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Embracing the Trades: A Path to Success

Choosing your path in this world isn’t always an obvious or easy choice. You might be considering your options. You may ask yourself, why choose a trade over the conventional college route? Let me tell you why I did. I went to Bryant University for a couple of years studying to become an accountant. I worked for a CPA for a couple of years while I was going to school. This practical work experience has helped me over the years to understand the financial part of the business and to help me run the company today. I dropped out of college because I was not interested in what I was studying and did not apply myself. Living in my parent’s basement was not working for my dad, so he got me a job with a contractor doing remodeling and building new homes. I was able to develop my skills and understanding for construction over the next five years, which then prepared me to open my own business. Without the practical knowledge, I could not have done it. I have earned more over the years than I would have as an accountant.

I chose the road less traveled, brimming with opportunities: The world of trades, where hands-on skills reign supreme and success stories are as abundant as the repairs needed to keep homes, roads, and businesses up and running!

The path to financial success doesn't always run through a traditional college degree. Going into a trade offers a shortcut to financial stability and even prosperity. With demand outweighing supply in many trade sectors, skilled professionals often command impressive salaries and enjoy steady career growth. We employ over 20 people here at Calyx and I’m proud to say that our employees earn higher wages with no student debt than the average college graduate.

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2022-2023 school year was around $13,740 for in-state public colleges and $38,070 for private colleges. When factoring in additional expenses like room and board, textbooks, and other fees, the total cost of attendance can easily exceed $20,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on the institution. Student loan debt in the United States has been steadily rising, reaching over $1.7 trillion in total outstanding debt across more than 45 million borrowers. The average student loan debt for graduates of the class of 2022 was around $39,200, with approximately 56% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with immense debt and zero on the job experience, making finding a job post-graduation difficult.

While many college graduates find themselves lost in the maze of job hunting, trade professionals often find themselves in high demand. Skilled tradespeople are the unsung heroes behind the infrastructure we rely on daily. From plumbers to electricians, welders, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), to carpenters, there's a treasure trove of job opportunities waiting to be explored. Construction trades are particularly in demand due to retiring workers and ongoing infrastructure needs.

Trade professionals have lucrative earning potential without the burden of student loan debt. According to Labor Statistics in Rhode Island the median annual wage was $41,950 in May 2022. Most trade jobs surpass this figure. For example, electricians had a median annual wage of $63,000, plumbers earned $60,910, and carpenters earned $57,520. The demand for skilled tradespeople remains strong, with many occupations experiencing faster-than-average job growth, with a projected 4% increase in employment for all occupations from 2024 to 2029.

And let’s face it, not all of us are interested in sitting through the monotony of lectures. Some of us crave the action of hands-on learning. In the world of trades, you're not just flipping through textbooks; you're rolling up your sleeves and getting down to business. Whether it's crafting woodwork, fitting fixtures, or designing circuits, every day is a new adventure filled with practical learning experiences. Who says success has to follow a one-size-fits-all approach? Trades offer an array of pathways, allowing individuals to learn a skill that will always bring in a secure income. Whether you prefer to dive straight into the workforce, pursue an apprenticeship, or even start your own business like I did, the world of trades embraces diversity and empowers individuals to chart their own course.

So, my friends, as you ponder your next steps of your life, I urge you to consider the art of trades. Whether you're a recent high school graduate or an adult seeking a change in career, you can find success and satisfaction in carving out a path on the road less traveled. Just like I did.

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