Trade school / Apprencticeship in Mid-30s?

5 Replies

I’m currently in a transition period in my career where I am looking for a new opportunity that will generate higher income. I’m also in the process of doing some soul searching and creating some concrete, long term goals that will allow me to achieve financial freedom by age 50.

I’m worked corporate 9-5 jobs that have paid well but I’ve hated all of them. I’ve jumped around in my career doing all kinds of random jobs, chasing new opportunities that felt exciting at the time only to find out the work wasn’t fulfilling and I felt out of place.

As I think about my long term goals, I want to incorporate and consider my next career move, so that it compliments and supports my goals (pertaining to real estate and financial freedom) and helps me achieve them.

Will that said, based on the fact that I don’t want to go back to a corporate W2 9-5 job, I am considering an apprenticeship or trade school in carpentry, plumbing or the like. Is this a bad idea? Am I too old to do this? I have no experience. For anyone who has graduated from a trade school or completed an apprenticeship, would you recommend?

My goal would be to make at least $60K once finished so that I can 1) save 20-30% of income, 2) obtain loans and 3) use the new skills to help with repairs /rehab.

@Daniel Whitmore

Hey Daniel I'll take a crack at this.  I think it's great for folks to introspect and sometimes re-evaluate.

To make a major transition in life I think it takes some purposeful reflection.  I'd be really wanting to know more about what you did in those 9-5 jobs that you both hated, but what did you get some fulfillment out of?  There may be some transferable skills and things you can take where you aren't completely starting from scratch in going the trades school route.

I think other considerations would be where you are in life financially, educationally, and from a professional development perspective.  All these factors would influence my thinking/decisions in this regard.

In my case, I'm an engineer who worked the corporate 9-5 for a while and I got good experience that translated into a transition into RE. The real estate has been good to us, and to give you an idea, I'm going to be applying for a continuing education course in refrigeration so I definitely see value in that - however in my case I see specific value to use the knowledge that I'll gain for my (and my family's) own purposes, given that we already have a rental portfolio and some AC needs in the docket.

I think there's a challenge in finding meaningful career opportunities within the trades for many, many people - as the training and cultural environments within most 'service businesses' such as an HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc can be desolate and make certain folks turn to the 'dark side' of business.  Within general labor/trades and carpentry, I would caution in going the union route which seems to be one of the more mainstream career trajectories after getting an AS say in a certain trade.  I won't go into my perspective of why this is the case unless you want to hear.

The main takeaway here is that only you can understand and decide if you are wanting to truly be an entrepreneur and a 'sole proprietor'.  My perspective is that if you have the skill and ambition to operate this way then for many folks, this is not a bad path at all.  For those who trust the more mainstream career paths offered in industry to take them to a good place, I'd caution that it doesn't often work out that way for many.

Hopefully you find this helpful, Daniel!

Go for the licensed trades , plumbing ,HVAC , or electrical . Stick with it and get your masters license and you will be in 6 figures within 6 years 

@Daniel Whitmore

Besides Jim's great advice, I would also recommend you possess a certain mechanical aptitude and interest before making a career change into trades. Right now anybody with a clean drug test and a valid driver's license finds employment, but that won't last forever. With respect to age, I don't think mid 30s is too old at all.

@Andreas W.

Thanks for your feedback, Andreas. Glad to hear you don’t think I’m too old for such a transition! I think your point about mechanical aptitude is fair. Sadly I have no experience or aptitude. I will rethink this option and consider other opportunities that fit my skill set.

@Jim Goebel

Thank you for the insights, Jim. I really appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns and share your experiences. I think your points are valid. I probably don’t need to start from scratch (again). It would be wise for me to build on my past work experience and existing skill set. I’m sure there is a corporate job out there I could tolerate, I just have to do my homework and put in the work to find it. I appreciate you highlighting the challenges and pitfalls of working in the trades. There is a high probability I’m not well suited for such a role. To make another career misstep would be another year or two wasted and the older I get the less time I have to figure it out. I have a bachelors degree in business mgmt and a decent amount of money saved up, so I will take the time to explore other options and find the right opportunity.