What About Attending a Trade School Instead of College?

H/T AmmoLand.

College for many people including myself we are not college material,

So a trade school would be a good option.

Gun Cleaning iStock-495328866
The author argues young people should consider a trade over college, like gunsmithing. IMG iStock-495328866

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- This article is geared towards helping kids that have recently graduated from high school/college or kids that have yet to find a career. I don‘t want to sound like some cynical, bitter old man but I’m glad that I’m not a kid recently graduated from high school or college and trying to land a job and take out on a career path. There are a lot of dysfunctional companies out there right now. They have no loyalty to their employees. You can be a hero one day and a zero the next and get fired. But regardless of the doom and gloom picture I’m painting here, I still say that certain principles hold true and have stood the test of time.

Here are a couple of words of advice to begin:

  1. Be a hard worker. I don’t care how smart you are, if you don’t have a good work ethic ultimately, you’re no good to an employer.
  2. Be loyal to your boss. Don’t undermine him/her. Be a company man.
  3. Learn a valuable skill or better yet, multiple skills. Workers with skills are always in demand.
  4. Above all else value keeping a good name for yourself. It doesn’t scare me at all to get fired. But it petrifies me to ever get a bad name. In the past, I believed only losers got fired – but nowadays firings are like random drive-by shootings. They can hit anyone. But if you’ve got a good name for yourself you can readily land another job.
  5. In your interview don’t start out about the pay. Interview such that at the end of the interview that they think that they can’t live without you and money will be no object to them.
  6. On the opposite side of the coin. Don’t start out getting paid too low or you’ll never catch up if they only give 4-6% raises every yr.
  7. My dad always said given the choice of working for a really smart man or getting a higher paying job he’d choose working for the smart man. No one can take your knowledge from you.
  8. Memorize Proverbs. There is a lot of wisdom on business in the pages of that book.
  9. I am so glad I did #4 and hit it hard as a young man. 40 yrs. later I am still landing good-paying jobs/consulting deals because of making a good name for myself back then and the acquaintances that I made.

Now let’s move into some real-life scenarios as to how you can find a career. At the 2020 SHOT Show, Ron Spomer introduced me to Robert Thacker and Jamey Wojtaszek. Robert owns the Pennsylvania Gunsmithing School and Jayme works there. PGS is doing fine but they’re concerned about the dropping numbers of students across the country in the majority of the gunsmithing schools.

Pennsylvania Gunsmithing School

Due to this concern, they’re encouraging young people to choose gunsmithing as a career. I hear similar concerns among the gun experts that the numbers of hunters/shooters are dropping and the current ones are an aging group.

So as not to start off as a Negative Nancy, here’s some encouraging news. I attended a seminar at the SHOT Show put on by Safe Shoot, which is an Israeli company. One of the speakers said that actually, shooting is the #2 sport in America, even ahead of golf. That surprised me.

If that is the case, then it’s alarming that the number of kids going to gunsmithing schools is dropping because there will obviously be a need for more, not fewer gunsmiths in the not too distant future.

That said, I’m about to state something that up until the last few years I was on the opposite side of the aisle. In the past, I encouraged kids if at all possible to go to college. If they couldn’t afford that then at least work and attend a Junior College and get an associate’s degree. I no longer hold that stance. Let me explain.

Higher learning institutions have lost their compass. Their goal is no longer to teach kids to graduate work-ready. They now have too many hidden social changing agendas. Kids go off to college conservatives and return as socialists. The colleges spend way too much time teaching/pushing these agendas. Many kids no longer graduate with useful skills.

I used to hire a lot of college kids when I was the Director of Quality Control for Con Agra. I had five large beef plants and a cooked plant under me so I had a large QC staff and hired a lot of college kids. Even back then the colleges thought that they knew more what the kids needed to be taught than the industry did. I only had one Professor inquire what skills their graduates were lacking in. Is that not bizarre? Would any business survive if it didn’t do customer service audits? Investigate open markets?

Due to my ignorance, I thought trade schools were for kids like in my high school that would have dropped out but due to shop classes they hung in and graduated (This was all nearly 50 yrs. ago).

Then…. 15 yrs. ago I started learning what some of the skilled workers were making. Such as linemen, electricians, dental assistants, etc. It costs an arm and a leg to hire a good maintenance man-if you can even find one. So now, if a kid can’t afford college, I recommend they go to a reputable trade school. They may graduate right off the bat $200,00.00 ahead of the normal college graduate because of no student loans and have an extra 2 ½ years of wages already in the bank by the time their college buddies graduate.

So, let’s play this out. A kid works for an established gunsmith after attending PGS and learns the ropes. After 4-5 years they could then open their own shop while their college graduate counterpart is still in some menial job barely getting by with no hope in sight and a huge student loan hanging over their head.

So what I’m saying is, if a kid is a hustler but for whatever reason doesn’t have the option of going to college, I don’t see him/her as being handicapped. There are a million options. If you don’t want to be a gunsmith go to beauty school. Same scenario. Work for someone else, learn the ropes at their expense, and then in a few years open your own shop. When you have a few employees then you are making money off of them as well as your own labors.

Before you think I’m nuts, think about it for a minute. A high percentage of kids go to a 4-yr. school and graduate with a degree that is not in demand and comes out with huge debts. On the other hand, a kid could go to somewhere like the PGS and graduate in 16 months. With a part-time job, they may be lucky enough to graduate with no/low debt.

It takes four semesters (2496 hrs.) to graduate. Students of any skill level can expect to complete the program. Every student starts at the same spot and being a course hour program, they typically finish at the same time. PGS has graduates in all 50 states and 18 countries. I’ve never been to the school but here’s what I’d loosely suggest if you attend the PGS school or any trade school. Get a part-time job so you’re not racking up loans. After you graduate, get a job with a reputable gunsmith that you can learn from. Work for him a few yrs. and learn the ropes instead of opening your own business right off and making costly mistakes at your expense. Then in a few yrs. when you’re comfortable open your own shop.

I stand to gain nothing if you go to the Pennsylvania Gunsmithing School or not. If gunsmithing isn’t your cup of tea then find what you like to do and be the best you can at it. The moral to the story is-don’t feel like a second-class citizen if you can’t afford or have no desire to go to college. Be a hustler and sharpen your skills and you may actually end up better off. Good luck.