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The YBA Workforce NOW website is one of York County’s primary resources for information about careers in the construction trades. Students, parents, educators & employers can find useful posts and the latest news on our blog.

You Don’t Need a Degree to be Successful. Here are 7 Careers that Prove it.

Feb 23, 2022 | News

Student debt rates are higher than ever, with fewer college graduates finding satisfying and long-term careers in return. Did you know that student loan debt in the U.S. totals $1.75 trillion?

If you are open to pursuing a career in the skilled trades, a degree won’t likely be necessary. Here are 7 professions that prove you don’t need a college degree (and all the debt that comes with it) to build a high-paying and fulfilling career.


According to a new study from Porch Research, the electrician is the best overall home improvement contractor job in 2022 – based on pay, job growth, and ease of entering the occupation.

Working as an electrician does require some special training and plenty of safety precautions. From wiring basic lights to managing circuit breaker panels and electric loads, electricians are highly skilled in their niche. Though there are certifications and licensing tests that vary from state to state, most of your electrician training can be accomplished through an apprenticeship.

According to the Porch Research study, the average annual salary for experienced electricians ranges from $56,900 – $98,720.


Do you have a knack for working with tools, building furniture, and installing materials? If so, you may want to consider a career as a carpenter.

Working as a carpenter does not require a degree or higher education, though it typically requires a thorough knowledge of basic tools, building methods, and safety precautions. There are also opportunities to learn on-the-job or complete apprenticeships in carpentry.

Carpentry is one of the most popular skilled trade careers in the construction industry – with currently over 699,300 carpenters in the United States. Carpenters play key roles in residential building and remodeling projects.

The salary range for a carpenter spans from $49,520 – $87,410 based on location, experience, and/or individual clients.


Plumbing is not the most glamorous of careers in the skilled trades, but it is very necessary. From installing toilets and sinks to managing clogs, fixtures, and underground piping, plumbers are well-versed in the arena of ceramics and sanitation.

Pipefitters are familiar with a wide range of piping and plumbing systems that include pipe transportation and management. Pipefitters also know how to work with various materials such as gasses and potentially hazardous chemicals.

Steamfitters are professional pipefitters that focus on installing and maintaining specialized pipes and systems for high-pressure materials – often in industrial settings.

Armed with an apprenticeship, some on-the-job training, and in some cases a postsecondary award – like a certificate or diploma of less than 1 academic year, professional plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters can earn a salary that ranges from $56,330-$98,990.


Heating, ventilation, air conditioning technicians, and installers spend their days installing, maintaining, and repairing a variety of indoor climate control systems in both residential and commercial or industrial settings. HVAC professionals are in high demand.

Careers in HVAC will require a thorough knowledge of HVAC systems. There are programs that focus on HVAC training, as well as certification programs. These are often found at community colleges or vocational/technical schools and can last from six to 24 months. HVAC roles may also require some longer-term on-the-job training.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC employment is expected to increase by 15 percent through 2026. The annual pay range for HVAC mechanics and installers is $50,590-$80,820.


Knowing how to safely erect, place and join steel girders, columns, and other pieces to form structural frameworks is a skill that can be acquired even without a degree. Iron and steel workers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support bridges, roads, and many other structures.

Iron and steel workers perform work that is physically demanding, sometimes even dangerous. Safety procedures and equipment to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries are key in these roles.

Interested in working as an iron and steel worker? Look into local apprenticeships or opportunities to train and earn while you learn. Structural iron and steel workers can earn salaries that range from $54,830-$94,140 without a college degree.


According to the Porch Research study, if ease of getting into the field is a priority for you, you might consider a job as an insulation worker. These roles don’t require multiple credentials or long-term training. Typically, a high school diploma or the equivalent and some short-term on-the-job training will suffice.

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems. Insulation workers can earn from $45,820-$82,530 annually with very little formal training.


Residential solar installations have exploded in recent years, according to CNBC. This is most likely one of the factors that went into the Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction that jobs in solar installation are expected to increase by 52% in the next 10 years.

Solar Photovoltaic Installers can earn an annual salary that ranges from $46,470-$64,600 with a high school diploma or equivalent and a moderate amount of on-the-job training.

Build A Career in the Skilled Trades

Thousands of skilled trade professionals working in construction and other industries prove every day that a college degree is not required for a fulfilling and lucrative career.  There are many opportunities to explore if you are considering a career in construction. Jobs in high demand that pay well and set you up for self-employment (if that appeals to you) are plentiful in the skilled trades.

Interested in learning about opportunities for scholarships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and more right here in York County, PA? Check out our YBA WorkforceNOW® opportunities page.

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The YBA Workforce NOW Foundation is directly connected to hundreds of employers in York County that are looking for the next generation of skilled trade professionals. Many of them offer on-the-job training, apprenticeships, mentorships, and more.

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NOW Foundation

The YBA Workforce NOW Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization committed to growing our future workforce and connecting future skilled trade professionals with a lifetime of opportunities.

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The future is in YOUR hands. Have questions for us or ready to take the next step? We’ve got you!

Workforce NOW Board MemberLaurie Lourie

York Builders Association 

Executive Vice President 

How long have you been a YBA member?  
8 years as YBA Executive Vice President 

Involvement in YBA 
As Executive Vice President, I work closely with the York Builders Association Board of Directors on the strategic direction of the association, manage our talented team of employees, develop the culture of the organization, build relationships with YBA members, the community, and other stakeholders, identify potential sources of income and oversee income generating activities. Prior to my role with YBA, I served as Executive Vice President of the Wayne County Builders Association for 22 years. 

Why did you get involved with Workforce NOW?  
With direct experience working alongside members in the construction trades for three decades, I see first-hand how the lack of skilled workers impacts the ability to meet consumer demand, ultimately affecting our communities and the economy. I also see evidence of how successful and personally rewarding a career in the skilled trades can be. I am committed to generating awareness about the benefits of working in the skilled trades and inspiring more young people to consider the construction trades as a career path. 

Workforce NOW SecretaryEd Hesson

Traditions Bank 

Business Services Partner.  Commercial lending, deposits, and other business products and services. 

How long have you been a YBA member?
16 years 

Involvement in YBA
Previously served on the Workforce Committee 

Why did you get involved with Workforce NOW?
To educate younger generations about the importance of the trades and the viability of a career in the skilled trades. 

Other Community Involvement
Finance Committee & Board Member (York Day Nursery), Finance Committee & Board Member (DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre) 

Workforce NOW TreasurerMichael Lohss, Jr.

Regal, Inc. - Plumbing, HVAC & Home Automation 

General Manager - Running day-to-day operations, building/developing business strategy, and assisting other managers in developing and growing their team. 

How long have you been a YBA member? 
38 years 

Involvement in YBA
Vice President of the York Builders Association, Chair of Workforce NOW Committee 

Why did you get involved with Workforce NOW?
As a mechanical contractor that is directly affected by the labor shortage, I am very passionate about developing our youth. I see and feel the impact of what's happening to our trades locally, let alone in America. I chose to partner with the York Builders Association and the Workforce NOW Foundation due to their direct contact with the premier builder and associate members locally that are also directly affected by this. By working together, we can achieve an outcome to boost our local economy and help spread the message that college isn't for everyone and that a career in the trades can be just as valuable, if not more valuable, than earning a college degree. 

Workforce NOW Vice PresidentWilliam Rickard

Eastern York High School


How long have you been a YBA member?
2 years

Involvement in YBA
Workforce NOW Committee

Why did you get involved with Workforce NOW?
To help our students connect with the construction trades workforce.

Workforce NOW PresidentShonna Cardello, NTP

White Rose Settlement Services Inc.

President of White Rose Settlement Services and a founding partner when the company opened in July 1996.

How long have you been a YBA member?

22 years

Involvement in YBA

Board of Directors (Life Director), 2019 Board President, Women’s’ Council of the York County Builders Association, Marketing Committee, Workforce NOW Committee

Why did you get involved with Workforce NOW?
Working directly with the Builders and trades within the YBA has opened my eyes to the dire need for skilled tradesman.  We are all part of the same team and when one team member needs help, we all pitch in.  The idea to start a program came from necessity.   Our industry is aging and we need younger skilled tradesman.  It was a simple endeavor for me to support and become involved in the Workforce NOW initiative.  I look forward to continuing to promote this amazing Foundation!

Other Community Involvement
Shonna Stock Cardello is the President of White Rose Settlement Services and Inch Settlement Services LLC and a founding partner with the companies. She is a licensed title agent and has earned the designation of Certified Land Title Professional and in 2015 was awarded the National Title Professional designation by the American Land Title Association (ALTA).   She is a Life Director of the Pennsylvania Builders Association and a Past President of the York Builders Association.  Ms. Cardello was President during the Charter Year of the Women’s’ Council of the York County Builders Association.  Shonna currently is a TIPAC Board of Director for ALTA and is the Pennsylvania Trustee, and serves on the Title Action Network (TAN) and Government Affairs committees for ALTA. Shonna serves, and has served, on many committees for the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties (RAYAC) and the Pennsylvania Land Title Association.

Staff LiaisonMelissa Longenberger

Melissa Longenberger leads the Foundation’s efforts to advance awareness about the skilled trades as a rewarding career path and build connections throughout the community with local organizations, educators, school administrators, employers, and more. She also oversees the Foundation’s efforts to develop resources and programs supporting the mission to empower more students and build our future workforce. In her role as staff liaison, Melissa works closely with the YBA Workforce NOW Board of Directors. 

Melissa Longenberger is currently the Vice President of Member Relations for the York Builders Association, where she’s served in a membership role since 2015. Melissa has been at the forefront of the Workforce NOW initiative, including spearheading its inception in 2018.