Trade Schools: Is Trade School Right for You?
After high school, not everyone wants to attend a four-year university. As the cost of college degrees continues to rise, many students see the benefits of attending a trade or vocational school, which provide clear pathways to sustainable careers.
Trade schools offer affordable training and education in practical fields, qualifying students for skilled, well-paying careers immediately after graduation.
What Is a Trade School?
Trade schools, also called career or vocational schools, offer practical training and education to prepare students for skilled careers, such as carpentry or cosmetology.
Trade schools offer practical training and education to prepare students for specific skilled careers.
Trade school programs usually offer certifications that take two years or less to complete. Trade schools may operate as their own independent institutions or they can be nested within two-year technical schools or community colleges.
Academic credits from an accredited trade school may transfer to a two-year or four-year school. Many trade schools are accredited: The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges provides accreditation to trade, career, and vocational schools. However, credits from non-accredited schools usually don't transfer.
Most trade schools accept all prospective students with either a high school diploma or a GED.
What Can You Learn at a Trade School?
Trade school students can typically choose from several trades that lead to many different careers. Specific trades vary by school, but often include carpentry, masonry, electrical and construction management, and automotive technology. Other common offerings include cosmetology, HVAC, and computer-aided drafting and manufacturing.
Vocational schools may also provide training in areas like emergency services, criminal justice, culinary arts, and medical or dental fields.
Examples of Trade School Areas
- Electrical and Construction Management
- Automotive Technology
- Heating, Ventilation, and A/C Systems
- Computer-Aided Drafting and Manufacturing
Investing in Trade School
Vocational programs provide affordable training and practical skills in a short period of time. Trade school graduates often find career opportunities in their desired fields more quickly than four-year college graduates. Trade school costs also tend to be significantly less than the cost of a traditional college or university program.
To experience these benefits, vocational students need to go into their programs with a career plan and the drive to succeed.
Trade School Cost
Trade school costs vary by program, but they are generally more affordable than a traditional university degree because they offer cheaper tuition and require fewer classes to graduate.
Trade students who can find an apprenticeship can get paid while receiving training. The Simple Dollar reports that the average trade school program costs $33,000, compared to $127,000 for the typical bachelor's degree.
Many trade schools qualify for federal financial aid programs, allowing learners to receive federal loans and grants. Prospective trade school students should fill out the FAFSA to find out if they qualify. They can also apply for private loans, scholarships, grants, and employer tuition reimbursement programs.
Is Trade School Right For You?
Many different types of people benefit from trade school. Typical students include recent high school graduates, tradespeople seeking formal training to expand their career opportunities, and professionals who want to change careers and pursue a trade.
Students often choose trade school to gain practical skills in a short period of time and for an affordable price. Many learners who choose trade school like working with their hands to create a tangible product or to offer a useful service.
How to Apply to Trade School
Trade schools typically accept applications year-round and offer open enrollment to all students with either a high school diploma or a GED diploma. Open enrollment increases the chance that most students will be accepted. However, some schools limit the number of students who can enroll in high-demand programs.
Admitted students may need to take a skills assessment or placement test. Some programs also require students to pass drug or criminal background tests.
Local Trade Schools:
1. Laurel Business Institute – Uniontown
2. Fayette Institute of Commerce & Technology, Inc.
3. Douglas Education Center
4. Ross Medical Education Center
5. Laurel Business Institute – Morgantown
6. Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center
7. Triangle Tech
8. Steel Center for Career & Technical Education
9. Rosedale Technical College