. See this in the chart below, and learn more here.

If you are one that wants to run with the sharks and have the money and connections, you will need to buy your way into a valued “name” university to join the club. This is another calculation that often is not available for many. See this effect in the chart below and learn more here and here.

What are some takeaways from these charts and potential advice on could give to someone starting off with their career?

  • Skilled Trades vs. a College Degree are today on par in terms of salaries unless you target your career in higher levels of STEM.
  • Though not discussed in this post, the cost of college and the time to become productive in your career should be factored into your decisions.
  • However, choose a career that you will enjoy doing for the long term – not just a knee-jerk reaction to the latest “new thing” you see on a college campus or a “quick buck” in the trades.
  • Don’t waste too much time to get your career started, or you will fall behind later in life.
  • Getting a college degree is still better than not in terms of future financial gains. However, this advantage relative to college degree costs is increasingly being challenged.

So what advice would you give to the youth of America? Give us your thoughts in the comment section of this post.

See more Chart of the Day posts.

By Tom Williams

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