What Is a Trade School?
A trade school, or vocational school, is a specialized educational institution that focuses on a single skill-based vocation. Read this article to find out more about trade schools and if one would be right for you.
Trade School Definition
A trade school is any post-secondary educational institution that offers training for a specific job. Students attend a trade school program to learn the skills needed for their chosen career path, such as welding, business administration, or computer repair. Trade schools are focused on quickly preparing students to enter the workforce in a skilled trade.
Trade Schools: Program Overview
Trade school programs typically last between two and four years. Their curriculum is primarily focused on a technical job and the skill set it requires. A wide variety of options exist for those interested in attending a trade school. For example, some trade schools cater to personal service and entertainment careers, such as those in culinary arts, film making, music production, radio and television broadcasting. Others have programs in business administration or paralegal studies. Schools for the commercial arts, including graphic or Web design, are also common.
In the area of healthcare, there are trade schools for nursing, radiology technology and other healthcare technology careers. Some schools concentrate on technology like computer technology or mechanical engineering. Students might also attend a trade school to start careers in welding, electrical work, carpentry and furniture upholstery.
Important Facts about Trade Schools
|Career Training||Hands-on; trade-focused instruction|
|Average Debt Compared to Four-Year Degree||Approximately 70% less|
|Median Salary Upon Graduation||$35,720|
Source: The Simple Dollar
Trade School vs. College
Trade schools are focused on providing training for a specific job in the shortest amount of time possible, to quickly prepare students to enter the workforce in their chosen area. In contrast, most college programs are much more general and provide education in a wide range of subject areas, both to help students explore what areas of study might interest them and to build a foundation for more advanced college study. In a trade school, you will study just the subjects you need for the career you want; in college, you will take a broader range of classes in your major area as well as classes in different subject areas.
College may be the right choice for those pursuing a career path that requires a bachelor's degree or who are planning to earn a master's or doctoral degree in the future; trade school may be the right choice for someone wanting to train for a specific job or vocation and who hopes to enter the workforce quickly. The cost of trade school vs. college is also important to consider - the cost of college is typically much higher than that of the average trade school program.
Choosing a Trade School
When choosing a trade school to attend, the first step is to decide on a trade. Trade school programs are very specialized, and entering students must know exactly what career they are pursuing. After deciding on a career path, prospective students can use a search tool, such as the College Matchmaker offered by the College Board, or they can search by geographical location to find a trade school in their area. The College Board suggests that students consider cost, academic requirements, and program format when choosing any school. Students should also make sure that a school is licensed or accredited. Trade organizations often provide lists of respected schools in their specific industry and are a good resource for seeking a quality school.