Are you a high school senior considering your future career path? Or the parent of an industrious student who’s still figuring things out? Either way, you’re no doubt considering the possibility of applying to a traditional four-year college. But let’s consider that something might be drawing you towards the world of skilled trades. You may have questions or doubts: Are trade schools a viable option? Will they set you or your child up for success in the long run? What benefits do they offer?
And most importantly: are they the right fit for you?
While we can’t make this decision for you, we can certainly provide some insights to help guide your path. Let’s debunk some common myths about trade schools and highlight their many advantages. This might just be the information you need to confidently step into your future.
Busting Myths About Trade School
First, let’s address a common myth: the notion that trade schools are a lesser choice compared to traditional four-year colleges. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Trade schools offer specialized training geared towards specific professions. This focus allows students to dive deep into their chosen field and graduate with a robust set of skills that are in high demand in today’s job market.
Another myth that needs debunking is that trade school graduates earn less than their college-educated counterparts. While earnings can vary greatly depending on the field, many trade school graduates find lucrative careers in areas like healthcare, technology, and skilled trades roles such as electricians or HVAC technicians (i.e., jobs that are somewhat insulated from the AI automation).
The Practical Advantages of Trade School
Trade schools offer a host of practical benefits. The focused training means you spend less time on general education courses and more time honing the skills needed for your future career. Plus, the shorter timeline—most trade school programs last two years or less—allows you to enter the workforce more quickly. This accelerated degree program often results in reduced student debt compared with a traditional college.
Another significant advantage of trade schools is the hands-on learning environment. Unlike traditional college courses, which often revolve around large and impersonal lectures, trade school programs typically offer smaller class sizes and practical, hands-on training. This type of learning environment can be particularly beneficial for those who learn best by doing.
Preparing for Trade School
If you’re considering trade school, it’s important to do your research. Investigate various trade fields to see which ones align with your interests and long-term career goals. Look at the job market in your area (or where you plan to live after graduation) to see what types of skilled trades are in demand. Our home base in the Hudson Valley, for example, has a rising need for construction workers who are steeped in the latest technology—we expect apprenticeships to rise at a commensurate rate in the coming years.
It’s also a good idea to visit trade schools you’re interested in. This will give you a feel for the learning environment and allow you to ask questions about the curriculum, faculty, and job placement services. Like any relationship—academic, professional, or otherwise—it’s good to know that your values line up with those of your chosen place of learning.
Don’t forget the importance of networking, either. Reach out to professionals in your chosen field. Many people are happy to share their experiences and offer advice. Networking can also lead to job opportunities after graduation.
Financial Planning and Scholarship Opportunities
While trade schools can be less expensive than four-year colleges, it’s still important to plan for the costs. Look into financial aid options, including scholarships specifically for trade school students. Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees studying in a field related to their job.
Expanding Your Horizon
Trade schools offer a valuable pathway to rewarding, available careers. They provide focused training, practical experience, and the chance to enter the workforce quickly at a major cost savings. As you consider your post-secondary education options, remember that a successful career doesn’t always require a four-year degree. Trade schools represent a compelling alternative that could lead you to a fulfilling and prosperous future built for stability and growth.