Trade Schools

Trade Schools

Trade schools are career and technical education programs for trades, such as plumbing and welding. Instead of earning a degree, students learn hands-on career skills and earn certifications. Trade schools are a popular alternative to college, and they tend to cost much less. Trade programs often include apprenticeships, which last anywhere from six months to five years. If you’re looking for a job training program that doesn’t require college or a college degree, consider a trade school. 

Trade schools are a proven alternative to college. These programs have been around for decades and provide education to tens of thousands of Americans each year. Trade schools cover a wide range of job options and are an increasingly popular way to launch a high-paying career.

Trade schools often cost less than a college degree. These programs are popular among students who want to avoid excessive student debt. However, loans for trade schools are still available.

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The most popular trade school programs are automotive repair, plumbing, electrical work, machining, and carpentry.

However, the increased popularity of other programs (such as coding and information technology) provide additional opportunities for students looking for careers in growing industries. 

Trade schools are job training programs that focus on hands-on technical careers.

Trade schools are often less expensive than a four-year university.

Many trade schools help students find apprenticeships.

Trade schools have reasonable admissions standards.

Trade school can prepare students for a high-paying career.

What is a Trade School?

A trade school is a career education program for trades. These programs train electricians, plumbers, linemen, mechanics, and other technical workers. Trade schools are popular for recent high school graduates, but people of all ages attend these programs.

Trade School Benefits

Trade schools have numerous benefits, especially for individuals with no formal career education. Trade schools can prepare students for high paying jobs; many of which have the potential to pay $75,000 per year or more. Additionally, trade school students can save a significant amount of tuition money (when compared to four-year university students). Students with an interest in hands-on work benefit from trade schools.  

Why Choose a Hands-On Career?

Some people simply enjoy working with their hands. If you’re one of those people, there’s no reason not to capitalize on it. Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs put it bluntly:

“I think a trillion dollars of student loans and a massive skills gap are precisely what happens to a society that actively promotes one form of education as the best course for the most people. I think the stigmas and stereotypes that keep so many people from pursuing a truly useful skill, begin with the mistaken belief that a four-year degree is somehow superior to all other forms of learning.”

It’s true, there is a massive skills gap. And that’s why there are thousands of high-paying jobs available to students with a trade school education. Welders, mechanics, plumbers, and electricians often start their own businesses. Some make more than $100,000 annually, and their trade school education was perhaps the most important factor to their success.

Are trade schools accredited? There isn’t a simple yes or no answer to this question, as it depends on the trade and the state. For example, truck driving schools are accredited to provide Class A and B commercial driver’s license (CDL) training by whichever state they operate in. Other programs, such as electrician schools, may be certified or accredited by state agencies as well. Mechanics programs go either way, with some schools authorized to provide ASE certification (and others not). It’s usually a good idea to find programs with accreditation, though it may be entirely unnecessary depending on the field. 

One of the great things about trade schools is that they equip students with skills that are useful virtually everywhere and all the time. Cars always need repair, wiring always needs to be brought up to code, and powerlines always need fixing; recession or not. Generally speaking, trade schools do not offer job placement guarantees. Though some programs do, and others offer apprenticeship matching to get the ball rolling.

Trade school admissions vary between programs. Generally speaking, there aren’t any ultra-stringent admissions requirements, and few academic requirements when compared to four-year universities. However, some programs require general education to be completed prior to attending field-related courses. Others have prerequisite requirements such as work experience or introductory courses. 

Trade school curriculum varies between programs. Most trade schools utilize classroom learning and hands-on training. Some courses even include general education courses which cover subjects such as language, mathematics, and business. Trade schools focus primarily on ‘shop’ classes and technical skill training, though some element of conceptual in-class learning is present at almost all trade schools. 

On average, trade school costs between $3,500 to $14,000 per year. The cost depends on a variety of factors. For example, public trade schools (such as those hosted by community colleges) tend to be significantly less expensive than private trade schools (stand-alone institutions specifically for trades). Other programs, such as company-sponsored trade schools, are often entirely free as long as you sign a contract with the company. Company education contracts usually require students to either pay for the program outright or work for the company, usually for a period not exceeding three years.

Scholarships for Trade Schools

Trade schools are a great way to save money on education, and scholarships are an even better way to save money on trade schools. Trade school scholarships work similarly to bootcamp and college scholarships and are usually awarded based on merit. Each scholarship sets its own eligibility requirements, but most students (especially those with experience) should qualify for something. Additionally, many companies will pay for your education if you agree to work for them after graduation. C.R. England, for example, will cover the cost of your CDL training if you agree to drive for them for a certain amount of time after. Such programs reduce the barrier-of-entry to technical training and often make it well worth the time spent getting certified. 

Loans and Financing for Trade Schools

Many lenders offer loans and financing for trade school programs. Additionally, some schools offer in-house financing or payment plans. Due to the reduced expense of trade schools (compared to colleges), schools can generally afford to offer proprietary financing. Students can often pay down (or pay off) the cost of their trade school education within a couple years of finding a job, or perhaps even sooner. 

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