Getting Silly

It’s very much in fashion today to bash colleges and universities. Headline after headline totes how bad a decision it is to get a college degree. The latest is now being reported as coming from the billionaire mayor of New York City.

Buzz Today Source: Fox News. Pipe dream: “Skip college, become a plumber, NYC Mayor Bloomberg says” reads the headline. “Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College — being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal,” he reportedly said. “You don’t spend … four years spending $40,000, $50,000 in tuition without earning income,” said the Mayor

The US Department of Labor estimates on their O*NET WEB site that plumbing is a profession with growing demand and what they call a bright outlook growing over 20% per year through 2020. The average salary for plumbers is $49,140 per year.

These are attractive prospects, relative to some other career options, but there are two problems here. The first problem is that if everyone were to take the Mayor’s advice and become a plumber instead of going to college there would be millions of plumbers. Furthermore, those persons actually with a plumbing job would be making next to nothing. Why would those working plumbers be making so little? Because supply and demand determines wages. With the demand for plumbers set by the market forces described, the Mayor’s recommendation would result in an explosion in the supply of plumbers, thus driving down the wages paid.

It’s true that the plumbing profession has a bright outlook with projected significant growth. The problem is, that even with all of that growth, the estimated number of plumbing openings is 228,800 between now and 2020. The simple fact is that if the millions of college students that will enroll between now and 2020 actually became plumbers instead, there would be lots of unemployed plumbers.

The other problem with the advice, is that you simply may not enjoy what plumbers do. Here O*NET is again helpful. What the WEB site tells us is that a day in the life of a plumber is filled with activities such as:

  • Measure, cut, thread, or bend pipe to required angle, using hand or power tools or machines such as pipe cutters, pipe-threading machines, or pipe-bending machines.
  • Locate and mark the position of pipe installations, connections, passage holes, or fixtures in structures, using measuring instruments such as rulers or levels.
  • Assemble pipe sections, tubing, or fittings, using couplings, clamps, screws, bolts, cement, plastic solvent, caulking, or soldering, brazing, or welding equipment.
  • Install pipe assemblies, fittings, valves, appliances such as dishwashers or water heaters, or fixtures such as sinks or toilets, using hand or power tools.

Remember, your future is about what you will be doing every working day of your life. If these plumbing activities are not what you want to be doing everyday in your future than the Mayor’s advice is not for you. It just does not match who you are.

The point is, that the sweeping generalizations even thoughtful people are making about your future is not very helpful for the decisions you have to make. After all, it is your future, not that of the billionaire Mayor we are talking about here. You need a clear road map to a future that matches who you are. Go to Your Future is Calling for the best advice I can give you.

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