Changing Careers & Finding Your Niche: Lucrative Careers in Skilled Trades

For decades, the traditional career path to success has always been to go to college to live the “American Dream.” Well, over the years, millions of people have learned the hard way that college isn’t for everyone, and it’s most certainly not always the career pathway to success.

That’s not saying that college is pointless or useless by any means; There are millions of people who’ve gone to college and earned their degree and went on to live extremely successful professional lives… But what it is saying is that college isn’t for everyone. Did you know that only 27% of college graduates are working in the career they went to college for?

College graduates, on average, make around $50,000 annually, but rack up $30,000 or more in student loan debt. So even if a graduate finds a career in the $50,000 range, nearly half of their yearly earnings will be owed to college debt.

What many people fail to realize is that earning a college degree isn’t the only way for you to lead a successful professional career. In fact, choosing a career in the skilled trades not only doesn’t require a college degree but in most cases, is more lucrative than careers that require one.

If you’re at a crossroad between whether you should go/go back to college or if a complete career change is in your future, take a moment to look at your career options in skilled trades.


Most people look at cosmetology as an artistic or creative career, but because cosmetology requires training and licensing, it’s also considered a skilled trade as well. With a career in cosmetology, you’re not only going to be creatively responsible for transforming clients’ hair, skin, and nails into works of art but you’re going to also have to learn the science behind various styling techniques and stay current with trends in the industry.

Home Inspector

Think of it like this… Home inspectors are primary care doctors of homes; You inspect a home, determine what’s wrong with it, and refer sellers or buyers to contractors that can fix those issues. As a home inspector, you’re the person home buyers and sellers fear the most because you’re the determiner of if a home is safe to live in.

You’ll not only be trained on what to look for on the interiors and exteriors of a home but you’ll also receive specialized training on structural systems of a home, including heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems.

Construction Contractor

As a contractor, you have the ability to work in a variety of specializations, whether you want to be an electrician, HVAC specialist, plumber, or construction contractor. But just like a career in cosmetology, Being a contractor requires obtaining a license, especially when getting a contractor’s license in Tennessee.

As a construction contractor, you’re going to be responsible for hiring and overseeing the construction crew throughout the duration of an entire project. You’re also going to be the one responsible for obtaining the proper building permits, building materials, and ensuring the project follows all state, local, and federal regulations.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

The world of healthcare is a very rewarding career to be in, given the fact that the care you provide is what improves the lives of your patients. As an LPN, some of your main responsibilities will include passing medication, checking vitals, and bathing/dressing patients, all of which contribute to the improvement of their quality of life.

You will be working in healthcare settings that include but are not limited to hospitals, long-term care facilities, walk-in clinics, and residential homes for home care services. This profession sometimes requires you to work hours extending past the typical 8-hour shift, so maintaining your own physical and mental health will be of great importance for you to give the care you need to your patients.

There are several other lucrative careers in the skilled trades that also don’t require a college degree. All of the careers listed above require special training and licensing to perform the required job duties. The licensing and training for these careers are nowhere near four years, allowing you to learn a skill in a demanding field that will always be needed by consumers. When college isn’t the answer, learning a skilled trade usually is.

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