Not so long ago, dad or grandpa would spend all weekend building and fixing machines in the garage. But today, we outsource the maintenance of our cars, computers, and home repairs to specialists, which drives up the costs of those services while causing a skills gap between the average American and the mechanical wizards who still know how to do this vital work.
America has always been a land of do-it-yourself determination, but lately our hands-on experience is in decline — and that could lead us into a dangerously dependent future.
What happens when nobody knows how to fix anything anymore?
One Pittsburgh school is hoping to avert this catastrophe by training tomorrow’s technicians today.
The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) ranked #11 overall and topped the list for the technical trades in a 2017 Forbes list of Top 30 U.S. Two-Year Trade Schools. PIA graduates receive practical hands-on training in the very skills that the emerging A.I. economy will rely on, including propulsion systems, electricity, sheet metal, hydraulics, instruments & controls, composite materials, non-destructive testing, painting, welding, and more.
On average, electricians now earn nearly $5,000 more yearly than the average college graduate (NPR, 2015).
While PIA specializes in aviation maintenance programs, the versatility of its curriculum has already been proven by the variety of placements its graduates have obtained. PIA grads have earned technical careers at regional and major airlines, aircraft production and maintenance facilities, amusement parks, automated production facilities, government contractors, and many more.
And when your self-driving car breaks down in the not-too-distant-future, it’s likely that a PIA grad will have the skills to save the day.
What’s Wrong with a 1- or 2-Year School?
With the HIGH cost of a college education, what is wrong with attending a 1- or 2-year school instead of pursuing a 4-year degree? Nothing! Absolutely zip, nada, zilch. Consider the following:
The electrical trade has long been associated with high earning power, which is directly tied to the importance of the work electricians do. On average, electricians now earn nearly $5,000 more yearly than the average college graduate (NPR, 2015).
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for electricians was $51,880, as of May 2015, with the top 10 percent earning more than $88,130.
The average hourly rate for a plumber is $25.88, according to the 2013 data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate fluctuates widely based on the geographic region and the type of work being performed. Median wages range from a low of $14.23 an hour to a high of $41.40 an hour.
Plumbers address a multitude of issues related to pipes or septic systems, often working in unpleasant and even hazardous environments. A thorough knowledge of building codes and the ability to safely operate a wide range of tools is essential. Not surprisingly, plumbers typically command a significant hourly wage. What’s more, employment for plumbers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, a faster rate than most other occupations.
With the exorbitant cost today of a 4-year college education, I think that “Making a Case for the Trades” is something that many more young people should be considering. Less time. Less debt. Good pay. If you’re good with your hands, what’s not to like?