The Secret to Success is In a Septic Tank

Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs

As you read this, there are high paying, worthwhile jobs available that people don’t seem to want or won’t do. America is regaining strength after a debilitating recession, many Americans had to reinvent themselves, and there’s been a shift in society that requires a different kind of skill set.

This is an ideal setting to challenge the traditional concept that an expensive four-year degree is the primary pathway to success. Universities and colleges are not preparing America’s next generation with the correct skills, but in fact, fostering a sense of entitlement. There are thousands of career opportunities with companies that are struggling to fill jobs that require technical skill and expertise. However, when the media is perpetually celebrating reality TV “stars,” YouTube millionaires, and technology start ups, working in an occupation such as water or wastewater just doesn’t seem exciting.

America’s water utilities are bracing for a serious labor crisis. While water professionals are vital to protecting public health through the operation and maintenance of treatment plants, the dire need for skilled workers jeopardizes the future of your clean and safe water. According to the Water Environment Federation, by 2018 nearly 40% of water utility workers and 31% of wastewater utility workers will retire. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and industry organizations are working to promote the water sector to ensure that there is a pool of qualified water professionals to meet current and future needs.

So, before you pierce your body one more time or get another tattoo, consider doing something really avant-garde. Become a member of America’s badly needed skilled workforce.

“I looked around to see where everyone else was headed, and then I went the opposite way. Then I got good at my work. Then I found a way to love it. Then I got rich.” — a very successful septic tank cleaner

In today’s “All Things Internet” there are a range of resources available to empower students with knowledge and choices, such as the California Energy & Utility Workforce Consortium or mikeroweWORKS (mrW). If you look up Mike Rowe, you’ll find an innocuous description of the man.

Michael Gregory Rowe is an American television host and narrator, actor and former opera singer best known for his work on the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs.

But if you ask me, he’s an American superhero.

Mike tenaciously stresses the importance of making and building things as a vital component to restoring America’s economic might. He persistently emphasizes the importance of policies that promote infrastructure investment. And unlike many, Mike puts his money where his mouth is.

Since 2013, Mike’s foundation has identified students from around the country to provide millions in scholarship funds for school tuition. Each mrW scholarship is worth about $15,000. Any high school senior interested in the program must first take the “S.W.E.A.T. Pledge” (Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo) and make a video explaining their intentions.

When Mike launched the “mikeroweWORKS” campaign to reinvigorate interest and support the skilled trades, he created a platform designed as a resource for people looking for more information about careers in these specialized fields. He writes extensively about the country’s relationship with work, the widening skills gap, offshore manufacturing, infrastructure decline, currency devaluation and several other topics for which he purportedly has no “academic credentials.” But when he lends his signature sense of humor with lofty hyperbole on working America, he demonstrates superhuman strength.

In 2008, Mike gave an intellectually charged tribute to skilled labor in a TED Talk about the nature of hard work, and how it’s degraded in today’s society. In 2011, he testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee about changing perceptions and stereotypes around blue-collar work and in 2014 was asked to testify to the U.S House Committee on Natural Resources. In 2013, Mike and Caterpillar worked together to launch “Profoundly Disconnected,” an initiative focused on technical recruitment.

Throughout his hit television series, Mike and his crew located regular working folks and explored why they passionately pursued unusual jobs, avocations or causes. He successfully blends an esoteric mindfulness of society with the occupations that remain the foundation of America.

And for all you young ladies out there, listen up. If you really want to stand out, big companies are seeking women to fulfill jobs in these unique occupations. If you don’t believe me or don’t want to commit, try an internship or learn about The Dwyer Group. Their Women in the Trade Scholarship is designed to empower women.

Wall Street giants like J.P. Morgan Chase are involved, IT leader Cisco Systems, and big time tool manufacturer DEWALT have all committed to changing perception and creating a generation of dedicated, smart, skilled and PROUD workers. It took over 40-years to elevate the four-year college system to where it is today — a money making machine.

The American viewpoint that everyone should pursue a four-year college degree to become successful is outdated. In this Information Age it shouldn’t take another four decades to promote other avenues and make them acceptable.

Hey, the secret to your success could be in a septic tank!