The Republican Party has openly questioned the value of higher education, and the four-year college degree — ironic given the vast majority of their leadership attended college. The data does not support their position.
The U.S. average salary for skilled trades (from the https://www.payscale.com/index/US/Industry website):
Plumber: $20-$26 per hour
Electrician: $20-$26 per hour
HVAC: $18-$20 per hour
Machinist: $15-$18 per hour
Or, $36,000 to $52,000 per year (midrange of $44,000). The higher paid positions are for Master level positions which require approximately four years of work and exam that occur after 3-5 years as an apprentice and an exam. So the process is not quick and easy. Average apprentice pay is $14-15 per hour.
The U.S. average salary for engineers (civil, electrical, and mechanical) is $65,000 to $72,000.
The U.S. average annual salary for
Biotechnology research associates: $50,000
Software developers: $75,000
Not into science? the U.S. average annual salary for
Graphic designers: $41,000 (Senior Graphic designer $61,000)
Human resources specialists: $49,000
The median salary for workers between the ages of 35—44, arguably prime earning years (from https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/cps-pinc/pinc-03.html):
a high school diploma is $32,000
an associate degree is $42,000
a bachelor’s degree is $61,000
a master’s degree is $70,000
a doctorate or professional degree is $100,000
It is possible for a high school graduate to earn over $100,000? For individuals between 35—44 years of age, that number was 4% of those with earnings. For those with a bachelor degree, it was almost 23%!
It is helpful for young people to have options, but they should be aware of how their education level dramatically impacts the potential for financial independence.
The current educational system produced the income distributions summarized above. Efforts to drive more people to “skilled trades” will lower the number of people available to fill higher salary positions that require a bachelor’s degree or greater. It’s those higher salary positions that drive the U.S. economy and the current Republican war on education is short-sighted and self-serving.