Over my work years, I would say that most of my jobs could be classified as white-collar or some grey collar. I did a few blue collar jobs while I was working my way through college and during my high school days.
Those early “blue collar” jobs involved farming, harvesting hay, working in a paper mill and a few other things like that. Definitely not white collar. But, in my adult life, I can’t think of a single job that I have held that would be clearly classified as blue collar.
I have never been anti-blue collar at all. I have had friends and relatives who have worked blue collar jobs. For me, I am more comfortable in the white-collar environment, though.
As my kids started growing up, I never even considered that they would consider doing blue collar work. No, I thought for sure that they would do things like computer work, office work or that kind of thing. Not only did I not think they would go blue collar, but I also did not even consider it, it was something that never crossed my mind.
In 2015, my son, Aaron, went to the United States. I had encouraged him to work there so he could learn what it meant to be employed and earn his own money. Unfortunately, he had trouble finding a job. He had no job experience and had just moved from a foreign country to the USA, although he was and is a US Citizen. It was basically a new culture to him, though, as he had lived in the Philippines since he was 3 years of age.
Well, he was unable to find work. When he got back to the Philippines in October 2015, we got talking about what type of work he was interested in doing. Previously, he had no idea what he wanted to do for a living, so I wanted to query his mind to see if any thoughts were developing in there.
What he told me stunned me. He told me that he thought he was interested in welding. Uh… what? Welding? I certainly did not expect that. As I said, the idea of my kids doing blue collar work had not even crossed my mind.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, well… maybe not a bit. I was disappointed. My father was a white-collar worker. My grandfather was also a white-collar worker. I could not believe that my son had other thoughts.
For a few days, I was depressed about it, but he seemed certain in his mind that welding was his calling.
I looked into it after a few days. I could not imagine that there would be much work available, and I also did not think he would be able to make much money.
What I learned
As I looked into welding jobs and salaries, I was again shocked! I learned, mostly by reading articles by Mike Rowe, that for blue collar, or “trade” jobs, there were a lot of work available and not many people willing to do it! These days everybody goes to college and something like welding is far from their minds.
I learned that the salaries of experienced welders in the right industries were far beyond what I expected. With the right job, there are plenty of welders earning in the 6 figures! Unbelievable.
That was almost 2 years ago. To be honest, my mind has changed. I am not against people going to college, but I also don’t think it is really necessary in many cases. I mean if you feel you have a passion for welding, car repair, HVAC work, plumbing and such you can probably save $100,000 in saved college expenses, and 4 to 6 years of your life by following your passion!
I am used to the idea now of my kids going into trade work. If that is what they want, there is no problem. You have to do what you want or you will never be happy. Then again, if any of my kids want to be doctors or lawyers, I am fine with that too. No job is superior to the other, what you like doing and enjoy is what is important.
What is Aaron doing now?
Well, Aaron just recently got his first “real job”. He has worked for me in the past, but now he got a job where he is outside the family business and doing real work. He is in Alaska right now, working for a company named Red Salmon Cannery. He works in fish processing. He works, usually, 16 hour days and he is making some really nice money, even though the season is a short one, probably less than 2 months.
He is well-liked by his boss, and he has kind of become the “go to” guy for special jobs because they like him. I am proud of that, and I am proud of him. He is doing good work, honest work, and well-paying work for a kid his age (20 years old). He already has plans to go back to Alaska next year for sure. He may even go back for work more this year as other fishing seasons open up and jobs become available.
I mentioned Mike Rowe, and I can tell you.. fish processing is most certainly a “Dirty Job”.
As for me… I wonder if a 55-year-old can go for welding training? LOL