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HOT TOPIC The US Needs More Tradespeople

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Andy Black

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Lex DeVille

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Any tradesmen here? What do you see on the ground?

In terms of how people look down on trade positions, it's bad. I jokingly told my mom I saw a position at the waste management company that I was thinking of applying for. She nearly lost her mind.
 

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Great post Andy, definitely agree. I'd much rather have a vocational degree in welding or mold making than a liberal arts degree in philosophy.

Could be some Fastlanes hiding in those trades as well.
 

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I read somewhere elevator repair people were so in demand, you could easily get a six figure job with a 15 or 20K signing bonus with just a few years of education. It's sad that these types of professions are not as respected in the US. But sure take out 60K in loans to get a job paying 30K-- that's real smart.
 

JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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In terms of how people look down on trade positions, it's bad. I jokingly told my mom I saw a position at the waste management company that I was thinking of applying for. She nearly lost her mind.
Legit right. Some of those jobs are $20-25 or more and hour and that's only Class B drivers.

CDL-A drivers, think I read there are 30,000 of those jobs open. I'm in the arena of trucks and "blue collar". You need some steady income and are honest...go get a CDL and care about what you do. There are some nice opportunities while working toward fastlane.

PS - Hi Ma'

(Humor, not smart a**...we love our Moms!)
 

Heal Piece

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In terms of how people look down on trade positions, it's bad. I jokingly told my mom I saw a position at the waste management company that I was thinking of applying for. She nearly lost her mind.
Say what you will about waste management, but they generally will pay you upwards of 100k or more if in a big city, even with no degree. 100% a slowlane pursuit, but I would never look down on a tradesman. My own pops was a 30yr HVAC tradesmen and retired at 55. My father in law was a 30 year waste management employee and also retired at 55. Both with full pensions.

Not my dream, but they worked harder than most people ever will. Ever since I was young my pop's mantra to me was "Use your head, not your body to make a living." I suppose this is the evolution of wanting better for your own kids than what you had/did.

LOL reflecting on this, and reading some of these daily update threads today, if some of these "entrepreneurs" worked half as hard and put in half of the hours as most of these tradesmen they'd probably be on their way to flourishing fastlane businesses.
 

AgainstAllOdds

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I'm not a tradesperson, but my business supplies tradespeople solely. I interact with tradespeople on a daily basis, have my warehouse is an industrial district, eat at the same restaurants, and hang out with a lot of them.

Trades are extremely underrated.

I have clients that are hiring ENTRY LEVEL construction workers at $30 an hour for very physically light work. The requirements: show up to work, be dependable, and be able to carry 70lbs at a time for a few minutes a day.

$30 an hour is $60k a year on 40 hour work weeks.

You can't get that working most office jobs right out of school.

I have friends that work downtown Chicago, on salary, pushing 50 hours a week for $35k. And why? Because of pride. They're too proud to get a trade job instead, though I don't blame them for it.

My generation: we've been taught that blue collar jobs are below us. Movies, tv shows, schools, the media... Unless you worked a job in an office, you were made fun of. We were taught that college and university is the only way to have a good life. Then, once someone gets that degree and realizes there's no jobs, they're too proud to take a trade job. It's a sunk cost fallacy of sorts.

Most people don't consider trucking a trade job, but it falls into a similar category of people. Do you know how much I have to pay my trucker in Chicago? $50 an hour part time. Minimum $70k a year full-time if I want someone dependable. And that's not over the road or anything complicated - just get in the truck and drive on the big streets from point A to point B and be home after 5.

You really want to know the fastlane opportunities for trade jobs?


Here you go.

Pick an industry. Pick a business you're interested in. Inquire to buy the business. Sign an NDA. Learn exactly how much money there is in the trades. How much people are paid. How much profit is made. It's eye opening to see the economics of a trade business.

Everyone here wants to do e-commerce and buy an online business. In my opinion it's 10x harder making money that way than something boring and old. The multiples for a trade business are a bit higher, maybe 3.5x for good businesses, but the money is also a lot less risky. You can acquire businesses with SBA loans, don't have to worry about "Amazon" shutting you down. Don't have to worry about competition past a few that compete directly against you. It's a lot more stable and easier than most businesses. However, to run a trade business, you have to put your ego aside and accept that your work environment will be blue collar, the area you drive to everyday won't be downtown, the restaurants you'll go to lunch for won't be much fancier than Chipotle. I think that's a fair trade.

@ZCP - Care to chime in? I know you tell a number of the kids you mentor to consider becoming tradesmen.
 

Deleted52409

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I work contruction. The pay is better than anything I can find at the moment. I have never been talked down to by anyone for doing construction.... But then again I don't live in Chicago. I am from a small town not too far away.

All this being said, being in a trade CAN pay. IF you come to work on time and you do the work. Many contractors have low tolerance for anything so if you're daydreaming like in the classroom/office then you will not last long. Yesterday some guy got cursed at and fired from the jobsite for not wearing gloves.

You will also spend a shitload of money on tools and/or gas. It's easy to make a major mistake as well. Especially with electricians. Never done it but I've been told, it's really easy to die doing electrical work. If you get shocked on a 10ft ladder or higher you could easily die. If there is a fire and you were the last electrician in the area, everyone will be pointing fingers at you for a lawsuit.

You will also get cursed at a lot when you're just starting out because you don't know shit and will make a ton of mistakes. And some contractors will work you into the ground (6 days a week, 10 hour days on top of your 2 hour daily commute).

I'm not knocking the trade that I am in. It's the only thing keeping me afloat right now. But again, when you are on the jobsite you can't just sit around and collect a paycheck and do it half assed like at the office. Most construction jobs are not so easily automated. Therefore you will earn that $50k penny by penny.
 

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MTEE1985

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My understanding was over in the UK they had a system that addressed this where toward the latter end of high school you were essentially slotted either university or pushed into learning a trade as opposed to taking 4 years to find yourself and accumulate $50,000 in debt while doing it...anybody have any knowledge on this or was I misinformed? I could be way off and oversimplifying.

Anyway, even 2 years after the article was written I’m sure things haven’t changed, if anything, probably gotten worse. I suspect there is more money in underwriting trillions worth of student loans than the income tax these potential workers would pay, hence why our government will never seriously address nor openly support it.
 
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Kruiser

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I have huge respect for the trades, but I would never want to work in one. I would just find them to be . . . boring. I would rather work an office job for $35k than a trade for $60k. But that's just me.

Others are just the opposite. One of my favorite books is Shop Craft as Soul Craft. It is written by a UChicago Phd who ended up running a think tank in DC. But he thought it was boring and pointless, so he opened up a motorcycle repair shop instead. Similarly (sort of), there is a cop in my city who is a Harvard law grad. He practiced law for a while, but thought it was boring and stupid and realized he'd rather be a cop.

I definitely think it is stupid that so many people are pushed into college when they'd be so much better off in the trades. In response to @MTEE1985, I don't know if the UK has such a system. It is my understanding that Germany has something like what you described, but it starts in high school.
 
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Andy Black

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What’s it like out there for tradesmen? Are any of them building successful businesses around their skill?
 

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My understanding was over in the UK they had a system that addressed this where toward the latter end of high school you were essentially slotted either university or pushed into learning a trade as opposed to taking 4 years to find yourself and accumulate $50,000 in debt while doing it...anybody have any knowledge on this or was I misinformed? I could be way off and oversimplifying.

Anyway, even 2 years after the article was written I’m sure things haven’t changed, if anything, probably gotten worse. I suspect there is more money in underwriting trillions worth of student loans than the income tax these potential workers would pay, hence why our government will never seriously address nor openly support it.
That was the case a several decades ago.

When I was at school (about 13 years ago) university was all the rage, and everyone was pushed to go.

I think the powers that be have since realised this was a silly idea and trade skills after school are opening up again (by that I mean, being recommended by the schools), but not to the extent there were in the 70s / 60s.
 

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After some self-reflection this was a mistake I made.

I went to University to get a degree where in our modern economy there is no need for.

Our University system has lost it's mind and is completely out of touch with reality.

Instead of paying attention to economic trends and market needs, our Universities are so arrogant they think they are so good they don't need to care about any of that.

What we have today is the result of this naive thinking, lots of young people with worthless degrees, no jobs and a lot of useless debt to service. And thank dumbass Uncle Sam for guaranteeing easy money because of the false idea that college is worth millions. Very frustrating.

Meanwhile all these blue collar jobs are available. I think it's very respectable to know how to fix or build stuff and get your hands dirty.
 

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My dad got into bus driving a few years ago. Got his CDL. Started part-time. What I didn't know was that bus drivers start off with higher pay than most of the corporate jobs in the area.

A few years later he became the Assistant Bus Director and now holds a position as Bus Director at the biggest area school. He earns over $60k and recently applied for a position with another school paying over $100k.

Nobody wants to drive a school bus. It's hard to find and retain talent. A lot of crack heads apply and get jobs because there's nobody else who wants to do it.

From a Fastlane perspective, there's tons of opportunities with bus driving. Ride-sharing services, automated bus concepts, better monitoring systems to watch kids, better check-in / check-out systems so parents know if their kids got on the bus and made it to school.

On the part about liberal arts degrees, I disagree that they are worthless. Most people don't understand how to leverage their degree or don't want to. They get a B.A. or an M.A. and apply for higher paying jobs. They don't use their B.A. to build credibility or authority and sell high-end products or services etc.

A degree isn't essential to "make it" but there are ways to leverage it into Fastlane opportunities. There are many positions that aren't open to people who don't have the appropriate level of education. You can't just be a psychologist and start treating patients. You need a Doctorate's degree and licenses in most places. That's a high barrier to entry.

In my opinion it isn't a battle of fancy degree vs. trade. It's a matter of perspective and having the vision to see opportunities around you whatever way you go
 
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In my opinion it isn't a battle of fancy degree vs. trade. It's a matter of perspective and having the vision to see opportunities around you whatever way you go
Agreed.

My stepson just finished his 4 year Business Management degree. He was a bit upset that he can't just walk into a j.o.b. that's not entry level. He didn't enjoy college one bit. I think he'd have preferred to get a job and just work his way up. He's streetsmart more than academic. I think streetsmart beats academic anyway.

On the subject of trades... I think we're meaning vocational skills here. A friend popped round for a coffee the other week. He's an industrial pipe-fitter/welder. I mentioned how I'd married into a family of tradesmen, and joked that I'm one of them glorified typists sitting in my home office all day long. He disagreed and said I'm also a tradesman. AKA I have a skill people pay for.

It's been mentioned before in other threads, that FU Money is what we're after, but having FU Skills is pretty damn good. We can move jobs with FU Skills. We can build businesses around our FU Skills - when we start picking up Biz Dev Skills.

I consider graphic design, web design, copywriting, etc trades as well.
 

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There is the same sentiment towards trades here in Australia. I spent my high school days at a private school that charged a hefty fee, they were completely focused on getting the most amount of kids into university as they could - nothing else. No mentoring about future in trades after school or other possibilities. It was made to seem that unless you go to university, get a degree - you would amount to little.
 

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What’s it like out there for tradesmen? Are any of them building successful businesses around their skill?
Absolutely.
I just had one customer come into our store yesterday and pick up 200 hi-viz t shirts with their printed logo on each. He owns a masonry outfit.
Told me yesterday he now has 80 hands on the books working!
Started 4 years ago with 6 workers.
If you know spanish, it is extremely helpful to create a biz in some trade niches. BTW, this is his 4th order so far this year. Cement masons are hard on shirts, but great for me.

One of my daughters, a single parent couldn't earn enough money to make ends meet for her small family-until she was able to get into the same apprenticeship her dad did ;).
She just graduated last week as a journeyman after a 4 year apprenticeship. She can now travel anywhere in the US, as many 'travelers' or 'boomers' do hitting one 'boom job' (overtime jobs-usually 'shutdowns' in car plants, steel mills, etc) after another.
All overtime.
She is currently working 7-10's at a shutdown and knocking down over $2k/week 'takehome.' She loves it. I did this myself for years and boomed from one overtime job to the next. You literally get into a circuit and see the same guys on each job. Many only work 6 months a year and take off the other 6 months. 100k is possible in that time working hours like that. You just have to wrap your head around working long hours and saving every penny for your goal.
If done right, it can create the funds to build your business. (basically like I did)

On another note, I sell the products to tradespeople. Just signed an agreement to open my second B&M store this past week. I am planning on having a 'soft opening' Aug. 1. Thought about writing a progress thread on this endeavor, but too busy just to get these doors open, among other business endeavors. Will try to post some info/pictures on the Inside soon.
Finding knowledgeable help is probably the biggest hurdle. If this works as expected, and the economy continues to bode well (which I highly doubt) I hope to open a third store within the next 12 months and from there 'cookie cutter' (scale) this model throughout the region. I'm finally figuring out the processes...

Yes, there are many, many possibilities in the trades. Both, to work, and also to supply.

But don't tell anybody.
It just gives me more opportunities with less competition;)
 

Scott0268

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Agreed! Some of the most successful , talented people I know and work with don't have college degree! I was talking with a friend of mine that owns a large HVAC company and pays his top techs 100k a year. Not a bad ROI for going to a 10k technical school.
 

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Another topic I thought to address is this idea that "mexicans migrants" are doing all of our manual labor now. I would say that this is somewhat TRUE. However where I live 99% of them are doing unskilled labor. Roofing, Drywall, Carpet, Landscaping, Carpentry and other similar types of labor.

Anything that requires an apprenticeship or some sort of higher advanced trade school, I have never seen them do.
 

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I went to a vocational school a few years ago for industrial technology (essentially learned CAD and some basics about manufacturing). It took me 16 months full-time, the total cost would have been $6k but FAFSA ended up paying for the whole thing, and I got a check every few months for $1k+ on top of that.

After a year in class I got a job at a local manufacturer (almost every program at that school had and still has a 100% placement rate, the welding program has had a waitlist to get in since I was in school there) making $15/hr and finished up school with night classes 3x a week.

2 years later I got a job as a mechanical designer making $25/hr, now I do product design, manufacturing engineering, quality control, robotics, get to learn everything about how a manufacturing business is run.

I highly recommend anyone who doesn't want to do a STEM degree or start their own business immediately, go to a vocational school. The opportunities are immense, it's cheap, trades pay well. We have an extremely hard time finding reliable people at my company. The guy they had before me sat on his computer watching youtube all day, the machinists they've had were unreliable or terrible at their job.

As others have said, if you work hard and show up on time, you can make a lot of money quickly and learn valuable skills to pour into your own business.
 

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I spent my high school days at a private school that charged a hefty fee, they were completely focused on getting the most amount of kids into university as they could - nothing else.
I think this is a big part of the problem.

High school success metrics are based on graduation rates and college acceptance rates. The administration down to the teachers are convinced and brainwashed into believing that going to college is all that matters, and then they rub off that misguided "wisdom" on the kids.
 

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Tradespeople have a decided advantage over the highly "educated". Welders, pipefitters, carpenters, etc can always find employment and have skills that lend themselves to entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, many of those folks don't realize their potential and stay in dead-end hourly-wage jobs.

A PhD in ancient architecture gets you what? A job teaching ancient architecture? Like MJ, I'm not saying all higher education is a waste. BUT it is not THE answer. When combined with real world experience and the right mindset, it can be very powerful. It's all up to us.

What we do with what we learn and experience in life dictates our futures.
 
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SparksCW

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I have a trade background, I'm a big fan of apprenticeships.

You get paid to learn something that's in demand, and every trade has so many horizontals and verticals to service.... either a good job, a new innovation, a new business etc.

There are so many opportunities, you get paid to explore them and worst case you have a well-paying trade behind you.

They are even better for young people who "don't know what they want to do yet" as you get paid to learn a lifelong paying skill whilst figuring things out. I was about 27 when I finally figured out what I wanted to do, and it was a move away from trades, BUT it's still closely related just serving the audience in a different way to on the tools. At that time though I was a qualified trades person and I was running a business for someone else so I learnt a LOT that carried over to my current businesses.
 

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Any tradesmen here? What do you see on the ground?

Another topic I thought to address is this idea that "mexicans migrants" are doing all of our manual labor now. I would say that this is somewhat TRUE. However where I live 99% of them are doing unskilled labor. Roofing, Drywall, Carpet, Landscaping, Carpentry and other similar types of labor.

Anything that requires an apprenticeship or some sort of higher advanced trade school, I have never seen them do.
All manual labor isn't "unskilled."
This is the blindspot.
Leaf blowing is unskilled.
Tree branch cutting is skilled.
Carpentry is highly, highly skilled. And roofing.
Try calculating the amount of lumber, and the cut lengths, that you'd need to build a saltbox room addition over a garage.
No architect is needed because you're the carpenter.
Try calculating the amount of shields you need for the electronics on your fishing fleet and their exact location. Then go buy it and install it.
That's manual labor.
 
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