Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College (Full Interview)

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Description
Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College (Full Interview) 5

"If we are lending money that ostensibly we don't have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don't exist, I might suggest that we've gone around the bend a little bit," says TV personality Mike Rowe, best known as the longtime host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs.

"There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have - right now - about 3 million jobs that can't be filled," he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing. "Jobs that typically parents' don't sit down with their kids and say, 'Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.'"

Rowe, who once sang for the Baltimore Opera and worked as an on-air pitchman for QVC, worries that traditional K-12 education demonizes blue-collar fields that pay well and are begging for workers while insisting that everyone get a college degree. He stesses that he's "got nothing against college" but believes it's a huge mistake to push everyone in the same direction regardless of interest or ability. Between Mike Rowe Foundation and Profoundly Disconnected, a venture between Rowe and the heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Rowe is hoping both to help people find new careers and publicize what he calls "the diploma dilemma."

Rowe recently sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss his bad experience with a high school guidance counselor (3:20), why he provides scholarships based on work ethic (6:57), the problem with taxpayer-supported college loans (8:40), why America demonizes dirty jobs (11:32), the happiest day of his life (13:14), why following your passion is terrible advice (17:05), why it's so hard to hire good people (21:04), the hidden cost of regulatory compliance (23:16), the problem with Obama's promise to create shovel ready jobs (33:05), efficiency versus effectiveness (34:17), and life after Dirty Jobs (38:24).

Aprrox. 41 minutes. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain. Edited by Bragg.

💬 Comments on the video

What I hate about college is requiring courses that aren't related to your major.

Author — NekoBoyOfficial


Only go to college for a STEM degree, otherwise learn a trade.
You don't need an English degree to be an author, you don't need a theatre degree to be a good singer/actor, you don't need a gender studies degree to be stupid.

Author — SirCouchus


I've noticed something about the "dirty Jobs" show: NO feminist group complained about the stark inequality of the sexes for these jobs.

Author — almonious


I really like this guy. He answered a question, "I have no idea" instead of trying to pretend he knew the answer. He's real.

Author — technoway


Proud state college drop-out turn welder right here. Mike Rowe is an inspiration

Author — Jacob Black


College was great for my parents. It transformed their lives by taking both of them from poor rural upbringings to rich suburban adult living. Unfortunately because of this they tended to look down upon anyone who had no college, which caused me to feel inadequate until I enrolled. Long story short: I ended up wasting at least ten of the best prime years of my life before finally dropping out of college, after which I attended a 7-month trade school in electronic drafting which provided me with a truly fulfilling and well-paying career which has lasted 20 years now. Our society's assembly-line mentality--especially regarding education--has ruined almost as many people as it has helped, I think. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for education. Not even college. People are different.

Author — rredhawk


going to school for welding and metal fabrication. paying America back by building it.



Mike is right. I double majored in finance and accounting and paid for college by working in the trades. I worked in finance for a few years and was promoted 3 times, but I found that it made me unhappy. I was the number 2 man right behind the CFO of the company but I made less money than when I was self employed. I missed being self employed and I missed the trades. When I quit everyone thought I'd lost my mind but the truth was that I was seeking happiness. I build homes one at a time and I sell them. I do all the plumbing, HVAC, Electric, tile, flooring, windows, doors, trim work...pretty much everything accept for the masonry, framing, and roofing. My motto is, "If it doesn't outlast my grandchildren then I did a poor job". I love my work.

Author — Rocketninja200


I had a similar convo with my HS counselor and said I don't want to go to college... I had no money, was smart enough at 18 years old to know I didn't want that debt, and didn't even know what I wanted to do with my life. He wrote me off at that point. 15 years later... I'm pulling down a good salary at a job where I worked my way up. It can happen without college!

Author — Gypsy Wolf


I would vote for Mike Rowe for ANY office without hesitation. Love this guy....

Author — S Kim


The scariest 9 words in the english language..."I'm from the government and I'm here to help"



"Identify the thing that most people don't want to do, figure out a way to do it, and then figure out a way to love it." -- Mike Rowe

Author — Jay Scott ANDERSON


Conclusion, go for jobs that are in demand .

Author — kaz9781


Mike Rowe is an American treasure and an American hero.

Author — InsideOfMyOwnMind


I can’t imagine anyone finding his opinions ridiculous. Such a stand up honest guy.



My happiest job was the hardest one I ever had: package handler. It wasn't so much that I had special skills lifting and fitting boxes, but that I chose to work hard and do the job as best as I could. Even though I'd work in 100 degrees or below zero and come home covered in suit, I've never had more satisfaction in anything I've done; even though my kind of labor wasn't praised on television, I had no doubts that what I was doing was worth while.



Never got a college degree, now I'm an air traffic controller roughly 90k a year and no debt. And I have the money and free time to follow my passion which is sailing.

Author — Tom Kazansky


"An army of angry acronyms!!!!" 😂😂😂😂 I almost died! 😂

Author — Alisabeth Jeffery


In my mind, success isn't measured by how high you're getting paid from your job. Your job isn't what makes you successful, its how you manage your money.

Author — Team Raven


30:38 "I don't know." I love that answer. I can't stress that enough. Why can't more people just admit that?

Author — Khmerican Guy