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40 Navy | Summer 2018 MILITARY TRANSITIONS P lumbers, electricians, carpenters — at some point, everyone needs them. But, when it comes to choosing a career, these occupations are rarely considered. Parents and students think of them as a consolation prize instead of as a primary option. College is viewed as the only way forward regardless of the financial havoc it can cause families. Loans for higher education now total about $1.5 trillion, second only to mortgages. It is a national crisis. One of the key issues surrounding the college-versus- vocational training discussion is that everyone takes a side. But there is no right or wrong answer. It comes down to what is best for the individual. Going to college can be a great experience, and can lead to an exciting career with a nice paycheck. But this is not guaranteed. Many families and students make the assumption that the college journey is the only path to career success and happiness. However, many students come out of college without a job and with 10 to 20 years of college loan repayments. Not the outcome that they expected. College is not for everyone, although sometimes it seems that way. It's college or bust for most families. Manufacturing, construction and other trade skills are options that few students and parents research. An aspect of vocational careers that oen is missed is that additional education can still be pursued. Business or other classes can be taken online or part time for free or at a significantly reduced cost when compared with a traditional degree at a four-year institution. Vocational training, followed by an apprenticeship or work, leads to developing skills that are in high demand in the global marketplace. is can be done without taking on large amounts of debt, while earning a salary over the years that would normally be spent in school. Trade workers can make a very good living with an excel- lent return on investment, when compared with paying for a college education. Many small business owners started out as skilled workers. I am still a proponent of higher education and I work with students and families to help make their dreams a reality. It is a good option. But it is only one option. Fami- lies should review all aspects of the college decision, including the possibilities and economic realities of significant debt, changed majors, failure to graduate and delayed retire- ment for parents. Only aer careful consideration and understanding of the pitfalls should the decision to attend college be made. When a water pipe breaks, I call my local plumber. He or she has the expertise I need and I am willing to pay for it. We can use more of these types of skills in our work- force, and it starts with changing the dialogue regarding the importance of promoting vocational training with our high school students. Lots of jobs are available in these areas. Let's fill the need. CAPT Scott Gibney, USN (Ret.), is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, an AUSN member and a 30-year U.S. Navy veteran. He and his wife, Susan, own a consulting company focused on college planning, career development and financial coaching. He can be reached at Career Considerations Vocational Occupations Can Be College Alternative By CAPT Scott Gibney, USN (Ret.) Vocational training, followed by an apprenticeship or work, leads to developing skills that are in high demand in the global marketplace. PIXABAY

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