Applicants needed for skilled trades that pay top dollar

Jim Cunningham
October 18, 2017 - 6:28 am

Advocates of skilled tradespeople are asking high school students which they would prefer; making $68,000 a year working in a construction trade or earning $32,000 a year while paying off student loans? 

For decades students have been steered toward college, leaving some with low-earning degrees and mountains of debt.

Meanwhile developers continue to have difficulty in finding enough skilled plumbers, carpenters, electricians and welders.

There are plenty of opportunities for motivated tradespeople in the metro area, said Greg Lever, executive director of the National Institute for Construction Excellence in Kansas City.

"They start making money and getting full benefits day one, zero hours of experience," Lever said.

Skilled trades can be transferrable. Trade appreticeship programs typically run about four years.

"Each year as you continue to grow in your skill and pass some tests that are important you get increases," Lever said. "You start around 16 dollars -- you come out four years later as a journeyman making, on the average, 33, 34 dollars an hour."

When benefits are added in, some people who have completed apprenticeships in high-demand trades can earn more than $50 an hour. 

There is an extreme need now for people who know about concrete work and carpentry, Lever said.

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