SHORELINE, Wash. — With a tool belt around his waist and nail gun in hand, Dylan Koidahl is climbing the ladder to his success by way of the roof on his family's shed.
It is just one of the summer projects Koidahl has taken on over the years. He has built two decks and a fence at his parents' Shoreline home.
The 18-year-old just graduated from Shorewood High School and watched as many of his classmates marched off to pricey four-year colleges. That was something Koidahl didn't think he was cut out for.
"I saw a different route for myself with less school, saving a lot of money, and not going into debt,” Koidahl said. “I was like, yeah, I'm in!"
Koidahl already makes decent money working with his hands building decks and fences. It's something he can see building into a career.
"It's good, honest work," he said. "It's good working with your hands and it's different every day."
There are about 7 million job openings currently across the United States, most of which do not require a four-year degree.
That's where Mike Rowe, the host of the hit TV show "Dirty Jobs," comes in. Rowe is on a mission to help countless kids like Koidahl be successful in skilled labor.
Rowe has created a scholarship program to help young people pay for trade schools and such.
Koidahl had to write essays, submit several letters of recommendation, and pledge "the best way to distinguish myself at work is to arrive early, stay late and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is."
He plans to take his $2,000 award to Edmonds Community College this fall to study construction management and one day open his own construction company.
For now, Koidahl said he's just focusing on constructing his own career path and finding simple happiness in his work.
"It's good to come back a month later, a year later, and take a look and see what you built. It's still standing. It's still doing its job. That's satisfaction for me,” Koidahl said.