From early in our childhoods, we are encouraged to look forward to going to college. In fact, your parents may consider their own college days to be the best days of their lives. Unfortunately, the college experience is not the same today as it was for our parents’ generation — or any prior, for that matter.
Pursuing a college degree was once viewed as a guarantee for you to find a good job, become successful, and live prosperously. However, getting a bachelor’s degree just doesn’t cut it anymore. It doesn’t necessarily make you competitive in the workplace, and it’s no longer a guarantee of anything other than a large financial debt.
What Is a Trade School?
A trade school, also often called a vocational school, differs from a college education in that it offers technical and hands-on training programs. It typically offers certification in a specialty trade, making you an expert in the field. This enables you to be trained and ready for a specific job in the field of study.
There a number of advantages of why pursuing further education at a trade school may be a more favorable option than attending a traditional college or university. Here are eight reasons why you should consider going to a trade school:
Bachelor’s degrees are designed to be obtained within four years of schooling. The reality of that timescale is it does not account for the rising cost of tuition and a student’s need to work while in school. A more realistic timeframe for many is five to six years to complete an undergraduate program — or more if you take a year off or change your major.
Trade schools have definitive timelines that can span from a couple of months to about two years. It is rare to find a vocational school that requires more than two years to complete. Trade schools recognize a student’s need to work while attending courses and often offer night classes and accommodating schedules to allow you to succeed in the program without disrupting your life — and doing so may even confer some work-study credits as well!
2. Application Process
The application process for universities is often lengthy. In addition to transcripts and test scores, you may also be required to write essays and obtain letters of recommendation from dependable references.
Many vocational schools simply require your personal information, proof of obtaining at least a GED and not much else. They are not nearly as competitive as applying for college; they simply are looking for students that are ready to learn and willing to work hard.
The costs of pursuing an education after high school are not cheap, no matter where you go. The average student will pay $127,000 for a four-year degree college degree. In comparison, the average trade school program costs about $33,000. The numbers speak for themselves: Unless you are lucky enough to come from a wealthy family or one who was good with their financial planning, you are going to personally accrue the debt associated with your schooling — all without guaranteed employment.
4. Class Size
Even if you haven’t attended a course at a university, you have likely seen a Hollywood movie that showcases a college classroom of over 200 students attending a lecture. Colleges and universities pack a lot of students into their classes and generally do not allow for one-on-one time with the professors who teach them.
Trade school classes are much smaller than those at a university. Due to the technical, hands-on training, one-on-one teacher interaction is necessary. It wouldn’t make sense for students working towards a surgery technician certificate to simply read about processes and not be shown how to properly implement them. This in-depth instruction can be invaluable.
5. Meaningful Learning
Traditional schooling relies heavily upon lectures and rote memorization. Once you read the information from the textbook and recite the information on a test, there’s no longer a reason to memorize it. This enables you to only take away snippets of knowledge that you found particularly interesting or of value. The real-world applications of this style of learning are… questionable, to say the least.
Due to the fact that trade schools solely focus on the skillset you are seeking to add to your resume, you will not be wasting your time applying yourself to unnecessary subjects. Your concentration and efforts will directly transfer to your day-to-day job. A combination of traditional classroom learning and hands-on experience is the perfect recipe for obtaining the information laid out by your instructor.
6. Work Experience
Trade schools provide you with valuable hands-on training that can be instrumental in helping you to get a job after you graduate. Trade schools recognize the value of giving you a leg up in the job market by offering specialized training.
For example, for those going into construction, offering specializations such as asbestos removal is currently a booming market. Many people find themselves in need of a contractor when they have to rebuild due to old construction practices, like the use of asbestos in the drywall, which was largely used in construction up through the 1970s.
Trade schools will give you the skills needed to do so. While going through a trade school program, keep your eye out for additional training that may help to launch your career even further.
Coming back to asbestos removal, you need special training to keep yourself and the building occupants safe. There are plenty of old buildings in need of remodeling for the 21st century. Current demand means going to trade school can be worth the investment to perform this service.
Vocational schools offer something that most colleges do not: a guaranteed job. Through partnerships and connections, trade schools sometimes establish agreements with corporations that commit to hiring directly from graduating classes.
Colleges and universities may boast placement programs or high employment rates, but they do not often disclose if their graduates were employed in their field of study or not. Further, being certified in a specific field enables you to be more competitive when applying and interviewing for jobs than those who are not.
8. Networking and Connections
Going to a trade school allows you to immerse yourself into your field of interest and meet others with shared interests. Simply going to school in your area of concentration will expose you to a large number of networking opportunities and additional connections that can lead you towards success.
Although going to a college or university is still a viable option for some, trade schools are an excellent alternative. If you are looking for a more inexpensive, shorter education that will set you up for a successful career, begin your search into your options for a trade school today.
Indiana Lee is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who enjoys writing about personal finance, social justice, and politics. You can find more of her work at on Contently at indianaleewrites.contently.com.
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.