There is no doubt that there are several stereotypes surrounding the skilled trades. This week we asked our students to discuss what stereotypes they are faced with on a daily basis, and how they are working to set the record straight.
Michael: “Plumbers are not educated.”
A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person is how the dictionary defines Stigma. False stereotypes are prominent within the trades. One of the first misconceptions I recall people verbalizing when they learn I have decided to become a plumber is, “plumbers are not educated.” This could not be further from the truth. In fact, plumbers are required to master many skill sets beyond how to use a wrench.
A few that come to mind are mathematics, physical science and the ability to decipher complex technical drawings. In the state of Rhode Island, the following is required to achieve Master Plumber: 576 hours of classroom education that is mostly focused on international and state plumbing code, mathematics, and physical science; 8000 hours of on-the-job training as an Apprentice Plumber; passing a written exam to achieve Journeyman Plumber and a second written exam to achieve a Master Plumber license.
This typically takes a period of five years to complete. In my case, I have also completed a 4-year Bachelor’s degree and many graduate-level business courses.
In reality, successful Master Plumbers are educated and well-rounded. They are skilled not only in the technical aspects of plumbing but the critical components of business including customer service; human resources; accounts payables/receivables; inventory management; marketing and safety.
I have shared an example of how a plumber may properly calculate the minimum size of a Thermal Expansion Tank- something most people don’t even know they own. The bottom line is that the density of water decreases as it is heated. This causes expansion, as water is heated it must be managed safely. One of the jobs of a licensed plumber is to ensure this is achieved. Take a look!
Riley: ” Are you going to a four- year college?”
When I tell people about career/college degrees I have chosen they usually say, “Wow, that was a very good decision. You will always have a job!” It is very true because when choosing a trade career/program you are almost always going to have job security since trade careers are always in need of people.
There is another reaction I tend to get often from people that have gone 4+ years for higher education, and spent thousands upon thousands of dollars for a pointless degree. They tend to say, “So after you get done with your program at the community college, are you going to a four-year college?” I respond, “No, I have a full-time job already lined up as soon as a get out of community college, with no college debt!”
I’m not trying to say that going to a 4-year college is pointless. I just feel like people that go to a trade school are definitely looked down upon by those types of people.