LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Miquel Jones II wasn’t happy with his job after graduating from Basic Academy of International Studies.

“I didn’t really know what to do as a career. I was working in the kitchen originally before. I was like a prep cook and dishwasher,” Jones of Henderson said.

Jones knew college wasn’t for him, so the 23-year-old instead enrolled at the National Technical Institute. He is currently working as an engineer at Lake Las Vegas.

“I was never able to afford college and stuff like that, so I pretty much just went to trade school, which is more affordable,” Jones said.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse shows an 8% drop in college enrollment from 2018 to 2022.

As college continues to get more expensive, some students are choosing to learn a trade instead such as plumbing or carpentry.

NTI has three different ways to earn a certificate: traditional, fusion, and immersion. Students also do hands-on training.

They can earn a certificate in at least three months and the trade school charges students between $6,000 to $10,000, depending on whether they study HVAC, plumbing, or electrical.

“Right now, there’s enough momentum that people are starting to realize that there’s a huge employment gap,” Kodi Wilson, campus director of NTI in Henderson, said. “When the pandemic happened, people were looking for essential jobs, and they deemed construction and service industry essential.”

Many students enrolled at a trade school are looking to switch careers. At 40 years old, Nolan Cordero made a leap of faith in learning HVAC.

Cordero said his previous job was backbreaking.

“Chainsaw work. Cutting wood. I mean it’s good money, but eventually your body can only last so long,” Cordero said.

But for students who have not yet graduated, there are several Clark County magnet schools, including Northwest Career and Technical Academy, that teach kids construction trades while in high school.

Despite the recent decline in college enrollment, US Census data shows there were 13 million more Americans with a bachelor’s degree in 2021 than there were in 2011.