I recently had a discussion for the Hangover Haze Show with a good friend of mine who has worked extensively in the trades for years. He has installed solar, done carpentry and achieved his Construction Supervisor's License, has gone to Electrical school and will eventually have his Journeyman's License in Electrical. So it would be fair to say that he's well-versed.
We spoke about the trades as a viable option instead of going to college for Computer Science, or an English degree, or god forbid, an advanced degree in Gender Studies (haha).
There's a glut of trade work available currently due to the fact that the baby boomers are retiring or dying off and for many years in the late 80s through the early 2000s the emphasis was on going to college. There was a negative stigma placed on people who were trades workers. They were viewed as beer drinking, large gutted, moronic plebeians without the capacity for complex thought or decision making.
Those folks are the ones who are currently having the last laugh though. While it's true, if you're a prodigy in Software Engineering who teams up with someone that can effectively market your app, chances are you'll make a bundle of money and be able to retire early, or re-invest and move up the entrepreneur ladder, much like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos.
But the truth of the matter is, you're most likely to end up as a mid-level programmer for a larger company. Just another cog in their massive machine. A faceless entity who draws a decent weekly paycheck without the trappings of fame and glory.
And generally, in both instances, you'll be hiring tradespeople to do the work on your house, property, and car because you lack the necessary skills to do so yourself effectively. Not to mention negotiating the depth of red tape local governments provide when trying to permit certain projects.
I've worked in solar and construction and also have my Construction Supervisor's License and I've operated a good deal of heavy machinery that would seem foreign and daunting to most people. I participated in various masonry and landscape projects. I grew up in my father's auto mechanic shop and some of the earliest photos of me are in my godfather's junkyard and around hardcore grease monkey's. I've swapped engines in my car twice as well as other more advanced mechanical projects. Over my years I've attained at least an intermediate skill level in electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.
In other words, not only am I extremely well read (humble too!), but I can also build and provide the maintenance of a house as well as the property it sits on and if I were so inclined, could maintain my vehicle as well and fix it in most instances of it breaking down.
There's a great deal of money to made in the trades and I've often considered opening my own construction company and pursuing that route, but I also find that while I do enjoy the somewhat mental challenges and physical strain of that type of work, my happiness lies in the cerebral pursuits of the highest levels. Namely, Psychology and Philosophy.
But, I urge those who are thinking that perhaps college isn't for them and that they'd like to make a successful life for themselves otherwise, to consider one of the many skilled labor trades. There will be plenty of work for you once you're licensed and I know many people who make more money per year than high-level IT professionals.
I was one of them.
Take care of yourselves.