Despite the demand for skilled tradespeople and the accompanying high salaries, job availability and security, results from a recent survey show young Americans have an alarming lack of awareness about these opportunities.

According to a national poll of men and women ages 18-24, knowledge was lacking in regard to trade schools and few even considered the trades as an option after graduating high school. More than half (62%) said they didn’t learn about trade schools in high school, and more than two thirds (68%) said trade school was never discussed by their guidance counselor.

Respondents also revealed some negative stigma associated with the skilled trades. Half of those surveyed said they would rather be a barista than a welder, even though top welding jobs can pay more than $100,000 per year. Fifty five percent (55%) of respondents also believe that people with office jobs earn more respect than those who work with their hands.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average trade school degree costs $33,000, compared to a $127,000 bachelor’s degree. Despite the dramatically lower cost of trade schools, nearly two thirds (65%) of the respondents of this survey believed that student debt was simply the price you pay for a college education. Student Loan Hero reports 69 percent of students from the Class of 2018 took out student loans, graduating with an average debt balance of $29,800, with 12 percent of student loans being 90 or more days delinquent or in default.

Below are the full results of the survey commissioned by Metal Supermarkets, the world’s largest supplier of small -quantity metals, to find some of the common perceptions persist for trade careers. Also view accompanying Infographic here.

1. What is your gender?

  • 50.1% said Male
  • 49.9% said Female

2. What is your age?

  • 14.7% said 18
  • 13.9% said 19
  • 12.9% said 20
  • 12.5% said 21
  • 14.3% said 22
  • 15.0% said 23
  • 16.8% said 24

3. Which State do you live in?

  • 1.60% said Alabama
  • 0.20% said Alaska
  • 3.00% said Arizona
  • 1.00% said Arkansas
  • 10.10% said California
  • 2.20% said Colorado
  • 0.80% said Connecticut
  • 0.40% said Delaware
  • 7.90% said Florida
  • 3.60% said Georgia
  • 0.80% said Hawaii
  • 0.60% said Idaho
  • 4.20% said Illinois
  • 2.40% said Indiana
  • 0.60% said Iowa
  • 0.60% said Kansas
  • 1.60% said Kentucky
  • 0.60% said Louisiana
  • 0.20% said Maine
  • 0.80% said Maryland
  • 2.20% said Massachusetts
  • 2.20% said Michigan
  • 3.00% said Minnesota
  • 1.00% said Mississippi
  • 1.80% said Missouri
  • 0.20% said Montana
  • 1.40% said Nevada
  • 0.40% said New Hampshire
  • 3.20% said New Jersey
  • 0.40% said New Mexico
  • 6.50% said New York
  • 3.60% said North Carolina
  • 0.20% said North Dakota
  • 5.70% said Ohio
  • 0.40% said Oklahoma
  • 0.60% said Oregon
  • 5.50% said Pennsylvania
  • 0.60% said South Carolina
  • 0.40% said South Dakota
  • 2.20% said Tennessee
  • 7.50% said Texas
  • 1.00% said Utah
  • 2.40% said Virginia
  • 3.00% said Washington
  • 1.00% said West Virginia
  • 0.60% said Wisconsin
  • 0.20% said Wyoming

4. What did you do immediately after high school?

  • 59.8% said College
  • 5.7% said Trade School
  • 26.9% said Work
  • 7.5% said Other (fill-in answer choice)

5. Are/Were you interested in going to trade school?

  • 44.0% said Yes
  • 56.0% said No

6. You said you were not interested in going to trade school, why? (check all that apply)

  • 66.1% said I don’t know enough about it
  • 31.4% said I don’t think it will provide me with a better future
  • 12.0% said I don’t think I’ll get a good job after trade school
  • 6.7% said Kids who aren’t as smart go to trade school
  • 17.3% said I don’t think it will help me earn good money

7. Did you learn a lot about trade school opportunities in high school?

  • 37.8% said Yes
  • 62.2% said No

8. Did your high school guidance counsellor discuss trade school with you?

  • 31.5% said Yes
  • 68.5% said No

9. Do you know the trade schools in your area?

  • 42.2% said Yes
  • 57.8% said No

10. Do you think traditional college gives you a better future than trade school? (check all that apply)

  • 32.1% said YES after traditional college, I’ll earn more money than if I went to trade school
  • 25.1% said YES after traditional college, I’ll get a better job than if I went to trade school
  • 36.6% said YES after traditional college, I’ll have more career opportunities than if I went to trade school
  • 35.0% said NO traditional college does not provide a better future than trade school

11. People who go to trade school: (Check all that apply)

  • 9.3% said Weren’t that smart in high school
  • 11.7% said Aren’t book smart
  • 64.6% said Like to work with their hands
  • 20.6% said Aren’t as good in traditional school subjects like English, History or Math
  • 5.3% said Can’t read that well
  • 17.2% said Don’t have a solid plan for their future
  • 10.5% said Won’t make good money
  • 20.4% said Go to trade school because it’s their only choice other than the military

12. True or False If you want a high paying job, you must go to traditional college instead of trade school?

  • 33.7% said True
  • 66.3% said False

13. Would you rather have a job as a teacher or a mechanic?

  • 57.0% said Teacher
  • 43.0% said Mechanic

14. Would you rather have a job as a barista or a welder?

  • 50.1% said Barista
  • 49.9% said Welder

15. Would you rather have a job as a local TV news or sports reporter OR an electrician?

  • 56.0% said TV news or sports reporter
  • 44.0% said Electrician

16. What do you think is the average yearly salary of a plumber in the U.S.?

  • 13.50% said $20,000 a year
  • 15.40% said $30,000 a year
  • 16.40% said $40,000 a year
  • 17.60% said $50,000 a year
  • 14.30% said $60,000 a year
  • 8.50% said $70,000 a year
  • 7.10% said $80,000 a year
  • 2.80% said $90,000 a year
  • 4.40% said $100,000 a year or more

17. What do you think a welder on the job in the U.S. for 10 years can earn?

  • 15.40% said $40,000 or less
  • 16.40% said $50,000
  • 18.40% said $60,000
  • 15.20% said $70,000
  • 34.50% said $80,000 or more

18. Who makes more money?

  • 20.4% said Teacher
  • 79.6% said Mechanic

19. Do you think you can get a high-paying job if you go to trade school?

  • 79.0% said Yes
  • 21.0% said No

20. Do you believe it’s easier to find and keep a job by going to a four-year college rather than a trade school?

  • 46.7% said Yes
  • 53.3% said No

21. Do you believe it’s more respectable to have a job working in an office or with your hands?

  • 54.9% said People with office jobs get more respect
  • 45.1% said People who work with their hands get more respect

22. Would you marry someone who is a skilled trade worker?

  • 86.3% said Yes
  • 13.7% said No

23. Do you believe students attending trade schools are not as smart as those attending four-year colleges?

  • 25.1% said Yes
  • 74.9% said No

24. Do you believe students attending trade schools are not as motivated as those attending four-year colleges?

  • 25.1% said Yes
  • 74.9% said No

25. Do you believe students attending trade schools come from lower income families than those attending four-year colleges?

  • 40.4% said Yes
  • 59.6% said No

26. Do you believe student debt is the price you pay to get a college education?

  • 65.3% said Yes
  • 34.7% said No

*Please cite Metal Supermarkets as the source for this survey.

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