Degrees are often considered necessary for today’s job market. Or are they? For generations, we’ve been taught that you cannot be successful unless you have a degree. This is why there is tremendous pressure for parents to get their children into universities. Parents and students would even go into debt to pay for a chance of earning a degree.

Degree JobsearchWhile a college degree can open some doors, they are not the touted true path to success. After earning their degree, graduates often find that they are in debt and facing stiff competition in the job market. Degree holders may even find themselves working in a career unrelated to their degree or in contractual roles instead of full-time employment.

Despite what has been accepted as common knowledge, non-degree holders can be successful. One path to success that is starting to gain favor is going into trades. Trades jobs are becoming popular as they can be satisfying, stable, and lucrative – especially if you have nationally recognized qualification. Additionally, acquiring such a qualification does not require the same investment of time and money as that of attaining a higher-education degree.


Changing Attitudes about Vocational Training

Vocational training has been considered a poor substitute for university. However, this outlook has been changing as the need for skilled tradesmen has been increasing. A greater percentage of those who have completed Vocational Education and Training (VET) have found employment compared to those who have completed degrees.

The starting salaries for trades are generally lower than the starting salary for jobs that require a college degree. But depending on the industry and experience, a skilled tradesman with a nationally recognized qualification can command high wages that is normally associated with college degree holders.
Another advantage of going into a trade is that education at a trade school costs less than a college degree and can be completed in less time. Tradesmen can start earning earlier and pay off any debt incurred during education much faster – which offsets the lower starting salary.


Recognition of Prior Learning

Earning a nationally recognized qualification is not only possible by going through lessons in a trade school. Existing skills and experience can be applied to obtain a nationally recognized qualification, which can be done through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). This is convenient for anyone who is currently engaged in a trade. RPL allows students to gain recognition without having to go through classroom training for something that they already know – cutting down the time and money they need to gain their qualification.

As an example, an air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic would like to get employment in another company. However, the mechanic does not have a nationally recognised qualification – something that can affect their chances of getting the job. The mechanic can have a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) assess their current skills and determine which competencies the mechanic already has. The mechanic therefore will only need to take the lessons for the competencies that they currently lack.


Whether the trade is in automotive, engineering or other fields, a nationally recognized qualification can set you up for success. It increases your employability as it meets industry and regulatory requirements. Employers are more confident with hiring you or giving you a well-earned promotion. Success is not reliant on just having a college degree. Exploring alternative paths to the one that is widely recommended can also lead to the same outcome.