For the past several years, we have heard about the skills gap and demand for tradesmen. My son went into welding because he enjoyed it and because there was supposed to be a demand for welders. He did find jobs, though the starting pay with his skills was $10 to $12 hour; the top of the scale was $15. Good thing he spent two years going to school and getting his certification so he could get the big bucks.

So while all these companies are crying for skilled workers, what has happened to the pay range? How much do you really bring home on a $12-an-hour job after taxes and union dues?

Luckily, my son was hired by the B&N railroad, and with wages twice the amount of the welding jobs he applied for, he is looking for his first house.