{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Serious question: if a construction worker/electrician/plumber can make a six figure TC, what’s the purpose of going to college and even getting a master’s degree? I’m watching CNBC Make It and this 24-year old guy who’s a overhead lineman is earning a base of 120k and a TC of 230k and buying properties in Chicago to make more money.", "post_id": "623360995a73ab0037b02592", "reply_count": 11, "vote_count": 1, "bowl_id": "5fdbeef07748c5001ae5543a", "bowl_name": "Career Advice for Students", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Serious question: if a construction worker/electrician/plumber can make a six figure TC, what’s the purpose of going to college and even getting a master’s degree? I’m watching CNBC Make It and this 24-year old guy who’s a overhead lineman is earning a base of 120k and a TC of 230k and buying properties in Chicago to make more money.

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Count the number of blue collar workers making $200k in their twenties, then count the number of college grads at that level. Count again in 10 years. I totally respect the hustle, but that's a rare outcome.


Also we are in an incredibly hot construction market right now, with a ton of money in the system. But when a recession comes , those are often the first jobs to go and there are massive layoffs. It’s not just peak salary during hot times, but job security and total comp over a career that matters (obviously you can try to hedge this by doing things like buying investment properties but it’s not that easy).

For every 20 something making six figures in blue collar now, in 2009 I could have found you five out of work 40 somethings with too high a mortgage and bad knees


Most of those people are unicorns in comparison to what you can earn doing average white collar work. Take it from the son of a contractor who’s been doing it for 45+ years, it’s very, VERY, cyclical, during recoveries and peaks he makes well over six figures, recessions and troughs, he’s barely scraping by.

You also sell your body, my dad is stiff as a board every morning and constantly groans in pain throughout the day. He could very possibly not live to see 70 with all his problems.

Trades can be a very worthwhile investment, but it’s usually better to go to college and get a degree in a field with job security. It’s way better risk mitigation. I know guys who drank the Kool Aid and are stuck working in roto rooter and basic electrician jobs making around 50-60k per year. Construction isn’t much better, everyone and their brother wants to be a contractor right now and they think just buying a toolbox qualifies them.

Stick with college, as someone who’s worked blue collar and now works white collar, white collar is more worth in the long run.


Because the guy you’re talking about works insane hours and multiple jobs. He has a physically laborious job. I would rather sit my ass in a chair and use my brain than risk my physical health and body


This is a good question, and it’s part of the reason the value of a college diploma is dropping like a rock.

As some people have touched on, it’s tough to do manual labor your entire life.

Those are very valid points. I currently saw this post of a guy talking about his brother making 190K TC at the age of 19 as a construction worker. And that, along with this overhead lineman guy, makes me wonder if that’s normal for a blue collar worker to make that much while we are making less in consulting😂

I make $200K at 28 and all I do is wake up, sit at my desk for 6 hours, and my body can do this for much longer. My job is also much more stable and I have way more options than a trade worker. My salary is also more guaranteed and not an exception

Also Go Blue!

Salaries are high in trade industries right now because there is less supply of people with trade skills. The huge push towards college degrees means that less people are pursuing apprenticeships and careers in the trade industries.

Keep in mind those are construction jobs which are
1) Require you to move around after every project to where the work is, not a problem at 20 but at 40 you may feel differently. Worth considering.
2) A cyclical industry that will have huge upswings and huge downswings. I’ve seen construction guys go back to school to get their GEDs because their previous high school diploma was through the tech department and no one would hire them outside of their construction during a downturn.
3) Manual labor is tough on the body and can cause pain/issues over time. An accident can throw out your career. Getting hired or promoted without a college degree can be a hassle. My husband has 20 years of experience in different industries, and keeps getting passed over on a promotion because a job that shouldn’t require a degree does. He constantly gets more work put on him and promising he’ll get a raise or promotion, when the time comes the manager says there’s nothing they can do. So at 42 he’s back in school.

A masters degree may be needed for certain jobs or have you come in a level higher… but mostly a bachelors degree is fine depending what your field is. I got my masters for free as I was going to pursue a Ph D, got scholarships, earned the masters, and decided more wasn’t for me and left.

I worked in landscape construction throughout HS and my freshman year of college. Manual labor jobs can be lucrative, but you pay for it with your body. I would gladly take half the pay to sit at a desk all day than to destroy the cartilage in my knees and be covered in dirt. For perspective, my company worked on high-residential (hundred millionaire and even billionaire estates) along with large commercial projects. This was the dream market for LS contractors and we were the dominant firm in our area. My former boss, who is the owner of the company, can't stand for more than 3 hours now due to nerve damage. He's only 45 and has full college funds for both of his kids to make sure they don't fall into that line of work. Money can't buy health once it’s gone.

And you don't have to go through a bachelor's degree first. If investing in your education is not something you are comfortable doing now, go to a community college, try a trade school. It's better to do these things while you're young. You can always go back to school.

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