In celebration of National Tile Day, we’ve explored tile industry careers by sharing video messages from three professionals who speak about successful careers in the tile industry, plus we offer these weighty facts on the benefits of trade skills versus a college degree.
As Forbes reports, the cost of a university education has increased nearly eight times faster than wages in the last few decades while at the same time, student loan debt is so high, that data from the Federal Reserve shows one in every five graduates with debt were behind in their student loan payments. In 2017, monthly student loan payments averaged between $200-$300.
A Win/Win Situation
Scott Carothers, who heads certification and training for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), tells us more about how a tile apprenticeship program combats this issue:
“We’ve done studies where we have seen a five-year comparison where a student coming out of high school can enter the tile trade as an apprentice and in five years, be making over those five years, about $255,000. A student that does a five-year program in a college-level institution comes out of the school with probably in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $175,000 in debt, and no job. And many times, we’re finding that people can’t find a job in their industry, so they are challenged to even stay in the industry where they’re trained. Conversely, the ceramic tile installer going through that apprenticeship program has a job, and has had a job the entire five years, and continues to work. So, it’s really a win/win situation.”
Perhaps, this news is catching on. The National Student Clearinghouse continues to report college enrollment decreasing year after year. Carothers would like to see more students encouraged to consider a trade career. “There are people out there today that do like to work with their hands, and we would like to encourage them to follow a path of an apprenticeship program with a good quality contractor, along with a training program.”
The Demand for Qualified Labor
Mike Corona of Corona Marble and Tile in Woodbine, Maryland saw his greatest opportunity in the tile industry after a college education.
“I’m a second generation tile installer. My father started Corona Marble and Tile,” explains Mike Corona. “The reason I got into the trade was that I saw an opportunity that there was a need for skilled labor. So, what I found as a business owner and tile installer for 15-18 years, is that the need for qualified labor is as important as it has ever been.”
Corona speaks to young people that are facing career choices such as he did and gives this advice:
- Be optimistic, know that there are definitely opportunities in the tile industry.
- You won’t become a tile installer or business owner overnight.
- You need a willingness to learn, enthusiasm, drive, motivation, reliability, respectfulness, and the ability to communicate.
- You are willing to learn and be taught.
Corona continues with a positive message that if those character traits are something you exhibit, or something you can improve on, “as long as you are learning, and you’re qualifying yourself to meet an expectation and exceed that expectation, you will have endless opportunities.”
According to an analysis by Abrigo, six of the top 10 fastest-growing U.S. industries in 2019 were part of the construction industry – which employs skilled trade workers extensively.
A comparison of top-paying trades jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and top-paying college majors from Glassdoor shows that trades careers often come out on top, earning more during the first five years. It depends highly on which college major you are comparing to which trade and the lifestyle you are seeking (i.e. flexible work schedule, being your own boss, etc.).
HouseProCall.com put together some pros and cons comparing college and trade school career paths. While the paths are complicated to compare one-to-one because of the differences in college tuition rates and the variation in starting wages for different trades, the data stacks up to an interesting comparison. This data was compiled by:
- Analyzing the average complete costs (tuition, housing, books, expenses) of a private for-profit trade school and public, in-state college
- Using the average expected starting salary for all college degrees and all trades
- Incorporating a 3% annual wage increase over the course of a job for both career paths
- Providing a return of 10% for invested savings
- Calculating that both paths would save at 2019’s national personal savings rate (7.9%) during their careers and all savings would go toward paying their debt
HousePro.com’s data poster shows a complete picture from cost of education and training to potential retirement savings.
Download HousePro.com’s full data poster to share!
Professionals such as James Robinson are also working to share career information about the trades with a new generation. Robinson notes that educators are especially valuable for introducing trade opportunities to youth and their parents. In an article by Remodeling Magazine, Robinson says, “If you’re not exposed to what you can do, or what’s in front of you, that’s a lot of untapped potential.” Robinson’s program ConstructReach is helping to bridge the gap between high school students and training for a trades career by providing networking and internship opportunities. Students meet and train with professionals in the construction industry so that they can explore what interests them and learn from mentors.
Additionally, a number of Certified Tile Installers have developed notable internship programs for on-the-job-training geared toward helping people understand the opportunities of a tile industry profession.
James Woelfel, when accepting the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) 2019 Ring of Honor, addressed how much he valued his choice of a career in the tile industry:
“And I would encourage the younger people of today — if you want to be in a profession that requires thinking, math skills, communication skills, English skills, problem-solving skills, and no college debt, you need to get into the tile contracting or installation business. It is a noble profession and done correctly, you will leave a legacy on this Earth well past when your time is done.”
For more information on careers in the tile industry, tile installation, and training, visit our Qualified Labor and Careers in the Tile Industry pages and then explore these resources:
Ceramic Tile Education Foundation
National Tile Contractors Association
Ceramic Tile Distributors Association
Tile Contractors’ Association of America
International Masonry Institute