What Is a Trade School? Here’s A Simple Plain English Answer

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What Is a Trade School

If you need to get some skills and knowledge to get a job you like but don’t feel like enrolling in a traditional four-year program, you should consider enrolling in trade-school training.

In fact, it is a great option for those who need to get some important skills so they can start working as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ve prepared for you some facts about trade schools, their advantages, and disadvantages, as well as comparison with some other educational facilities that offer higher education training.

What Is a Trade School?

A trade school is also known as a vocational school, tech school or a vocational college.

It is a post-secondary education institution that offers training programs for those who want to get some specific skills and get a certain job.

UEI, Chamberlain Universities, and American Career College are perfect examples of trade schools.

You can find both public and for-profit trade schools.

Applying for a trade school program, you can get training in such spheres as nursing and health science, information technologies, medical assisting, and automotive technologies, and so on.

There is a variety of programs that differ in their length however you usually need from 8 months to 2 years to complete your training.

After completing your training at a trade school, you won’t have a bachelor’s degree.

In most cases, it grants you with a diploma or a certificate that confirms the fact that you’ve completed your education successfully.

In some cases, you can even obtain an associate’s degree applying for a training program at a trade school.

What Can You Do With a Degree From a Trade School?

If you already decided on your future career, a trade school is great option as it allows you to enroll in a job right after training completion.

In other words, as soon as you complete a dental assisting program you can start working as a dental assistant.

Just remember that all these programs offered at trade schools aim to prepare you for a certain career.

There are lots of career options for those interested in trade school education.

Among the most popular options there are:

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Differences Between Vocational Schools, Community Colleges, and Universities

Deciding on your education and future career, you need to learn about the differences between community colleges, trade schools, and four-year colleges.

Below, we’ve described each type of various educational facilities and their main features.

Trade Schools

When it comes to the shortest training programs, trade schools are the best options.

Usually, there are programs that last about 1-2 years.

While most community and four-year colleges are public institutions, most trade schools are for-profit organizations.

These programs mainly aim to provide students with some hands-on experience in a specific sphere.

After completing a program, students can obtain a diploma or a certificate and enroll in a licensing exam.

Also, they can become journeymen or apprentices in a skilled trade.

Moreover, it is easy to enroll in one of the programs you are interested in.

It should be mentioned that most trade schools have no extracurricular involvement or on-campus culture.

In other words, students just visit classes and nothing else.

See our list of the top 500 trade schools in the U.S. >>>

Community Colleges

Applying for a community college, you can obtain an associate’s degree just in 2 years.

It should be mentioned that most community colleges are public organizations.

However, there are private facilities as well and they are usually known as junior colleges.

As well as a trade school, community college offers diploma and certificate training programs for those who want to get training in a specific sphere like cosmetology or nursing.

Admission to this type of educational facility is open for most people who want to get their training.

When it comes to college education, community colleges offer the cheapest training programs.

An average tuition fee at a public community college is usually about $3 570 while it is about $9 970 at 4-year colleges.

Applying for a trade school program, you need to pay about $34 740 for your whole training course.

It should be mentioned that community colleges usually offer a wider range of programs than trade schools.

At the same time, in comparison with 4-year colleges, the number of options is lower.

Moreover, these educational facilities have clubs, sports teams, on-campus residents however most students attend it only for classes.

One other important point is that you can transfer your credits from a community college to a 4-year college.

Considering the fact, lots of students give preference to community colleges so they can transfer to a traditional college while reducing expenses.

If you are interested in this option, just make sure that your credits can be transferred.

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Four-Year Colleges

Four-year colleges can be both public and private and also there is a whole variety of non-profit facilities.

Successful completion of a training program offered by a 4-year college, you can obtain a bachelor’s degree.

In comparison to trade schools and community colleges, 4-year colleges offer the highest degree.

It is an important point as a bachelor’s degree can provide you with a higher salary than diplomas of trade schools and community colleges.

Also, if you want to continue your education at a professional school like medical, law, or dental schools, a bachelor’s degree is required.

Despite having pre-professional programs, they are mainly focused on academic aspects.

When it comes to social opportunities, four-year colleges are the best.

There is a variety of sports teams, clubs, sororities, fraternities, campus traditions, guest speakers.

Also, most students of 4-year colleges tend to live on campus.

Four-year colleges can be public or private, and the vast majority are non-profit.

Benefits of Attending a Trade School Over a Four-Year College

Trade school training can have lots of great benefits.

The main benefit is that you need a little time to complete a program provided by a trade school.

In fact, you need about two years to complete your training at a trade school.

At the same time, community college training lasts for 2 years and traditional college training usually takes 4 years.

Sometimes, you may even need to spend 5 or 6 years on your training.

Spending less time on your training, you can focus on getting more experience so you can advance your career faster.

Also, it is a great option for those with a small budget as you don’t need to pay tuition for many years.

One other great benefit of trade schools is that you can get lots of hands-on training in the sphere you are interested in.

When it comes to four-year colleges they are mainly focused on academic and scholarly issues.

For example, if you have a degree in philosophy or theatre, you can have difficulties with your job search as it is hard to identify what jobs are related to these majors.

At the same time, trade school programs pay attention exactly to those disciplines you need for your future career.

As trade school programs aim to provide students with some certain set of skills they may need for their jobs, it is easier to obtain the first job.

Moreover, most programs provided by trade schools offer training in the spheres that are in great demand.

Lots of these careers are pretty fruitful and can provide you with a great salary.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that dental hygienists have a median salary of about $74 070 annually.

At the same time, four-year college graduates can expect a starting salary of about $50 516 per year.

Finally, trade schools tend to have a simple application process which means you don’t need to deal with lots of issues.

When it comes to four-year colleges, their application procedures usually require lots of time and money.

Also, you don’t need to take the SAT/ACT, worry about your grades, choosing some clubs and so on.

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Disadvantages of Attending a Trade School

Trade schools have not only some great benefits there is a bunch of disadvantages as well.

Of course, trade schools have some financial benefits but college graduates tend to earn more than others.

College Scorecard claims that students that receive financial aid for 10 years after graduation from American Career College in Los Angeles, earn about $31 800 per year.

UCLA graduates tend to earn about $60 700 per year.

Despite the need to spend more time and money on your training, you have an opportunity to get a higher income.

Also, if you need some financial aid to pay for your training, four-year colleges tend to offer better options.

For example, after obtaining some financial aid at West Coast University in Anaheim, you need to pay about $47 939.

At the same time, at CSU Long Beach, you need to pay about $9 733.

Also, trade schools cannot provide you with some college experience.

Most trade schools don’t provide on-campus culture as well as a variety of social interactions.

At the same time, four-year colleges have different clubs, parties, events, sports teams, Greek houses, dorms and so on.

It is a great way to get some amazing memories as well as useful skills and knowledge.

Being a student of traditional college, you have an opportunity to visit classes by famous politicians and academics.

Moreover, there are classes outside of the classroom and interact with different students.

When it comes to trade schools, they mainly focus on career and work issues so most lectures are held inside the classroom.

Moreover, applying for traditional college training, you have an opportunity to get a more broad education.

When it comes to trade schools, as we’ve mentioned before, training programs there are more specialized and oriented on a certain job.

In fact, traditional colleges offer a wide variety of subjects.

You have an opportunity to learn a bunch of disciplines outside your major.

For example, you can apply for an American Studies major that is an interdisciplinary science focused on the USA.

Your major subjects’ list may include sociology, education, religion, history, psychology, and political science.

At the same time, you can learn human biology, statistics, anthropology, and a foreign language outside your majors.

In other words, traditional colleges – it is a great opportunity not only to get ready for your future career but also develop some skills like critical thinking.

In such a way, you can become a great professional and an informed citizen that can have a positive impact on the surrounding community.

Also, traditional colleges provide you with more flexibility when it comes to career choice.

Applying for a trade school, you get prepared for a very specific job while traditional colleges grant you access to a wide range of job options if you have a bachelor’s degree.

In other words, enrolling in a medical assistant training program at a trade school, you’ll get the knowledge and skills required only for this career.

If one day you decide to change your career, you’ll be obliged to enroll in another training option as you won’t be able to obtain a job outside of your sphere.

At the same time, when it comes to a traditional college degree, you have many career options to consider.

There are majors in sales, education and consulting that can provide you with a variety of jobs.

Moreover, after obtaining a degree at a traditional college, you can continue your education at a graduate, law, or medical school.

And, in most cases, an advanced degree can grant you a bigger income as well as more job security.

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Should You Go to a Trade School or a Four-Year College?

As you understand, there are some important points you need to consider while making this decision.

Of course, if you have such an opportunity, it is better to give preference to a 4-year college.

It is a great way to expand your career prospects and have some exciting life experience while having an active on-campus life.

Moreover, it is a great way to get more flexibility and to increase your earning potential.

Speaking of trade schools, it is a great choice for those who cannot spend much time and money on their training.

Also, you can apply for it if you are 100% sure what job you’d like to do in your future.

Of course, there are students that don’t feel like enrolling in some traditional schooling.

For example, they can have problems with some subjects as they detest traditional tasks and prefer smth more active and creative.

If you are sure that you want to work as an automotive technician, a trade school can be a better option than a traditional college.

In such a way, you’ll be able to learn everything you need for your future job without wasting time on general subjects.

A trade school is also a perfect option for those who cannot apply for a traditional college program because of grades and scores.

Just make sure to check the acceptance rates at those colleges you want to apply for.

If you don’t meet the requirements it doesn’t mean you need to give up on your desire to get some professional training.

After attending a community college, you always have an opportunity to transfer to a traditional college and continue your training.

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How to Find the Right Vocational School for You

If you’ve decided to apply for a trade school training program, you need to find a school that suits your needs most of all.

There are 3 steps that can help you to accomplish this task,

#1: Make Sure the Trade School Offers the Program You Want

If a school doesn’t offer the program you are interested in, nothing else matters.

In other words, first of all, you need to check whether there is a required program.

You need to be sure that there is a program or a certificate you’d like to obtain in order to avoid problems after your graduation.

Adress admission counselors to find out what jobs you can apply for after obtaining your certificate.

#2: Make Sure the Trade School Has a Good Reputation

School’s reputation is very important for your career prospects as your potential employers need to be sure that you’ve obtained some good training.

Learn about your school’s accreditation, read some reviews and ask current and former students for their opinion about a school and programs offered there.

There are lots of vocational schools that are known as diploma mills that make you spend lots of money without providing you with a good education.

To avoid this, you need to make proper research beforehand.

#3: Make Sure You Can Manage the Costs and Schedule

Of course, it is important to make sure that you can pay all the tuition to complete your training.

If you have problems with it, check available financial aid programs.

Also, you need to check whether the class schedule meets your own one so you can avoid skipping classes.

A school should have info about how much time every week you need to spend on your classes.

After learning the school’s schedule, make sure you’ll be able to manage it even if you have a part-time job or some family issues that make take your time.

How to Apply to a Trade School

If you want to apply for a trade school, you need to know that an application process is pretty simple.

In most cases, you just need to complete an application form online or contact the school’s representatives to get all the info you need.

Don’t forget about the application deadlines.

While you can apply for training almost at any time, the training program itself will be available only at a certain period.

After completing an application form, you may be asked to participate in a short interview with admissions representatives.

In most cases, it is an informal conversation that aims to help you find the program you like.

Most trade schools have open enrollment instead of a selective one.

Also, applying for a trade school training, it is likely you don’t need to provide the SAT/ACT and write an admission essay.

Moreover, any recommendations and extracurricular activities don’t matter when it comes to trade schools.

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What’s Next?

Now you know all the important info about trade school including the difference between this type of education facilities and community and traditional colleges.

Just make sure to consider this info while making a decision and you’ll be able to make the right choice.

In any case, it is up to which options to choose and the only thing that matters is whether it will work for you.

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