Tonawanda News


April 30, 2013

CONFER: Choosing a trade over college, part II


Tonawanda News — High school seniors who took machining at BOCES are guaranteed a job immediately upon graduation and, in most cases, were claimed by area machine shops and factories in their junior year. A BOCES machining graduate, fresh out of school, could command a starting pay in the range of $15 to $20 per hour throughout the northeast, more if he left the area.

Teens who pursue nursing at BOCES, either in high school or afterwards, in effort to become Licensed Practical Nurses, also face a welcoming job market. Due to the aging baby boomer population and the stress it places on the health industry, there will be a nursing shortage over the next decade and beyond when demand is expected to outstrip supply.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs at the lowest 10% of the wage scale earn $14.89/hour, while the median wage rate is a smidge under $20. Those wages are expected to rise as the health sector changes. Plus, the role of LPN is often used as a stepping stone for those looking to become registered nurses, who bring in a median wage in excess of $31.

We can’t forget truck drivers, either. Although commercial driver licenses aren’t offered as a part of curriculum to high school students, most BOCES offer them to adults. A high school graduate who invests just $2,500 to $4,000 into a CDL will find himself with opportunity: there are currently 400,000 openings for CDL drivers nationally and that mismatch of supply versus demand will be in favor of the licensed drivers for the long haul as a good portion of truck drivers are entering their retirement years. Because of that, the starting salary for truck drivers ranges from $38,000 for local work to $45,000 for over-the-road haulers. Experienced long-distance drivers net $75,000 and many top out at $100,000.

So, it’s not surprising that the trade certificates earn just as much as – and, in most cases, even more than – college diplomas. Recent college grads earn an average of $16.81/hour, a value that has remained relatively flat over the past decade. Ongoing salary growth is restrained as well.

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