For decades, universities and colleges were the preferred higher education institutions. However, in recent years, trade schools have increasingly become the higher education institutions-of-choice of many Americans for many reasons. First, there has been an increase in demand for skilled technicians. Trade schools often produce finer technicians than universities and colleges. As such, it comes as no surprise that they’ve witnessed a surge in student applications.
Another reason why trade schools have gained much traction over the years is that they’re rather affordable. Trade schools’ costs vary by program. Nonetheless, they are generally more affordable than traditional university degrees.
There are several trades you can learn in a trade school. They include masonry, carpentry, construction and electrical management, and cosmetology. Most trade schools also offer HVAC installation, maintenance, repair, and replacement training programs.
While trade schools are relatively less expensive than universities, they still cost money. To boost enrollment in trade schools, the government and several foundations have been offering financial aid and scholarships to needy students. As such, if you want to attend trade school but require financial aid/scholarship, all you have to do is apply.
Trades Taught in Trade Schools
After high school graduation, you have two options, to remain under the shelter of parents or guardians or get up and look for skills to help you make a living. If you’ve always thought that the only way to study further and land employment is through the 4-year colleges, then you should think again.
Trade schools, also referred to as career colleges, technical institutions, or vocational schools, are the next significant alternative you may want to consider. College programs mostly focus on equipping students with academic learning rather than preparing their students for employment. On the other hand, trade school programs focus on applicable hands-on skills and experience that make their students ready for the job market immediately after graduation.
Similarly, trade workers are very fundamental to day-to-day lives. These experts are responsible for building houses and schools, cooking meals in restaurants, maintaining hydro systems, and ensuring that we have lights. You also stand to land lucrative job opportunities with your associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate from a trade school.
Rising tuition fees and other economic factors are rapidly making students favor vocational schools other than bachelor’s degrees and different higher degrees learned in colleges and universities.
What Can You Learn to Do in Trade Schools?
Vocational schools like Chamberlain University, American Career College, and UEI focus on equipping learners with more practical skills to pursue specific career pathways. The options are numerous, including programs like a degree in nursing and health sciences, culinary arts, information technology, medical assisting, or automotive technician training.
The first step into getting the best out of vocational school is to ensure that you choose the right trade that matches your interests and abilities and the right school. As a parent, you can help your child choose the right career path while still in secondary school.
Here are some factors to consider while choosing the right career path for yourself.
- Your interests and passion as choosing a career path you have an interest in will make you enjoy doing your job.
- Your skillset and any experiences that can help you in the trade.
- What you want to do with your life in the future.
- Job shadowing (Involves doing a case study on people practicing your top career interests. See their daily life and check if you like the life they’re living).
- How much money you’ll be making.
What Are Certain Trades Taught at Trade Schools?
Vocational education will equip you with the necessary skills to join some of the most lucrative fields. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, trade skills have a great job outlook, and some offer excellent salaries.
Similarly, many trade-oriented careers like wind turbine technicians, elevator mechanics, electricians, HVACR technicians, Industry maintenance mechanics are up-and-coming. While most jobs outlooks project expansion rates of between five and eight percent, these careers project to 14% or more in the next decade.
This shows you that the skills you obtain from vocational programs will make you relevant for the job market for a long time. Salaries in these jobs are also very high compared to other college opportunities. Here are other lucrative trades that you may consider.
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Web Development
- Respiratory Therapy
- IT Technology
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Boiler making
- Dental Hygienist
- Power Utility Technology
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Automotive Service Tech
- Air Traffic Controller
- Commercial Diver
- Building and Construction
A trade school is any post-secondary institution that focuses on preparing students for the job market. The program majorly emphasizes giving you hands-on experience in a specific career. Suppose you already have a career in mind, and a vocational school offers the trade in their programs. In that case, this is a better option for you since you stand better chances of joining the job market faster, and you won’t spend too much time studying.
Unlike most four-year-degree colleges, trade school programs often take about months, one year, or two years. However, trades opening careers like electricians are more complex and may take longer than two years.
Since trade schools major in giving experience and skills, apprenticeship and other on-site studying are the top concentration areas of their learning. While colleges stress giving you educational experience, a trade school will provide you with more in-depth practical experience in your field of study.
This setting comes to your advantage since on-site studies help you make useful connections and gain skills that are immediately applicable after graduation. Similarly, the more you gain skills while studying is, the more employable you get. As a result, career colleges will allow you to earn while still studying.
Tuition Costs of Trade Schools
The cost of tuition in trade schools is one of the most important questions students aspiring to join the vocational schools often ask. It’s by no chance one of the most important considerations to take into place. You need to prepare upfront. The best way to do so is by knowing the amount of financial investment you need before committing to your course for study.
With technological advancement, you can now attend trade school programs both online and in-person in respective schools. Your online associate’s degree, certificate, or diploma will still provide the necessary education and training to prepare you for in-demand jobs in health care support or skilled trades.
What Is the Cost of Attending Trade Schools?
The cost of attending trade schools varies greatly depending on the institution you’re taking your course and the program you choose. Alongside tuition fees, there are also other expenses, like supplies (e.g., books) and accommodation. This factor will also affect the course’s net cost greatly depending on whether you’re attending a class virtually or in-person.
Program costs can also affect tuition net cost enormously. Programs can cost as low as $1000 or as high as $30000 annually. Before you commit, gauge the program to know if the outcome will be worth the costs, and ensure that you choose the right college for your interests.
Here is a breakdown of the career college tuition fees.
The tuition fees can range from about $ 1000 to $ 70000 annually, depending on the aforementioned factors. According to the US Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center (CATC), the average tuition fees in the 2017-2018 school year for two-year programs in different institutions were as follows.
- Public Schools: $ 3588
- Private For-Profit Schools: $ 14547
- Private Not-for-profit Schools: $14182
You may also have to incur costs of other supplies such as books, uniforms, lab fees, or tools alongside the tuition fees.
Luckily, online students may not have to go the full length of these costs since they won’t need many supplies like the in-person trainees. Similarly, many colleges already incorporate the cost of supplies in their tuition fees, so you won’t have to budget for them independently.
Overall Cost of Trade Schools
Students need to consider the average net cost of the institution. This the amount the student pays. It includes the tuition fees, cost of other supplies, plus any additional expenses after applying for financial aid.
Many vocational schools have a net price calculator on their website. You can take advantage of this to know the approximate value of your course.
What If You Can’t Afford the Tuition Fees?
You still stand a chance to pursue your career even if the published tuition fees seem out of your reach. Your first option may be the school you want to enroll in. Many schools offer financial aid to their students through grants or in-house scholarships. The school will also refer you to other helpful sources in case they don’t provide such assistance.
Similarly, you can also apply for organizational, private, and federal student aid programs such as grants, scholarships, and student loans.
- They’re non-refundable
- Qualification and amount disbursed depend on your financial need, school cost, and whether you’re enrolling part- or full-time.
- Only available if you don’t already have a degree
- Federal Pell Grant is one of the most popular kind
- You don’t need to pay back.
- You can get them from various sources, including professional associations, unions, schools, and trade organizations.
- Some are naturally general, while others target students entering certain occupations.
- Mostly merit-based, but each provider can set their eligibility standards
Federal financial grants mostly cater to students taking programs running for not less than 15 weeks. If your course takes a shorter time, you didn’t qualify for the assistance or scholarships, or you need extra funding, a student loan is an excellent option to fund your studies. Federal loans should be your first choice since they have more advantages. If you don’t succeed, you can also consider private loans like Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Student Loan.
How Do You Apply for Grants and Scholarships Offered to Trade School Students?
- Fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student’s Aid (FAFSA)
- Wait for your Student Aid Report to come. A document specifying all kinds of federal aid you qualify for.
- You can consider filling any other financial aid applications you qualify for.
Certifications Earned from Trade Schools
Did you know that there are other educational opportunities to consider if you don’t want to pursue a four-year degree course? Students can choose whether to pursue associate degree programs or professional trade certificates depending on their career choice or personal preferences. However, they should be aware of the differences and similarities of trade certificates and associate degrees.
Best Trade Schools that Offer Vocational Programs:
- Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics – West Mifflin, PA
- North Central Kansas Technical College – Beloit, KS
- State Technical College of Missouri – Linn, MO
- Lake Area Technical Institute – Watertown, SD
- Lancaster County Career and Technology Center – Willow Street, PA
Schools that Offer Associate Degree Programs
- Fayetteville Technical Community College – Fayetteville, NC
- Baton Rouge Community College – (BRCC)-LA
- Saint Paul College – St. Paul, MN
- Zane State College – Zanesville, OH
- Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, KY
Differences in Professional Trade Certificates and Associate Degree Programs
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), trade certificates can be earned by those students who have attained secondary or post-secondary education levels. It also noted that between 1996 and 1997 and 2009 to 2010, there was a rise of 49% in the number of associate degrees. Below are the main differences between professional trade certificates and associate degree programs.
- It takes a shorter period to earn a trade certificate, but an associate degree program takes a longer time. Students spend 12 months in school to attain professional trade certificates, while it takes two years to earn an associate degree.
- Students at the secondary or high school level can apply for a vocational program, but to pursue associate degree programs, they must have completed some post-secondary education.
- Graduates with an associate degree earn a higher because the program is more complex, while those with professional trade certificates make a lower salary.
According to salary.com and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional trade certificates can help students earn good money from various jobs. It’s not a must for students to attend colleges and attain a bachelor’s degree to work in high paying jobs. Trade schools offer a variety of vocational programs from where students can choose depending on their career goals.
In trade school programs, students study and attain a certificate after completing a particular course. Though the course takes less than two years, graduates can work in various industries and firms. After attaining a trade school certificate, these graduates can work in multiple jobs, including:
- Hospitality Management
- Fashion Designer
- Multimedia artists or animators
- Dental hygienists
- Radiation therapist
- Air traffic controller
- A real estate agent or broker
- Plumber or pipefitter
- Licensed practical nurse
Though graduates with a vocational school certificate can work in several jobs, the certificate isn’t valid in all positions. Hence, students should research before choosing any program. They should ensure to select programs valid in areas they are passionate to work in. However, there are several places where each graduate can get a high paying job.
- Restaurants, cafeterias, or bars
- Real estate
- Motion picture and video industries
- Funeral homes
- Construction sites
- Oil and gas sites
- Courts or legislatures
- Federal aviation administration (FAA)
- Finance and insurance
- Manufacturing firms
Most students wonder whether employees prefer a certificate or a diploma. Students who enroll in vocational education earn two types of certifications- a certificate or a diploma. Students can get jobs with either of these professional certifications. However, a diploma student could earn a higher salary than that with a certificate because their courses are in-depth.
Though there are few differences between a certificate and a diploma, these types of professional certifications, graduates can get jobs in various industries and offices. Again, graduates can get a similar job though they have different skills and knowledge. However, most people don’t understand the differences between a certificate and a diploma.
Trade School Certificates and Diplomas
- Medical assisting services
- Clinical assistance
- Web developer
- Landscaper and groundskeeper
- Medical records technicians
Though certificates and diplomas are used interchangeably and have similarities, they have a few differences.
- Some certificates are earned with as little as six months of study but to earn a diploma, students must study for at least one year.
- A diploma offers an in-depth curriculum, but a certificate offers trade skills depending on a specific trade.
- Certificates focus on a single subject, but diplomas are more technical and require students to study wider.
Best Trade Schools
Students take different routes after graduating from high school. Some go ahead to attain a bachelor’s degree, while others go to trade schools. However, the academic results also determine which route to take after high school. Students who choose to go to trade schools should consider choosing vocational school programs that offer vital jobs.
Nowadays, more students are enrolling in trade schools compared to the past years. The Atlantic reported an increase in trade school enrollment from 9.6 million in 1999 to 16 million in 2014. Because vocational education has many programs, students can choose a course depending on their passion. For example, health-care careers have lots of occupations such as dental hygienist, diagnostic medical sonographer, and radiation therapist.
Where Can You Find the Best Trade Schools in the Country?
- Grand Chute, Wisconsin
Fox Valley Technical College offers various programs, including welding, nursing assistants, machine and metalworking.
- Wooster, OH
Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute offers various programs, including crop and soil sciences, animal sciences, and husbandry and agricultural business.
- Sioux City, Iowa
Western Iowa Tech Community College offers programs including automotive mechanics, liberal arts and humanities, and nursing assistants.
- Watertown, South Dakota
Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on various areas, including welding, diesel mechanics, and agricultural business.
- Pasadena, Texas
San Jacinto College focuses on various areas, including welding, business, liberal arts, and humanities.
- West Mifflin, PA
Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics
“How do you define the right trade school before selecting it over the rest?” Students should ask themselves this question to avoid regretting it after enrolling in a particular trade school. Despite the overwhelming that accompanies enrolling in a trade school, students should take their time before making a final decision.
Qualities of The Best Trade Schools
State of the Art Facilities
The tools and machinery of the best trade schools are up to date. Students need to know how to use various tools and machinery; hence they should function effectively. It can be frustrating if a student attends a vocational school where the tools are old and worn out. Knowing how to use the available machines prepares you to work in your career.
Small Class Sizes
Trade school learning involves lots of practical work. Hence, classrooms shouldn’t have a desk format; instead, they should have a large area to practice their skills. The best trade schools have multiple classes where each class size is small. Again, various instructors teach students about trade skills in each class.
Students spend most of their time in trade schools after enrolling. Therefore, the best trade schools support a student’s personal and academic life. These schools should have a serene environment where each student learns several skills needed in life.
Curriculum-Based on Current Industry Practice
The best trade schools provide a curriculum structure for students based on current trends. Students should read the structure carefully to understand their course and what they should do during vocational education. The knowledge and skills gained help students to get professional trade school jobs after they graduate.
Tips to Choose the Right Trade School that Satisfies Your Needs
Do you know that most students nowadays opt for trade schools after graduating from high school? Trade school programs are specific to each course. Therefore, students can choose the course they are passionate about and attain a trade school certification after a short duration. They should select a trade school that satisfies their needs. Here are some tips on picking the right trade school:
- Decide on Your Practice Area: Students shouldn’t choose their area of focus in a rush. What they choose to do in trade schools have a significant impact on their lives. Therefore, they should choose a trade that positively impacts their future. If students aren’t sure which course program to study in trade schools, they do thorough research to avoid regretting later.
- Check the Graduation Rate: The right trade schools have a high number of graduating students. A high graduation rate also indicates that the staff and the school are commendable. Students should avoid trade schools with a low graduation rate.
- Cost and Financial Aid: Students should find out the cost of the trade school, including tuition and materials such as books. The fee should be within the student’s budget. Again, students should confirm with the school to know if they are eligible for a financial loan.
- Reputation: Before choosing a trade school, students should research if there are complaints from other students concerning the school and its programs. Again, students should ensure that the school offers the trade courses of their choice that ensure they get employed after graduating.
The question, “What are the differences between professional trade certificates and associate degree programs?” is one of the most searched queries on the internet. One key difference is that professional trade certificates focus on specialization, while associate degree programs are more about holistic education. Another key difference is that professional trade certificate programs are only two years long, while associate degree programs take about four years to be completed. Although professional trade certificate programs and associate degree programs differ a bit, both are essential.
The number of trade schools has surged to cater to the increase in demand for trade school programs. Given that all of these schools claim to offer elite programs, many individuals have found it difficult to choose which trade school to join.
It’s worth noting that although all trade schools often claim their programs are superb, this is not always the case. To avoid joining an unreliable trade school, there are certain precautionary steps that you should follow. First, you should seek referrals. After getting the references, you should then carry out thorough background checks on them while reviewing their past students’ feedback. As much as these steps sound fairly unimportant, they’re pretty vital. By following these steps, you’ll save time as well as gather lots of information. Using the information you’ve gathered, you can easily determine which trade school suits your needs.
The trade school you choose should have several well-trained and experienced tutors, adequate study resources, and a fantastic track record. It should also be affordable, student-centered, accredited, and reputable. By choosing a trade school with all these qualities, you can rest assured of getting the high-quality professional trade certificate program you require.
If you’d like to become a successful and skillful employee, enrolling in a respected trade school would be a wise move.