Some tradies are earning more than people who have completed degrees at university, a new study has found.
Auckland consultancy firm Scarlatti tracked the average yearly income, through Inland Revenue tax records, of a group of 19 year olds right up until they turned 32.
They found by the age of 30, a mechanical engineer has earnt $185,000 more than an accountant, a plumber has earnt $21,000 more than a medical graduate and a flooring installer has earnt $116,000 more than a lawyer.
Industry Training Federation chief executive Josh Williams said parents should be encouraging their kids to consider working in a trade.
"We'd like the mums and dads of New Zealand to know that getting an apprenticeship straight out of school is a really good option.
"This isn't about saying university is bad, this is about saying that the rewards from undertaking work-based training and apprentices are very, very good."
The study found after age 30 university graduates began to earn more than apprentices.
This is without considering student loans, which averaged to be $30,000 for those whose who were recorded in the study.
Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan said university graduates were therefore better off in the long-term.
"What the report is saying is true, that yes you are better off in the trades up until about age 30. What the report doesn't say is of course you're better off actually with a degree from about age 30 to the age 65.
"A typical medical graduate will be be about eight years into their studies and they're also the profession that is most likely to earn about $4.5 million dollars more than just a straight school leaver over their entire working lives."
Mr Whelan said money wasn't everything either.
"From our point of view, they're asking the wrong question. It's not about whether someone is better off with either a trade or a degree, it's are they actually doing what they enjoy and do they have fulfilling, satisfying lives?"'
There are currently 43,000 apprentices and 103,000 industry trainees in New Zealand.
Without a student loan and plenty of work opportunities, a career in trade was a good choice, Mr Williams said.
"There are job shortages everywhere. I can't tell you of any of the members of the industries that we cover that isn't screaming out for workers right now."