Trade School Versus College

STEM education and trade education both offer valuable skills and opportunities, but they lead to different career paths with varied salary potential and job environments. Countries need more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) thinkers and innovators. They also need more plumbers, carpenters, electricians etc. In most cities there is a housing shortage and we lack the tradesmen to build new housing. Additionally our future lies with the thinkers, the scientists & engineers. The Tech people.

STEM Education:

STEM education focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and typically leads to careers in fields such as engineering, computer science, healthcare, and research. These careers often require a strong foundation in math and science and may involve working in laboratories, office settings, or in the field. STEM careers are often associated with high earning potential due to the specialized knowledge and skills required.

A Stem career often leads to a large salary. While a STEM career can be interesting and enlightening, it can be tiring to think all day, and remain relatively light on physical activity/exercise.

“The average scientist salary in the USA is $97,481 per year or $46.87 per hour. Entry level positions start at $64,302 per year while experienced workers make up to $150,000 per year.”

“The average engineer salary in the USA is $107,137 per year or $51.51 per hour. Entry level positions start at $82,624 per year while experienced workers make up to $152,449 per year.”

Trade Education:

Trade education, on the other hand, provides training for specific skilled trades such as carpentry, plumbing, welding, and automotive repair. Careers in these fields often involve practical, hands-on work at construction sites, workshops, or in specific service industries. Trade careers can also be lucrative, with some trades offering strong earning potential and opportunities for entrepreneurship.

“The average trade salary in the USA is $59,957 per year or $28.83 per hour. Entry level positions start at $39,677 per year while experienced workers make up to $120,004 per year.”

Educational Institutions

Typically to get into STEM Tech fields one attends College (University or Degree College). To get into a trade one might attend community college (Trade School).

Job Environments:

STEM careers often involve working in technology firms, research institutions, laboratories, healthcare facilities, and corporate offices. These environments may offer opportunities for research, development, and problem-solving, often in collaboration with other professionals. Often STEM professionals work from home or in hybrid situations (i.e. half home, half workplace).

Trade careers often involve hands-on work in construction sites, manufacturing facilities, repair shops, and service industries. Workers in trade professions may be self-employed, work for small businesses, or be employed by larger companies. Work environments maybe outside in harsh or dangerous conditions.


While a trade career may be healthier for you in the end, as you work physically over the course of your career. A STEM career will certainly make you more wealthy. Consider a loose calculation (not inflation adjusted):

(STEM Average Salary – Trade School Salary)*40 yr Career =

($100,000-$60,000)*40 yrs= 1.6 million

Note: Concern over spending a few thousand more per year on tuition for College over trade school is short sighted.


Ultimately, the choice between STEM and trade education depends on individual interests, career goals, and aptitudes. Both STEM and trade education can lead to rewarding careers with opportunities for advancement and financial stability. It is important to consider the specific skills, interests, and work environments that align with an individual’s goals when making a career path decision. Each path offers unique advantages and opportunities for those who pursue them. Additionally it is possible to have a trade career early in life and switch to a STEM career as one ages.

Note: Some Colleges/Universities provide degrees in a hands-on manner in alignment with the needs of corporations and the job market. This allows for a tech degree, that may offer the attributes of both a trade and a STEM position.

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