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Be Your Own Boss by the Age of 24

Be Your Own Boss by the Age of 24

There are always going to be people in this world who will do things like invent Facebook or build the first drone. If that’s you, chances are you’re already well on your way to being your own boss.

For the rest of us, there are four options:

  1. Going straight into the workforce and working your way up the ladder (and most office jobs are predicted to disappear over the next 20 years, due to automation);
  2. Doing a degree at uni, then likely rinse and repeat option 1;
  3. Learning a skilled trade and running your own show; or
  4. Start an organised crime family.

Okay, so we were kidding with number 4…

If you choose option 3, then congratulations! Apprenticeships pretty much give you an $18,000 head start in your career as a self-made boss[1]. Why? It’s all about supply and demand. There’s a massive gap between demand for certain skills, and people who have those skills.

This gap is so large that Skilling Australia Foundation predicts trades will account for nine out of 10 occupations with the greatest growth in the next five years.

It almost doesn't matter what industry you consider… however, the current construction boom is probably your safest place to start. Acquiring the right skills that are in demand will secure not only stable employment, but also let you dictate your asking rate once you’ve skilled up. Shotcreters, (that's right, people who shoot cement!) are making $200,000 a year because there are so few of them.

Here are 10 reasons to learn a trade.

1. Get paid and avoid degree debt

You ‘earn while you learn’. Sure, apprentices get paid a nominal wage at first, but how many other professions pay you to study? Plus you are paid super, which will give you a head start on the savings ladder. There’s also the money you save on uni fees, which can range from $18,000 to $59,000, depending on your choice of course. Whereas the fees for your apprenticeship are paid by your employer. Finally, vocational education graduates have a slightly higher median salary ($56,000) in comparison with bachelor degree graduates ($54,000). So, you end up with a qualification PLUS zero debt PLUS a higher starting salary. Bonus!

2. Build skills at your own pace

Imagine calling Liam Neeson for career advice: “What you need are skills… skills that make you invaluable for an employer. Skills that you manage to acquire over a long career.” Okay, so this isn’t a remake of Taken, but if you’re someone who remembers every quote of your favourite movies, but can’t necessarily focus on a textbook theory, a hands-on learning environment, like an apprenticeship, could suit you down to the ground. Recent changes at TAFE allow you to finish your training once you have been marked “competent” at each skill you learn.

3. “You will respect my authoritah!”

We’re not suggesting you model yourself on Eric Cartman, but if you value your independence and want to be the boss someday then apprenticeships can fast-track you. As a third year qualified tradie who is between 21 and 24 years old you can set yourself up in business, with all the benefits (and risks) that brings. Sure, you can fire that ‘PITA’ client, but you’ll still be responsible for getting business through the door!

4.  Guarantee your employability

Learning a skill is never a waste of time - your skills will be in demand in a future where most jobs will be automated (yes, even office jobs). You are also highly likely to get a job in the first place - almost four out of every five graduates will be employed after graduation.

5.  What comes first, the job or the experience?

Many uni graduates talk about the frustration of being knocked back interview after interview in their chosen profession. The reason is usually “no experience.” It’s a “Catch 22” situation that apprenticeship graduates are able to avoid. This is the one avenue that lets you get experience while you’re learning the technical side of the job.

6. Freedom from the ‘nine-to-five’ experience

Most tradies will tell you they rise early, but go home by 2 or 3pm at the latest. When you work for yourself, you can also choose your hours, days or whether you take on a certain job at all. The more skilled you are, the more you can set your own agenda. In other words, you can be the boss!

7. Move out of your Mum and Dad’s earlier

Does it seem that with all the doom and gloom about the economy that your dream of moving out of Mum and Dad’s place and getting some independence is fading rapidly? Learning skills while not building debt is the key to achieving this goal faster.

8. Escape the rat race of major cities

Do you live outside a major city or town, or don’t fancy living in a capital city any more? Apprenticeships offer a great way of securing a job and staying in the area you grew up in. Most rural employers struggle to find employees, and skilled labour is an even rarer commodity in those areas.

9. Training is flexible

You don’t need to sit in a lecture theatre most days a week - apprenticeships and traineeships are designed to be flexible and work around your hours at work. They can be full time, part time or school-based.

10. Variety… It’s not just spice, it’s life!

Learning a trade will offer you an amazingly varied experience. You can be on a client site one day, then in a workshop, then at a desk learning about a new trick to your trade. Training takes place anywhere – on the job, in a ute, in a kitchen, under a car or out in the great outdoors.

Open your eyes, and you might be surprised to find independence, flexibility, financial security and other great things within your grasp. What’s stopping you?


$18,000 is the current base cost in terms for a basic degree in Architecture, Nursing Arts or Creative Arts. Source: What will my degree cost.