More people with bachelor’s degrees go back to school to learn skilled trades

November 20, 2020

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Putting on hazmat gear for the first time turns out to be a drawn-out process, so the trainees who are practicing this new skill make the time go faster with a little clowning around.

“Smile! Work it! Work it!” one shouts at a classmate as she jokingly strikes glamour poses for photos in a heavy vapor suit with rubber boots, two layers of gloves, a respirator and a 26-pound breathing tank. Another compares the get-up to the uniforms worn by the child-detection agents in the movie “Monsters, Inc.”

Spread out in a parking lot beside a fire station, these congenial 20- and 30-somethings are enrolled in a community college program to become firefighters.

Four of the five in this group have something else in common: They previously earned bachelor’s degrees, even though they’ve now returned to school to prepare for a job that doesn’t require one. More»