My dad worked for a municipality as a laborer and then as a skilled laborer. He put in 28 years and retired with $4K per month pension for the rest of his life plus social security. He did not go to college and for most of his life was pretty broke raising 4 kids. But he knew he had that pension waiting for him. Now life is good, he does whatever he wants and has no real responsibilities beyond hanging out with his grandkids.
My two older brothers are both trade guys as well. One is an electrician making over six figures a year now, but for the last 10 years his income was around the $68 to $80K mark. My oldest brother retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant who worked in HVAC. He now collects his pension from the military and has job at a government contractor doing you guess it, HVAC.
There there is me. The unconventional creative type. I don't say this to show off or anything, but I'm the type that never really fit in. I'm currently running a six figure online business based around YouTube, websites, freelance on Fiverr, running paid ads and email marketing all while living abroad.
Should I go to college or trade school?
My family is quite diverse in terms of being average working class or wealthy. I have an uncle who was a truck driver that passed away a few years ago, my dad as I just mentioned was a laborer, my other uncle (my dad has two brothers) was a wealthy executive at a corporation.
I also have a cousin that has a PHD in accounting and is currently a well compensated a university professor (200K+ a year) and my two other cousins (who's dad was the truck driver) are millionaire VP's of marketing. Then my other cousin (who's brother is the university professor) works a security guard. Yea, really. That extreme of a difference.
The trades are not for everyone, same with the corporate life, same with trying to figure out your own thing. As someone who has actually helped young men with this blog, here’s some advice to help you make a clear assessment on how to move forward.
First, don't permanently screw up your life
Avoid catastrophe. We all know what that looks like. You ever watch " you are the father" from that early 2000's talk show from Maury Povich? You see the life drain out of some young mans eyes the moment he realizes he got some random girl he's not even into pregnant.
You see his hopes and dreams die in real time. Gone is that potential every young person has. Now you're a dad and you have a kid and a promiscuous girl you don't love who doesn't love you.
That's a form of catastrophe.
Say no to drugs kids.
I never did drugs, not even pot. Pot is for losers typically and it's always a "pot guy" who's fat with no money to argue on why pot is not that bad. Go light on the drinking too, it is good to know what you can handle and if you're a potential alcoholic. Be aware though, drinking is far more dangerous than we give it credit.
In short, just don’t do anything stupid before you try to make the “right choice.” First things first, avoid catastrophe.
Then consider the following:
Trades will be in demand, college leads to BS jobs often times
Half my family did trade jobs and thought office jobs must be easier. Trades are hard on the knees. But most college grad jobs are “bullshit jobs.” It’s fake, and that takes a different toll.
Do you want a job that’s fake? You show up to an office, converse with a bunch of midwits who don't realize their mediocre, and all pretend to be doing work? When I worked at PWC I did work with the best of the best so it is possible to be around high quality people in an office setting. But for most that's not going to be your reality.
During my time as an English teacher I was stuck with losers who had no ambition who did not realize they were losers. At most office jobs, you miss out on the desire in your heart of hearts to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Trades at least offer a sense of honest work and feeling like you did something.
Last, there is no denying that we will be facing a population crisis in the coming decades.
You'll want to have that ground wire installed right?
Perhaps you'll need someone to come fix a retaining wall in the backyard?
You'll need a tradesperson for that. Becoming a skilled worker who knows how to maintain society will have you in high demand.
Men are lucky because you have more time
You can take time to figure life out, be a loser in your 30’s, and then turn 40 and no one cares what you were before. I get it, you don’t want to waste time, but you don’t have choose a life path at freaking 18 years old.
I struggled outright in my 20's. From PWC with a high income to no income and trying to figure out something else out. To then going to Thailand in my late 20's to be a perpetually broke English teacher (enjoying life, just had no money) to not finally getting my income sorted until my mid 30's.
When young men ask, “should I go to college,” my answer is always to ask yourself "will college be there in a year?"
So take a year for yourself. Read. Lift. Work. Don’t make a costly mistake you can't come back from. Take a year off, save money, travel, get out into the world a bit away from your parents.
I was so obsessed with money and success
Air Force Reserve, college, then a full time 60+ hour corporate job for a few years. I wish I went abroad to teach English earlier, traveled more and enjoyed being young. Instead I got a 2 week vacation at most for next 20 years in my early 20s. Congratulations on being successful!
We are taught as children to earn A+ grades. The prize of "success" in the system is a job where you could get fired from, no vacation, and stress. But when you’re young, you can work part time, goof off and lean into hobbies. College will be there as long as you don't get someone pregnant of earn yourself a criminal record.
If you’re a young single man, how much money do you need?
Almost nothing. Men say, “we don't have coming of age traditions” but yes we do. Your job is to work enough to feed yourself, pay rent and live. Then build yourself up and create a good life. Then invite a woman in once you're established.
As a man you should be building a life for yourself first. Why do you think the system tells you choose a major when you’re 18 and that you have failed if you work with your hands? They want all your energy used to become a productive cog in the system rather than to build yourself up into a dynamic man who has choice in life.