In the book, Blue Collar & Proud of It (Lamacchia & Samburg, 2009), an excellent argument in support of blue collar, non-degreed employment is given in the introduction, written by Joe Lamacchia, where he says:
“For years I’ve been watching as my kids and other youngsters are told by their teachers and their guidance counselors that if they don’t go to college, they won’t succeed. I didn’t go to college, even though my family expected me to go. Frankly, I wouldn’t have made it to graduation, and I know I would have hated it. I respect college and the people who go, but for some reason, our society has a hard time accepting that college simply isn’t for everyone. I love learning and I haven’t stopped learning, but college isn’t the only way to learn.“
He continues by stating that kids who are pushed into college and don’t flourish there start feeling bad or worse about themselves. It simply is not a fit for everyone. His goal of the book is to help young people see the alternatives to a college education and feel pride about going into a trade. After all, blue collar workers are the backbone of America, Lamacchia claims.
In Chapter 1, a very convincing argument backed by research and statistics is given that success can occur outside of the cubicle. In fact, blue collar jobs can be very high-tech and can require very specific training that relies upon science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—leading to well-paying, fulfilling jobs.
The next 10 chapters define “blue collar,” discuss options, and argue that this is women’s work too. They are full of personal stories; concrete suggestions and resources such as technical schools, vocational programs, and organizations that promote and support blue-collar workers; an entire chapter dedicated to questions that students may ask who are choosing a non-college track along with great answers; and a complete guide to schools, apprenticeships, and postsecondary trainings across the country.
This book is a must-read for all teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and young people who feel uncomfortable about a college degree for financial and/or personal reasons. It assures them that choosing blue collar careers does not preclude them from a great salary, exciting work (even in STEM fields), and a profession that commands respect.
Lamacchia, J., & Samburg, B. (2009). Blue
Collar & Proud of It: The All-in-One Resource for Finding Freedom,
Financial Success, and Security Outside the Cubicle. Deerfield Beach, FL:
Health Communications, Inc.
Appendix A: Online Resources for STEM Jobs Without College Degrees
- Take the STEM Type Quiz here and also see my personal results in Appendix B
- STEM Jobs for People Without a Degree, Study.Com website
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers||$55,920||-4% (decline)|
|Veterinary Assistants, Laboratory Animal Caretakers||$25,250||9%|
|Computer Support Specialists||$52,160||12%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Eight High-Paying STEM Jobs that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree, STEM Jobs website
- Explore Top STEM Careers, U.S. News & World Report
- Get a STEM Job with Less Than a 4-Year Degree, U.S. Department of Labor Blog
- Study: Half of STEM Jobs Don’t Require Bachelor’s Degree, U.S. News & World Report, 2013
- Ross Medical Education Center (available in Johnson City, TN, and other places around the country)
Appendix B: My STEM Type
These are my top three Candidate types:
Explorer (93.3% match):
Explorers have deep knowledge of their area of specialty, and are skilled in performing scientific research to expand their knowledge and communicate their findings to others.
Explorers often work in educational settings as teachers and professors, as well as in the public and private organizations where they may work in lab/office settings.
Maker (85% match):
Makers’ jobs often go well beyond performing their crafts. Makers often must coordinate complex work projects, build and manage effective teams of workers, and train new workers to do their jobs efficiently and safely. Makers can be found in industrial, residential, or business settings.
Integrator (75% match):
Integrators succeed through others, so communication and building working relationships are as important as their business skills.
Integrators work in all types of environments and may be found anywhere from small businesses to large corporations.
Lamacchia, J., & Samburg, B. (2009). Blue Collar & Proud of It: The All-in-One Resource for Finding Freedom, Financial Success, and Security Outside the Cubicle. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.