5 Reasons a Career in the Skilled Trades Might Be a Perfect Fit

By Rachel Pitre on Monday, October 15, 2018

1. Student loan debt is out of control.

Student loan debt totals $1.5 trillion in the United States. In Arkansas alone, there are 338,000 students carrying loans totaling $10 billion. Most of this debt is owed by four-year college students who pursued a bachelor’s degree or more — the average Arkansas student owes $26,859. Maybe it’s time to consider an alternative path to a profitable career, in industries desperate to hire skilled young professionals. Our NEXT Pros section reveals who has jobs to fill and how to get them! (See Meet Your Job Match: 15 High-Demand Skilled Trades to Consider and Amazing Industries in Arkansas: Where to Train, Where to Work)

2. A new scholarship is changing the game!

Being open to a non-traditional path doesn’t mean you’re exempt from financial aid opportunities. New from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Workforce Challenge Scholarship is a grant designed to fund the top three high-demand fields in Arkansas — Industry, Health Care and Information Technology. It pays for tuition and fees up to $800 per eligible program (and it can be combined with the AR Future Grant). Since these programs are already a fraction of the cost of a four-year school, this is a huge benefit for those considering a skilled trade within these growth industries.

So how do you get it?

  • You must be an Arkansas resident (or a child less than 21 years old of an Arkansas resident)
  • You must be a graduate of an Arkansas high school (or have a GED)
  • You can’t already be receiving Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship money
  • You must be enrolled in an eligible program.

Keeping things easy for students, applications are submitted through the YOUniversal Scholarship app via the ADHE’s website.

Nursing Assistants
Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses
Medical Assistants
Dental Assistants
Emergency Medical Technicians/Paramedics
Heavy & Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Automotive Service
Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration
Aircraft Mechanics & Service Technicians
Electrical & Electronics Repair
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer User Specialists
Computer Programmers
Health Information Technicians
Computer Network Support Specialists

3. There’s a huge skills gap in Arkansas.

Consider a field where employers are eager to hire you as soon as you’re training is complete. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s a reality right here in Arkansas, where more than 23 percent of current skilled trade professionals in Arkansas are at or near retirement age, and their employers are worried about filling those jobs. Also, many of these same trade professions are seeing growth, creating even more job openings to fill. Let NEXT Pros be your guide to finding one of these jobs — this section exists to help you fast-track a career (and spend less while you’re at it).

4. You can still make the big bucks.

As you dive into this section, you’ll see just how profitable a skilled trades career can be. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear from young pros who are debt free and enjoying higher-than-average wages compared to their peers as you flip through the section. The cushy pay is in large part due to demand — there are simply more jobs to fill than people to fill them!

5. The definition of college is changing (for the better).

College is defined as any education beyond high school; this includes bachelor’s degrees but also includes certificates and workforce skills. So while college is for everyone, a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily for everyone.

We poured our hearts into the creation of this special section and hope it serves you well as you plan for life after high school.

If you have any questions or feedback on this inaugural edition of NEXT Pros, I welcome your emails at Rachel@ABPG.com.