What Is Trade School and Is It Right for You?


If you’ve ever wanted to know the answer to the question, “What is trade school?” then you’re in the right place! 


With the various types of postsecondary education, your options can become confusing and overwhelming. You may be considering getting an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, trade school diploma, certification, or technical school diploma. To help you better understand whether or not trade school is right for you, we’ll cover everything you need to know, starting with the basics.



Source: Unsplash



What is Trade School?


Trade school is an educational institution that students can attend after high school (or with the completion of a GED). The education is specifically designed to prepare students to enter the workforce in certain professions by providing hands-on job training. 


These highly focused courses help students hone technical skills for various trades. Certain schools may focus on a single area of expertise or possibly combine the two, like welding and HVAC training. Upon completion of a trade school program, students obtain a diploma or trade school certificate (not a degree like one earns at college or university). 



How Do Trade Schools Work?


Trade schools differ from colleges and universities in many ways, including the programming. When students enroll in degree programs, they are required to take general education courses and fulfill a certain number of electives. 


Trade schools require neither. This is because trade schools are entirely focused on teaching the skills students need for a job or trade. Since there are no extra classes required, trade school often takes less time than college. 



How Long is Trade School?


Trade school varies in length depending on the trade. However, you can expect trade school to last anywhere from 8 months to 2 years to complete. 


In many instances, for those looking to fill entry-level positions, trade school may only take a year or less. 



What are the Benefits of Trade School?


For a person who knows they want to enter a technical or mechanical field, then trade school offers an efficient path to get there. Every class and assignment is tailored to prepare students directly for the job they wish to obtain. 


One of the major benefits of trade school is the amount of flexibility a student has. Trade schools are generally designed to have students in and out as quickly as possible so that they can continue with their life’s responsibilities, be it raising a family or getting a job. 


Additionally, trade schools don’t require the often stressful application process that many colleges call for. For starters, you don’t have to take the SAT or ACT and submit your results. You also won’t be required to have the best grades or have been part of multiple extracurricular activities to boost your application. 


Instead, in most cases, you’ll pay a single fee to apply and enroll. The school will probably ask for your proof of high school education, by way of a diploma or GED. 


Trade school is also a more cost-effective solution when compared to other forms of post-secondary education. Now you’re probably wondering, how much is trade school? The cost will vary based on the trade, location, and length of the program. 


The average cost of a trade school education is $33,000. You can compare that to most four-year colleges, which cost about that much on average for just a single year. 


(Keep in mind: there are alternative and more affordable colleges out there. Take the University of the People for one, where we offer online and tuition-free programs so our degrees are much more cost-effective than alternative private and public institutions). 



What Careers Can You Enter with Trade School Diplomas?


If you’re looking to work in a profession that requires a bachelor’s or graduate degree, then that will definitely shut the door on the option of trade school. 


But, if you want to work in any of these following fields, then a certificate or diploma from a trade school will be able to take you to where you want to go:


  • Electrician 
  • Plumber
  • Paralegal
  • Baker
  • Yoga instructor
  • Florist 
  • Automotive technician 
  • Hairdresser 
  • Chef
  • Cosmetologist
  • Aircraft mechanic
  • Computer technician
  • Massage therapist
  • Pharmacy technician 
  • Marine mechanic
  • Welder 
  • Masseuse 
  • Dental hygienist 
  • Construction manager 


It’s important to remember that with a trade school diploma or certification, you can only use it to enter the field in which you’ve studied. 


On the other hand, a degree from a college or university may provide you with more career opportunities since they involve general education and a wider range of coursework. 


This is why it’s paramount to know what you want to do with a trade school degree because the coursework is very specific for a particular job title. 



Trade School vs. Vocational School vs. Technical School


When considering trade school, other similar options will appear that are slightly nuanced from trade schools. 


To declutter and clear the confusion, here’s the differences between trade school, vocational school, and technical school.


  • Trade school: Trade school teaches hands-on skills so learners can enter entry-level positions or cover a certain number of on-the-job hours needed to qualify for jobs. 


  • Technical school: Technical schools blend on-the-job training with classroom learning to grant certifications and/or associate degrees. Depending on the institution, a technical school may also involve more general education, along with the focus on job-specific learning.  


  • Vocational school: Vocational school is a broad umbrella term that covers both technical schools and trade schools. 



Is Trade School For Me?


Now that you know the answer to the question “what is a trade school,” you can make the decision that’s in your future’s best interest. 


If you’re set on pursuing a career from the above list, or a different career that calls for a trade school certification, then trade school is a great way to move forward. Trade school typically requires less investment of both time and money when compared to a traditional college education. 


Alternatively, if you’d like to reap the same benefits of the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of trade school, but be able to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree instead, then consider an online college degree. If you have questions about our program offerings (Education, Health Science, Computer Science, and Business Administration) at the University of the People, feel free to get in touch today to learn more. 



You might also be interested in: