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College vs. Workforce vs. Skilled Trade - Which Path is Right for You?


It's that time of year again when school is out and the future seems both exciting and daunting. Big decisions about your future are weighing on your mind as you consider college, the workforce, or a career in a skilled trade. While the choices may seem overwhelming, it's important to remember that there's no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your interests, goals, and personal priorities. Let’s take a look at the options as you look to make a more informed decision about which career path may be right for you.



College is often viewed as the default option for high school graduates, but it's not for everyone. If you enjoy learning, want to expand your intellectual horizons, and wish to pursue a career in a professional field such as law, medicine, engineering, or business then college may be the right path for you. College is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, explore your interests, and develop critical thinking skills, all while obtaining a degree that can set you up for a successful career. However, college can be expensive and time-consuming, and it's not a guarantee of employment. Therefore, it's important to research thoroughly and ensure that you're choosing a program that aligns with your career goals.



Entering the workforce directly after high school is a popular option for many students. If you're eager to enter the workforce, have technical or vocational skills, or want to start making money sooner rather than later, then the workforce may be the right path for you. You can enter a broad range of sectors, from retail to healthcare to construction, and start earning a paycheck right away. Additionally, you can gain experience, build a network, and develop your soft skills like time management, teamwork, and communication, all of which are attractive to future employers. However, the downside of this option is that you may hit a career ceiling without a degree and may have to go back to school later in life.


Skilled Trade:

For some students, a career in a skilled trade may be the way to go. If you enjoy working with your hands, want to learn a marketable trade and want to earn a good salary, then a trade may be the right path for you. Trades such as carpentry, welding, plumbing, and HVAC are in high demand across the country, and often have high earning potential. Skilled trades require some training or apprenticeship, but usually not a degree, making them an affordable option for those not interested in college. Additionally, trades are always in demand, so once you complete training, you're more likely to find a stable job than college graduates.


Ultimately, the decision to pursue college, work, or a skilled trade comes down to your priorities and goals. Whichever path you choose, make sure to do your research, consider the pros and cons, and seek advice from family and career guidance professionals. The journey may be daunting, but remember that you can always change your path if you discover that you're not happy with your choice.