At the end of last month, the US Department of Labor included manufacturing in a list of “10 good jobs that don’t need a degree.”
They said that industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance workers and millwright positions are expected to increase by 17% in the next 7 years, and applicants who are qualified should have very good job prospects when applying.
The department noted that maintenance workers will usually be trained on-the-job repairing industrial machinery for only a year or less, while mechanics often have more demanding requirements of training that lasts over a year after high school.
Machinery in factories, construction sites and power plants are installed, dismantled, repaired and moved by millwrights. Millwrights almost always must participate in four years of apprenticeship first, but still does not require having that costly college degree.
- Maintenance workers: on-the-job training for one year or less
- Mechanics: more than one year of training
- Millwrights: four year apprenticeship
In 2012, the median salary for these positions was recorded as being over $45k/year, which is fairly comparable to many other jobs listed, ranging from $41k/year to $76k/year.
Many of these other positions were in similar types of maintenance and construction fields, including elevator installers and repairers, construction and building inspectors, electricians, plumbers and iron workers.
Others included property and real estate managers, insurance sales agents and real estate brokers—all attainable without that mountain of student debt from a college degree.
College loans have become the second-largest form of consumer debt behind housing. —Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Student debt increasing quickly
This becomes especially noteworthy as the total debt in America from student loans has grown to $1.2 trillion, and is now the “second-largest form of consumer debt behind housing”, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
This has caused record-setting numbers of college students to delay personal and economic decisions, from getting married to buying homes, and has even led to many people totally reconsidering their career plans.
Skill gap widening
This is why manufacturers are warning of a massive gap between the kinds of jobs that are available, and the number of qualified individuals with the skills to fill those jobs. Some are saying that because of this, “we will see a resurgence of apprentice programs and job-specific training offered to employees,” like what we’re seeing in the US Department of Labor’s list mentioned above.
Despite writing that there are certainly some decent paying jobs available without a college degree, the department does begin the article by saying that “a college degree is more important than ever when it comes to being competitive in today’s job market.”
The manufacturing industry, it would seem, may be one great option for those looking for a career without living hugely in debt.
What do you think? Would you advise those seeking a career without student loans to look into the manufacturing field? Leave your comments below.
Share this article with those considering a new or different career in manufacturing.