Monday, January 25, 2010

Trade School over College?

New York times published an on-line video about people opting for Trade Schools rather than College.  Wouldn't you know it... the students cite two reasons for choosing Trade School over College...  Two reasons that are near and dear to my heart: (1) Cost and (2) Loss of Oppurtunity Cost, aka Time.  I can't speak to the need in any of the fields cited in this video.  But I know that they are not taking on as much debt as one would attending college, therefore their risk is less. 

Kudos to these guys and the New York Times for telling this story!


  1. I've mentioned this to one of you guys/gals before, but there is an important aspect of "trade jobs" that you all fail to consider: some people simply aren't cut out for that type of work.

    Sure, you can look at the current job market for PhDs and JDs and say that being a plumber is currently a better idea...if all you are looking at is what your chances of finding a job are and how much you would earn. But we are not just talking about "jobs" here, are we? We're talking about careers. Semantics, maybe, but there is an important difference that can be lost when one is desperately looking at the two from the unemployment line.

    If the typical lawyer or lawyer to be leans toward the "intellectual" side of things (I can only base this on my own experience though), I can tell you that most of you would NOT be happy spending the next twenty years as a plumber, a police officer, a garbage man/woman, etc. and while you might have more job security (or A job), you would not be intellectually satisfied, stimulated, etc., and it would wear on you as sure as looking for a job is wearing on you now.

    Think about who you hang out with on a regular basis. For the most part, people like "Ross" on "Friends" would not be close friends with someone like "Joey." "Ally McBeal" would not hang out with the likes of "Kelly Bundy," etc.

    I'm not saying all plumbers, tradespeople, etc. are the equivalent of Kelly Bundy/Joey, but what I'm trying to say is that most people who have the intellectual desire and aptitude to go through 4 years of undergrad and three years of law school will not find their work, or their co-workers, very satisfying if they're in a general population of GED/High School Diploma + trade skills type people.

    I know I'm not doing a good job NOT sounding arrogant here, but that is not my intent. I'm not saying that any one type of person is any better or worse than any other based on their intellectual aptitude, and I'm not saying that there aren't tradespeople that are more intelligent and capable than lawyers, etc. It is just that people of relatively "equal" levels of education, etc. generally group together for a reason.

    I've been in this position for the past couple decades of my life, and I knew I was not a proper "fit" within my first few months on the job. Like many of you do now though, I had obligations, so I stuck it out. It was worth it financially, but it was hell in a lot of ways also.


  2. Bill Gates didn't finish college. He did ok, and I'm sure that people hang out with him.The Unabomber has a PhD. I don't think he has too many friends in prison.

  3. Doug,

    I'm sure everyone doing doc review right now is so riveted and intellectually stimulated by what they do and who they work with that they thank God every day they didn't go to trade school. I'm also sure that makes the loan payments worth it.

  4. LMAO!!!! Nothing is less stimulating than legal grunt work. I think there would be alot of satisfaction in making the perfect filet mignon or finding and fixing a leak. My brain is turning to mush doing this shit.

  5. I think you missed the point... Bill Gates probably isn't hanging out with plumbers...

    And I'm not saying Doc Review is stimulating...after all, that's not why you went to law school, is it?

    Whatever...the grass isn't always greener, and even if it is, there are other problems there that you're not anticipating.


  6. No, Dougie, I didn't miss the point. Bill Gates didn't finish college, so by your screwed up "logic" people with degrees don't want to hang out with him because he doesn't have a worthless degree. But people would flock to someone with a PhD, like the Unabomber.Your argument (as usual) is flawed.

  7. Yep, you missed it.

    Perhaps this is why you can't find work...

  8. Assuming you have friends (which is a huge assumption, I must admit), how many of them are tradesmen?

    When you were in law school, I assume after class you went and hung out with the off duty garbage men at Denny's, huh?

    People find their place in the world. The garbage men would probably find you to be a whiney, overeducated douchebag, and you'd likely be looking down on them because you couldn't follow their "logic."

    Good Luck in your travels--you'll need it.

  9. lawyers are highly intellectual.

  10. Go for it! You can do it!

    In all fairness though, this job description looks like it involves a bit more intellect than picking up a trash bag.

  11. Don't kid yourself. This job is the heavy lifting of the law. It's more about a warm body being in court, then what you say and how you say it. Besides, "TRADE" school is not for garbage men. It's for people that are learning a trade.. like medical or dental assistant, cook, electrician. They are using their brains and not their brawn. Why are we so high on ourselves to look down on people that have a marketable skill? Are we jealous because we don't?

  12. Nobody is looking up, down, or sideways, from the way I read it.

    I believe psychology and sociology would indicate that people tend to put themselves in castes, more or less and overall are not very diverse in who they spend their time with. This begins at an early kindergarden/elementry school.

    There is a reason for it, and most people would not be comfortable voluntarily trying to pick up and place themselves in another group, and the other group would likely not be completely accepting either.

    Your experience likely validates this. Doesn't make it right, it just is.

  13. Who is this Doug? What kind of a snob are you? I have an MBA and a JD and my best friend didn't even go to college - he's a travel agent. Sounds like you're an education Pimp. And by the way, I'm not unemployed you little asshole.

  14. I said what is typical--guess you missed that.

    By the way, your vagina is showing.

  15. Some of you sure are sensitive.

    Why didn't all of you decide to go to trade school before undergrad? If not then, why not before law school?

    I know why, and so do you.

    It is the same reason that you probably are mostly not friends with people who did. Doug has it right, go cry yourself to sleep while telling yourself you're different.

  16. I don't look down on trades people. I was the first college educated (then grad school educated) person in my family. So, I'm surrounded by intellectual, albeit blue collared, people all the time. I went to law school, not because I thought that being a cook or plumber was below me--but because I thought law school would lead to a more prosperous and secure future. Since that wasn't the case, and all of my blue collar relatives are relatively prosperous compared to me, I have to eat crow.
    Education was pitched to me and I bought a lemon.

  17. to 1:08 what are you a teenage troll? and by the way I'm not a woman and I could kick your ass.

  18. Lawyer here.

    I find many tradesmen to be actually quite well-versed in intellectual topics and able to hold a high brow conversation better than many lawyers. It may have something to do with the fact that they have time to READ and THINK about things, and disposable incomes to pursue interesting activities.

    Sure, many plumber types are beer and television types, but even they are more interesting than some soulless law firm wage slave. In my experience any lawyer who culturally self-identifies as a "lawyer" is a total douchebag.

  19. Going back to the original story, it's great that the word is getting out and some students are doing the math and realizing that their best opportunity is working in a trade.

    With regard to Doug's comments, I'll use the example of a person with an entrepreneurial personality taking a bureaucratic government job - it's just not a good fit. The person would probably be happier with something else. The other people that work at the government job probably have a different personality and world view that makes it hard for the entrepreneur to blend in.

  20. Some of you ought to read "What does it Mean to Be Well Educated" by Alfie Kohn...

    Then consider the brilliance of those who built the very buildings where you achieved your level of academic status!

  21. The thing is some people don't pay much for school. Especially now, yeah 20-30 thousand is quite a bit but when you consider if you choose the right career (make sure its something you love to do) you will more times then not make more money per year then a trade school graduate.

    Take something like a trade school graduate for networking, they will start around 35-40k a year. Now take a Computer Science major who enjoys programming and finds a job doing so, your average starting salary is between 50-60k a year, with a ceiling of 100+k a year. Just because it is cheaper in the short run does not mean it is better in the long run.

    The problem you find is people who make more money feel they need "more" things to live. So if they do go out of a job for a short amount of time, a lot of people won't have the money saved. Granted that isn't everyone but still.

    The whole argument about being a lawyer and such, well just because you have a degree doesn't mean you are any good. In most schools you can pass Core classes and graduate with straight C's. You still get the degree but you won't get the job.

  22. I am probably the most uneducated in this blog, but I am logical enough to know that Trade Schools are not such a horrible thing that some people make them seem. For example, the few people in my life don't agree with my decision going into a trade, but why not? I tried College and I don't see it for me...

    If I can make a COMFORTABLE salary and be happy at that why must I be the highest paying nurse why can't I be just that nurse? I just want to help people and learn to love my career. If the health certifications are what I need to get my career and I will, let me be right? Trade Schools have been around long enough and if they were so bad or "less educated" than a formal college, I guess every Trade student is screwed as myself? Any opinions on the Trade schools?

  23. I can't speak to the need in any of the fields cited in this video. But I know that they are not taking on as much debt as one would attending college, therefore their risk is less. trade school



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