What Is a Trade School?

    September 23, 2021 | bestvalue

    For years, traditional colleges were the preferred higher learning institutions. However, in recent years, trade schools have witnessed a rise in enrollment, whereas traditional colleges have seen a rampant decline in enrollment. This massive shift can be attributed to the fact that the amount of time you need to complete a trade school program is way shorter than the amount of time you need to complete a university undergraduate program. Trade school programs often have more flexible schedules than undergraduate programs as well.

    If you’re looking for a program that enables you to get a job soon after you’ve completed it, you should enroll in a trade school program. It’s a known fact that trade schools enable their students to succeed. As such, the schools often provide their students targeted hands-on training as well as industry-specific training. They also help their students develop adaptability skills, competency skills, and even competency skills. All across the world, many organizations tend to hire more specialized individuals than individuals with general knowledge. They also often hire individuals who possess the skills mentioned above.

    According to data released by recognized research intuitions, unlike in the past, many employers nowadays prefer hiring experienced trade school graduates to college graduates. With this in mind, if you’d like to get employed promptly, enrolling in a trade school program would be wise.

    Differences Between a Trade School and a College

    Did you know that the number of trade school enrollment has risen to over 16 million in the country? The number is higher for those enrolling in colleges at over 19 million. 

    While there are thousands of trade schools and colleges in the country, most students only know more about universities and associate’s degrees. This tendency has to change. There are other excellent schools to get a higher education and a fulfilling career. Most trade schools specialize in horning in on student’s natural talents using vocational education.

    Therefore, it’s best to explore where you can gain the knowledge you need for your future apart from getting a bachelor’s degree. But wait, there’s more. It would be best if you learned the differences between a trade school and college.

    What are Trade Schools?

    Having a hard time determining what a trade school is? Well, you’ll be delighted to know that a trade school is an institution where you specialize in a specific skill. It differs from a four-year college program where you study diverse topics. 

    Most trade school graduates wind up specializing in specific trades like anesthesia, fashion, automotive repair, or plumbing. You’ll notice that the trade schools in your area offer the skills that are in high demand, which makes it easy to hone your skills in one area and become an expert, which differs from an associate degree. When you get quality vocational education, it’s easier to land a job or start your own business.

    What are Colleges? 

    Trade school students specialize in specific skill areas and have a limited number of topics to cover. On the other hand, colleges cover much more content. It’s the best option if you’ve yet to decide on your career and want to test different fields. 

    A four-year college degree, especially in business administration, gives you a wider pool of careers to choose from, and you can try out different industries until you find the right one for you. You can also mix it up in terms of majors and minors, proving beneficial in the future. 

    For example, if you pursue a finance major, you can take a minor in Arts and end up working in finance in an art gallery or museum. 

    As a high school graduate, take time to contemplate the two options of trade certificate programs and college. One way to help with this choice is by noting the differences between the two. You can even pursue an associate’s degree in the meantime.

    Differences between Trade Schools and College


    What is the price of pursuing a bachelor’s degree as compared to a trade certificate program? You’ll notice a big difference in terms of pricing, which you must take into consideration. 

    You’ll part with $5000 to $15,000 to get vocational education specializing in specific fields for trade school. On the other hand, colleges are more expensive since you have to pay $9,410 and above annually for four years. 

    Therefore, one of the main differences between trade school and college is the cost of education. It’s higher for college if you opt to start with an associate’s degree. While student loans are available, you end up with a lot of debt to pay back after graduation.

    Duration of Study 

    Vocational education lasts from eight months for simple courses to two years for complex ones. You can be in and out of school in no time to start working. It’s why most people are opting for trade schools where they graduate with trade certificates. 

    An associate’s degree, followed by a bachelor’s degree, takes longer depending on the course. You can take four to six years to complete.

    Course Selection

    What do you want to pursue in terms of higher education? As a high school graduate, you need to decide what comes next. The course you intend to pursue will give you more perspective in terms of what to pursue. Trade schools have more specialized courses, including graphic design, performing arts, animation, photography, nail technician, and many more. 

    Available Jobs and Careers

    Did you know getting an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a job when you graduate? With this in mind, pursuing vocational education is a better option because you can employ yourself. 

    Higher education is the next step for most high school graduates, but the question remains. what to pursue? Is it best to go for an associate’s degree or opt for vocational education? By noting the differences between the two, you can make a better decision.

    Benefits of a Trade School

    Did you know that over 40% of Americans prefer pursuing a trade school vocational education to a four-year college program? Most of them are between the ages of 18 to 24 and are learning the value of certificate programs in technical schools. 

    But why the sudden shift from pursuing a bachelor’s degree to focusing on trade school programs?

    More high school graduates discover that they don’t need a college education to live a better life and earn more. With this in mind, they opt not to go to school for four years and prefer the shorter duration pursuing vocational education.

    With this shift in higher education, what are some of the benefits to expect from technical schools?

    Flexible Enrollment Dates

    If you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree as a high school graduate, you must ensure you don’t miss the enrollment date. Strict timelines end up locking many students out. 

    Vocational schools, on the other hand, are more flexible. There are multiple enrollment dates annually, so you choose the one that’s best for you. Also, most classes are short and won’t keep you in school most of the time, meaning you can pursue other interests or get a job. 

    Jobs and Careers Opportunities

    When you enroll in vocational education and join other trade school graduates, you note that opportunities are higher compared to college students. Trade skills are in high demand, and some pay even more than those who get work with a bachelor’s degree

    Currently, the best jobs for certificate program graduates include electricians, respiratory therapists, plumbers, IT specialists, radiation therapists, dental hygienists, and many more. Also, you have a better chance of opening up your own company. 

    The salary difference is evident when a college degree graduate earns about $50,000 annually while a radiation therapist earns $85560.

    Flexible Study Schedules

    Since you have fewer classes while pursuing vocational education, you can create a flexible study schedule. For some, programs are available through online learning, meaning you can have a full-time job while studying part-time.  Such flexibility has seen enrollment in trade school programs shoot up. 

    But wait, there’s more. For many certificate programs in technical schools, you only need eight months to two years to complete and graduate.

    Affordable Certificate Programs

    The cost of a college education is steadily rising and is out of reach for many students. To pursue it, some have to take up student loans that plunge them into debt. 

    However, vocational education is a more affordable option meaning you save on cost and don’t need substantial student loans. Since the certificate programs are flexible, you can work and go to school, making it easier to pay for a vocational school. 

    Affordability has attracted more high school graduates to pursue trade school programs and opt-out of paying huge student debts after college. 

    Early Employment

    Did you know you stand a higher chance of landing a job before you complete your vocational education? The chances are higher if the certificate programs you pursue are in high demand. Some even encourage you to take online classes and be a full-time employee. For example, internships give employers a chance to assess your skills, and you might wind up with a job after. 

    Essential Classes Only

    Colleges have many extra classes that stretch out the period you have to complete a degree. While some are valuable, you commonly find classes in the program that you don’t need. 

    Classes are limited in a vocational school. You only find the classes you need to complete the certificate programs you choose. It means you can even pursue courses at the same time if you have ample time at hand.

    Hand-On Vocational Training

    Vocational education is delivered to a few students at a time, and you find out that most classes are small. It gives instructors a chance for one-on-one training making practical education the order of the day. With such specialized attention, you can understand what is being taught and become an expert in the field over time.

    Networking Opportunities

    Some employers opt to visit trade schools to help students learn more about the different certificate programs available. It’s a great chance to network and build some valuable work relationships that benefit you after graduation. You might end up landing a job at a networking event if you sell yourself well. 

    The growing number of trade school graduates is a testimony to growing interest in vocational education instead of four-year college courses. Certificate programs take less time to complete, are affordable, and have numerous other benefits listed above. 

    Career Skills Taught at Trade Schools

    Are you looking for a quick road to your first paycheck as a high school graduate? Well, the best option is to enroll at a trade school. Most programs in such institutions take between a few months to two years to award you the certifications necessary for your entry-level.

    Trade schools are referred to as vocational schools, career colleges, or technical schools, and are career-focused institutions that equip graduates with hands-on skills necessary for the job market. They offer programs that entirely emphasize knowledge and skills related to a specific skilled trade.

    Skilled trade, on the other hand, is an occupation that entails hands-on work and requires specialized training. For instance, carpentry schools will draw all their resources and facilities into equipping students with the needed skills and knowledge of being a carpenter.

    What Can You Learn at A Trade School?

    The options as to what skills and programs you can learn at a technical school are unlimited. Skilled trades are any job that requires hands-on experience. To determine what you can learn at a trade school, think of restaurants, and you see a chef, think of plumbers, mechanics, HVAC technicians, automotive engineers, electricians, and many others.

    A single trade school can offer all these skills in one campus split into various departments. However, some highly specialized institutions only concentrate on one trade but offer training in various specialties. For instance, a general technical college may offer certificate programs on generalized automotive mechanics, plumbing, masonry, etc., while a specialized school will offer only building and construction. 

    Vocational schools award certificates, associate’s degrees, or diploma certificates. The common trades in these schools are health care, culinary arts, industrial skills, and paralegals. To receive these credits, you may need to study a program of choice either for a few months, one year, or two years. 

    Most trades only require a few months at the entry-level. However, if you want to join a mid-level or professional group, you may have to seek higher education and sometimes a bachelor’s degree in a four-year college. Some professions may also demand a master’s degree or higher to join.

    However, the requirements of your job will most likely depend on your choice of starting level. Since vocational education is enough to help you start your career journey, we suggest that you start at the lowest possible level and grow your knowledge, skills, and experience as you climb up the ladder. Most vocational schools offer very flexible learning schedules. As a result, you can easily pursue your education further while also taking care of other life obligations.

    What Jobs Can You Get If You Go to A Trade School?

    A trade school prepares you for a career opportunity in a specific field. The options are numerous, but you have to carefully choose the right program. Your choices may depend on your interests, job market for the program, expected salary, and future marketability. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is the best place to help you understand the job outlook for many occupations as well as projected marketability.

    Best vocational education jobs appear in fast-growing fields with massive open positions annually. The schools equip learners with the knowledge and skills necessary for some of the best paying jobs with numerous opportunities and career stability. Some of these jobs include, but not limited to:

    • Plumbers
    • Civil Engineers
    • Industrial mechanics
    • Web developers
    • Welders
    • Machine operators
    • Diesel technicians
    • Legal assistants
    • Home inspectors
    • Bus driver
    • Crane operators
    • Masons
    • Truck/Train drivers

    Which Trade Skills Are in Demand?

    Learning a trade is one of the best ways to escape the fear of the uncertain future. Most skilled trades are continually in demand and are applicable in everyday living. Take a plumber, for example. We all depend on the flowing water supply to our homes and commercial properties. We also need functional pipes to ensure that the sewers run smoothly and no flooding occurs in the bathroom. But can you do it without the help of a plumber?

    This idea applies to several other trades, too. You can easily land your feet on some of the highest paying occupations by taking a short course at a technical school. The fastest-growing, best paying, and highest in-demand jobs you learn at trade schools are often very satisfying, too. You don’t have to attend a four-year college to be a skilled worker or land great opportunities. Some in-demand well-paying jobs trained at career colleges include:

    • Dental hygienist
    • Construction manager
    • Computer systems analyst
    • Database administrator
    • Air traffic controller
    • Human resource specialist
    • HVAC technician
    • Custodian
    • Licensed practical nurse
    • Legal assistant
    • Industrial machinery mechanic

    If you’re considering enrolling at a trade school, we hope this information has helped you come to a decision. If you want a quick way to earn a decent salary or cannot afford the high tuition fees for university or college, take action now.

    Best Trade School Programs

    Not every student wants to go to a four-year university or traditional college after graduating from high school, for many reasons. Maybe you want to get out into the workforce as soon as possible or you’re considering the high cost of studying in the university or traditional colleges. Whatever your reasons, you have a perfect chance of furthering your studies at a trade school.

    But not too fast. There are a few factors you need to consider before enrolling at the career college of your choice. You must ensure that you’re choosing the right school; you should understand the value of the trade you aspire to pursue and the potential job market. We’ll help you navigate through if you’re not sure.

    The US Department of Education defines a career college as any non-profit or for-profit, public, or private institution that generally provides career-focused education and training programs lasting two years or less.

    In other words, trade schools, also known as career colleges, or vocational schools, provide you with practical skills that prepare you for the job market immediately after graduation. They are more affordable than colleges or universities, and the programs also take less duration to complete.

    The school’s award certifications, associate’s degree, or diploma upon completion of various levels. These academic credits can transfer to two- or four-year-degree colleges or universities. However, it’s crucial to ascertain that your vocational institution is accredited since certifications from non accredited career colleges may not transfer you to a college for further studies.

    How Much Does It Cost to Enroll in The Best Trade Schools?

    Career colleges generally provide affordable training compared to 4-year colleges and universities. While the costs vary by program and the school you enroll with, the highest classes cost about $50 000 while the lowest can be as low as $10 000 for a whole program. On average, trade schools cost up to $33000.

    Considering the institution you enroll in, you may have to cater for books and other supplies aside from the fees, although some schools include that in the tuition fees. You also need to factor in the living or commuting costs if the school isn’t located around your residence. Similarly, you may not have to care about commuter and relocation expenses, plus other supplies, if you enroll at an online vocational school.

    What Happens If You Can’t Afford the Tuition Fees?

    Many financial assistance options can help you pursue your dreams, even if you can’t afford the tuition. Ensure that the school you’re enrolling in qualifies for federal financial aid programs. If it does, you may consider filling the FAFSA form and see what kind of financial assistance programs you qualify to receive. These may include federal grants, loans, or scholarships.

    If you don’t succeed or need more assistance, you may consider applying for private loans, scholarships, grants, or employer tuition settlement programs. 

    What Do the Best Trade School Programs Have in Common?

    Attending a trade school comes with several benefits. First, you spend less time learning your favorite career; second, they are more affordable; and, third, you land employment faster than a graduate who goes through a four-year college or university. 

    However, the benefits do not come without breaking a sweat. It would help if you went into the career college program with a well-thought-out career plan and a strong drive to achieve. Similarly, your success relies heavily on choosing a school with a track record of success and going for the best trade school program. 

    If you’re wondering how you can tell the best program from the rest, here are a few qualities that most rewarding programs have in common.

    • They are high in demand
    • Have a promising job outlook
    • Attract more salary
    • Accredited
    • Need intensive training
    • Very demanding

    How Does the Overall National Ranking of a Trade School Affect Your Future Career Or Salary?

    As a high school graduate, you aim to pursue higher education, gain the necessary knowledge and skills, and then join the job market. That may be one of the reasons why you’re choosing to pursue certificate programs at the vocational or technical school. 

    What you must not forget is ascertaining that your institution of choice has credibility and a success record for its alumni. That’s why you should ensure that the school is accredited by one of the US acknowledged accrediting organizations.

    This step matters since non-accredited schools can cost trade school graduates a future career and earning potentials. For instance, an associate’s degree you receive from a career college should transfer to a traditional college or university and help you pursue further education, like a bachelor’s degree, without having to start afresh. However, the credits from non-accredited schools mostly do not transfer.

    Trade programs pay well in different levels, and the more knowledge you gain, the higher your earning potential. Similarly, employers will mostly trust your abilities more if you studied at a school well-ranked nationally.

    In Summary

    One of the reasons trade schools have gained a lot of traction is that they normally teach various trades. Some of the most famous trades you can learn in trade school include masonry, carpentry, nursing, heavy equipment operating, and plumbing. You can also learn to be a respiratory therapist, a paralegal, an aircraft mechanic, and a web developer.

    Although trade school programs tend to differ greatly, they share many commonalities. One such commonality is that, unlike university programs, these programs are affordable. In the past, many complained of the thousands of dollars demanded by universities as tuition. However, in recent years, the number of such complaints has dwindled as many individuals are motivated to join trade schools.

    Another commonality trade school programs share is that they are not that demanding. While pursuing a trade school program, you can still meet your daily obligations, which cannot be said for traditional university programs.

    There are quite many trade schools in the country. Even though all of them advertise themselves as reliable, this is not always the case. To avoid enrolling at a poorly performing trade school, you must consider certain factors. The factors include the size of a trade school’s classes, the state of its facilities, and its reputation. If your trade school-of-choice has small-sized classes, state-of-the-art facilities, and a good reputation, you can rest assured of leaving it a better person than before you joined it.

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