A Career in Skilled Trades

The Urban Leadership Foundation is committed to advising, mentoring, and assisting young people in the direction of skilled trades, attending a vocational school or merit shop academy. We want to give the students the tools, resources, and support to acquire the skills that will provide an opportunity for a long term career in skilled trades. A traditional four-year degree is not for everyone, and trade school offers a pretty compelling career path.

A trade school, also known as a technical or vocational school, is an educational institution that exists to teach skills related to a specific job. Trade schools are a more streamlined approach to education, with curricula focusing on developing a particular skillset and knowledge base for a career rather than receiving a general education. Trade schools typically take a lot less time to complete, have smaller class sizes, and the majority of the training is hands-on, which is an ideal environment for many types of learners. Vocational degrees can lead to well-paying jobs like electrician, mechanic, machinist, pharmacy technician, nuclear technician, and dental hygienist, with room for growth and managerial potential in each field.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, technical and trade school jobs have a median annual salary of $35,720, though this figure varies heavily based on the particular industry and the experience level of the worker. The BLS predicted earnings for bachelor’s degree holders to be roughly $46,900, amounting to an annual difference of $11,180. This stat, of course, doesn’t factor in long term earnings growth.

However, because trade school only takes an average of two years to complete versus four, that amounts to an additional two years of income for the trade school graduate, or $71,440. Factor in another $70,000 in costs for the many students who take an extra year to graduate from college, and trade school grads can be over $140,000 ahead at the get-go, making up for over 12 years of difference in income.

The ULF will partner with trade organizations and labor groups that will serve the young people of the community as mentors, provide apprenticeship opportunities, and career development.