Trade schools are suddenly being pushed onto high school students after years of hearing a college degree is the only way to succeed. Many students are left in a state of confusion when trying to decide between trade school vs college.
Both trade schools and colleges are great career starters, depending on your career goals. Read on to find out what trade schools are, and what the difference is between trade school vs college.
What Is a Trade School?
Trade schools, often called vocational schools, are designed to train students for a specific career path. For example, electricians, hairstylists, and mechanics all attend trade schools to learn the ins and outs of their careers. Trade schools offer direct programs for those who know exactly what they want to do and don’t want to spend time in college taking courses outside of their specialty.
It used to be the case that trade schools were looked down upon and meant for those who were not smart enough to attend college. While that has never been the case, we are finally seeing that mindset change. People are beginning to realize that a college degree is not the only path to success and trade schools are being advertised to high school students as a great career option.
Differences Between Trade Schools vs Colleges
While trade schools and colleges are both viable paths to getting an education, there are a few major differences between the two. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but simply that the paths are very different and suit certain people better. When deciding between the two options, be sure to consider the following differences.
It is a well-known fact that college degrees are expensive. In fact, in the United States, college students spend an average of $27,500 to $50,000 for a bachelor’s degree at a public institution.
In community colleges, tuition is much lower. But, for those attending the more prestigious private schools, these numbers only go higher. Many students end up spending well over $100,000 for a four-year degree.
On the other hand, trade schools cost students an average of $33,000. While the education received in a trade school is significantly different from what you would receive in a college environment, this price difference can be significant for many in deciding which path to take. Saving thousands of dollars is no joke, and if you are interested in learning a trade, this is a fantastic way to save.
Time to Graduate
When attending any college for a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to spend around four years studying to earn your degree. Many students can complete courses online or sometimes on-campus in fast track programs to earn their degrees faster, but this usually only knocks 12 to 18 months off of the study time.
Trade schools are a bit less uniform. Most vocational schooling takes five years or less to complete, but there are many trades you can study that take significantly less time. For example, learning electrical or HVAC-repair often takes students less than a year to complete. There are other programs, such as music engineering and production, that can be completed in as little as 10 months.
Trade School vs College Coursework
College students know that earning a degree involves taking courses that have nothing to do with your area of study. The first year or two of a degree is often spent completing general education requirements and there are always plenty of elective courses to work on throughout a degree.
Trade schools, on the other hand, spend all of their time focusing solely on the area of study. If you attend a trade school to become a police officer, all of your education will be about the career field. The same goes for every other area of study, no time is wasted on general classes.
The careers you can get with a college degree are different than those you can get with a trade school certification. While some careers can be started with either a trade school education or a college education, such as web development, many require one or the other.
For college graduates, there is often a broader job market. For example, someone who earns a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science may find job opportunities in software testing, web development, information security analysis, and so many other areas. For someone who earns a certificate in web development, that is generally the only option. This can make it easier for trade school graduates to find employment as their education is more specialized.
While teaching and learning styles are not often taken into consideration when determining the best path, it can be significant for many students. In college environments, there are typically larger class sizes and education is based on lectures and PowerPoint presentations. This type of education is best for those with visual and auditory learning styles.
Those who do best with hands-on learning may find the teaching style in trade schools to be a better fit. Most of trade school education is centered on a hands-on approach and avoids long lectures. The class sizes are also typically smaller, allowing students more one-on-one learning time.
Conclusion: Should I Attend Trade School or College?
Deciding between a college and trade school can be a difficult decision, but by weighing the pros and cons of each option, you will be able to determine the best fit for you. If you can spend more time and money on your education and wish to have a more broad education, a college degree may be your best bet. But, if you want to finish your education at a low cost and as soon as possible, a trade school may suit you better.
Either way, finishing your education is a huge accomplishment that you should be proud of. Both educations are equally impressive and useful, and as long as you choose the option that is best suited for you, you are sure to be successful.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.