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Should You Get a Degree or Start a Career in the Skilled Trades?

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For decades, Americans have equated a 4-year degree as the gateway to the American dream, and for good reason.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, a bachelor’s degree accounts for an average of $16,900 in additional income, per year, compared to a high school diploma ($30,000 versus $46,900).

When you factor in that difference over an average 30-year career, you’re talking about a $500,000 difference.

But these numbers don’t really tell the whole picture. For starters, not all degrees promise the same increased salary expectations. Just ask former President Barack Obama, who was quoted in 2014 as saying:

“[A] lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career. But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.”

The Future of Welding is Bright. Here's the Proof

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While many professions are still licking their wounds from the latest recession, the welding industry has enjoyed exciting growth. In fact, since the end of the recession in 2009, skilled labor has been one of the highest occupations in demand.

“For the life of me I don’t know why we stigmatize vocational education,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio, during a 2015 Republican Presidential Debate. “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

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