Trade School vs. College: Are There More Opportunities in Skilled Trades?

News and insights for job seekers and hiring managers.

Trade School vs. College: Are There More Opportunities in Skilled Trades?

Is it better to get a college degree or go into the skilled trades?

That’s a great question. There are no definitive, one-size-fits-all answers for sure. In this post, we’ll provide some guidance and insight into that question, though. And we’ll back it up with data and statistics. 

Career decisions and changes can be challenging to make. You should always consider these types of changes from all angles. You should also consider engaging some professional assistance whenever possible.    

At Top Notch Personnel, we help you strategically navigate the job markets in the Witchita, KS region. We’ll help you find the best-of-the-best skilled labor jobs available. We focus on candidates just like you, and we take every client’s job search personally. We want to understand your career goals and job preferences completely before starting our search process. So call one of our recruiting professionals at 316-425-4501, or get in touch online today!   

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the state of the skilled trades employment market.

The experts at Business Wire couldn’t have summed it up better:

In the past 30 days, over 119,000 jobs have been posted for skilled trades-related jobs, bringing the number of active skilled trades job openings across the U.S. to roughly 281,000. The average number of job postings in the sector has increased 46% from this time last year and is up 32% compared with the pre-pandemic job market. The average hourly wage is roughly $22.50, with average annual earnings of nearly $47,000 a year.

No doubt about it, there are some great jobs in the skilled trades right now. And that doesn’t look like it will be changing any time soon.   

In this post, we’ll discuss several critical metrics to consider if you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the skilled trades.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • The Types Of Trades In Highest Demand 
  • Potential Economic Advantages of Attending Trade School Compared with College 
  • Greater Demand For Skilled Trades Jobs In The Recovery-Economy 
  • Job Security, Compensation, And Advancement Opportunities 
  • How To Get Started   


We’ve got a lot of wood to chop here, so let’s get started!

So what are some of the top reasons people choose to go into the trades? First and foremost, you need to assess your personality type and personal work preferences. Skilled trades work can be physically and mentally challenging. 

Outdoor work environments are often part of the job in the construction trades, as are changes in employers and geographical job locations. Some people will embrace this type of work lifestyle. As we point out in a previous post, some tradespeople have made careers around temporary and contract work. In contrast, others may want something a bit more predictable.

The trades also require creative problem-solving ability. There are challenges and problems to overcome on every job and project. If you’re a creative problem-solver who likes to work with your hands, the trades might be the perfect career choice.  

What are some of the more popular types of construction and manufacturing trades?

Some of the more popular construction trades right now include:

  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Pipe Fitter and Steamfitter
  • Mason
  • Painter
  • Heating and Air Conditioning Technician


Common manufacturing trades:

  • Welder
  • Machinist
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Tool and Die Maker 
  • Airframe Mechanics and Technicians  

All of these skilled trades are in high demand right now in the Witchita region.

Are there potential economic advantages of attending trade school?

Yes, but there are a few caveats to the answer. Depending on the trade, there may be requirements for the individual to pay some training fees out of their own pocket. These fees can range from $10,000 to $25,000 on the high end. And some employers may be willing to pay for some or all of this training.

Training programs and vocational schools usually involve some in-classroom or internet education settings and some on-the-job, immersive training.  After the training and education period, there will typically be an employer-sponsored apprenticeship program for a year or two.

This can seem relatively inexpensive compared with college, but there are some caveats.

A four-year college degree can cost anywhere from $50,000, for example at a local or community college, to upwards of $200,000 at a private university.  

The important things to keep in mind are your objectives, personality type, and work-lifestyle goals. If you’re a job hunter that likes challenging, physical work that requires innovative problem-solving skills, the skilled trades might be right up your alley.    

Another advantage to the trades is entering the job market quickly as an apprentice and gaining valuable work skills immediately.

There is no doubt about itthere is a high demand for skilled trades workers in the current economy.

According to the experts over at Forbes: 

Analysts predict more than 3 million skilled trade jobs will remain open by 2028. A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders revealed that 69% of its members are already experiencing delays in completing projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers.

There are plenty of opportunities for skilled trades workers in all the popular trades right now.

And these career opportunities can come with job security, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.

With an average of $47,000 in direct compensation, additional benefits are often available to skilled tradespeople. These benefits can include flexible shift options, PTO, holiday pay, healthcare, and dental benefits. 

There are also plenty of opportunities for advancement once you get your feet on the ground and get established as a skilled tradesman. Some of these opportunities include supervisory, team lead, and project management roles.

How can you get started on the path to a great career in the skilled trades?

Engage with an established recruiting and staffing agency that knows the Witchita region to help you with your search. 

A motivated recruiting firm like Top Notch can streamline the hiring process by helping job seekers like you find the perfect employer.  

We want you to work for a company that values your contributions.

Why settle for just any job when you can choose an opportunity uniquely suited to you? Top Notch Personnel is a staffing and recruiting firm based in Wichita, KS, that specializes in helping job seekers throughout the area find their ideal opportunity.

You work hard. Don’t you deserve a job where you are valued and appreciated?

The right job is about more than just matching skills to job requirements. It also requires learning about the kinds of job environments you will thrive in and asking the right questions to ensure that the employer and employee are the perfect match.

Don’t settle for less than Top Notch. Our name says it all.

Top Notch Personnel is what we provide to employers—talented people like you! That’s why our recruiters put a lot of time and effort into making sure we have the right people with the skills, experience, and work ethic that our employer partners expect. Throughout the entire search and hire process, we treat you with the respect you deserve. 

At Top Notch Personnel, we’ll treat you as an individual, not just a number. When you call our construction recruiters, manufacturing recruiters, aircraft recruiters, or call center recruiters, they will know who you are and will be invested in helping you succeed. 

Our recruiters put you first.

For our recruiters, our candidates and employees are our top priority. Our specialized recruiters understand specific career requirements and how to match a specific, unique person to their ideal job. When you call Top Notch, you know you’re working with an expert in the Wichita, KS job market.  

Best of all, you get the advantage of our long-lasting client partnerships. We know who’s hiring and which companies are the best places to work. 

Ask about our employee benefits. A great job is only the beginning. Benefits are what makes a job worth keeping for a long time. This means health insurance to keep you healthy, pay cycles you can depend on, career advice that can help you make a great impression in an interview, and someone to help you plan a long, successful career. 

Ready to work for a company that values you?

Some staffing and recruiting firms put their clients first. At Top Notch, we focus our efforts equally on job candidates. We can’t succeed unless you’re happy with your job, and we want to make sure that happens.

Are you looking for your dream job?

At Top Notch Personnel, we help candidates, just like you, find the perfect job every day!

Call us today at 316-425-4501, or get in touch online. Our expert recruiters are waiting for your call.