College & Career

BLUE VS. WHITE

By Valerie Asimacopoulos
Maine South

Whether you’re a natural leader or a creative worker, a career in building and design might be perfect for you. Both of these jobs will keep you busy—one requires a lot of responsibility and independence, while the other involves deep thought and constant problem solving. Here are a few details about each career path.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Blue collar: Construction manager

Description Being a construction manager takes leadership to a whole new level. An important part of the job is paying close attention to details through planning, revising and supervising. You’ll also be in charge of negotiating the best terms for your team and preparing reports for your clients.

Salary
About $83,860 per year or $40.32 per hour

Degree
Associate’s degree

Pros
Even though some college education is preferred for this position, work experience can be equally valuable. In other words, you might be able to land a job with a high school degree and a few years of construction experience. Management positions typically require five-plus years of work experience.

Cons
Working on a construction site can be dangerous. Besides the physical risks, a management position like this one requires a lot of responsibility and leadership. Plus, you might not always be able to enjoy the weekends. Oftentimes, managers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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White collar: Aerospace Engineer

Description As an aerospace engineer, your options are wide open. This job is all about the development of aircrafts and similar technology. You could create your own designs, maintain programs or test prototypes by collecting data. You could even work your way up to project manager.

Salary
About $97,480 per year or $46.86 per hour

Degree
Bachelor’s degree

Pros
This white-collar job will keep you on your toes. Some aerospace engineers even work on national defense projects. Besides a nice income, you’ll gain new problem-solving skills and a base of
scientific and logical knowledge that will help you outside of work.

Cons As you may have guessed, this field can create hectic work responsibilities and challenges. Plus, constant changes in technology can lead to layoffs. Like most jobs, you may be required to work longer hours to complete important projects.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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