More and more students are choosing trade industry training as a quicker and cheaper option to get into the workforce than a conventional four-year degree.
According to the National College Board, a four-year in-state tuition at a public university is around $40,000. The cost to attend a private college for four years is more than $120,000.
Those figures are resulting in more students like Andy Haritonovich flocking to trade schools like Lincoln Electric Company training center. At Lincoln Electric, welding prospects pay about $10,000 for a comprehensive five-week program that prepares them to walk right into an entry-level job in the field.
“There is a lack of trades right now so the demand is pretty high so getting a job at this point is more likely than it used to be," said Haritonovich.
Trade workers like plumbers, electricians, and construction workers are in high demand all over the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says welders will typically earn anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 in their first jobs but if they continue seeking training and schooling, those salaries can double.
"They may be starting right now as what we might define as a welder but in a couple years, they could be a robotic technician. They could go to more training and become an inspector,” said Jason Scales, who is the Business Manager of Education at Lincoln Electric. “So we see this more as a catalyst that they can grow from and not just a catalyst of where they would stop."
The opportunity for advancement was more than enough to convince Haritonovich, who says he dabbled in the four-year option like some of his friends but believes the trade route is better suited for him.
"They had gotten their bachelor degrees but didn't really help them so hopefully trades as of now they're in high demand so it should help me out.”
The BLS also says that demand for welders is higher in the Cleveland region than anywhere else in the state of Ohio and that average pay for entry-level jobs in Northeast Ohio is nearly $6,000 more than in other parts of the state.