For some students, going to college is not the desired outcome. Some students want to have key skills that allow them to do a specific job. In this case, trade schools may be a consideration. Beyond a doubt trade schools offer a variety of benefits to students, but understanding how they could meet your need is your first step. What is a Trade School? Sometimes called a technical school, it is a type of post-secondary education institution. It has the specific goal of teaching a student the necessary skills to do a specific type of job, often called a skilled career. Many times, a trade school provides hand-on skill education that may enable a student to prepare for the actual work they are likely to do when they enter their field of choice. Many times, a trade school teaches just the necessary skills needed for the skilled trade the student hopes to work in for their career or future job. This means they do not typically offer education in fields that do not directly offer this benefit. For example, they may not offer any education in advanced math topics or history for a job that relates to nursing or technology unless those courses specifically need the information presented within those areas. How Do Trade Schools Work? A trade school differs from a traditional 4-year college or university because it provides very career-specific skill education. Often, a student earns their high school diploma or equivalent and then applies for a trade school. Many offer lower admission requirements than found in a typical 4-year college setting. Students enroll for a period of time, often a few months to a few years, work through the set of required classes, and finish any necessary exams and licensing to enter the workforce. The length of the educational track depends on what the student is learning, but programs may be as short as 8 months to as long as 2 years. During their education, students finish various courses, which typically include hands-on learning of the skills necessary that are likely applicable within their future career. What Could You Learn at Trade School? Students here could learn the entry-level and beyond skills needed to do the work within the field they desire. Many programs include opportunities for students to gain experience working with the technology, equipment, tools, and other components of the job so they are able to apply those skills directly to the work environment once they graduate. These skills range widely based on the career path selected. The learning methods in trade school are just as varied as they could be in a traditional college setting. Some courses and classes are lectures where vital information is presented to the student. Other times, students learn in a lab environment, working on the same or similar equipment that may be used later in the field. Even in trade schools that offer online learning paths, the methods of learning vary based on what the student needs to graduate with in order to do the work. Students considering this school may wish to understand as much as possible about the courses and program itself. What is taught? How is the material presented? Is the school aligned with the local industry trends and needs? Types of Trade Schools A number of trade schools exist, each one with a different focus for the student. Each one teaches the skills necessary for a different field. It may be great for students to focus on areas that interest them and work they enjoy doing. Other students may want to explore a few different trade schools to meet their needs. Here are some examples of the different types of trades out there. The availability and scope of each program may differ from one program to the next: Automotive technicians Motorcycle mechanicsCNC machining Collision repair BusinessCriminal justice Dental hygieneHVAC Healthcare administrationPhotographyCosmetologyCulinaryMassage therapy Software engineeringVideographyMedical assistingInformation technologyMarine technology How does trade school differ from college? Trade schools differ from colleges in numerous ways including what they teach, the length of programs, the cost, and other factors. For those considering attending a trade school, it may be helpful to consider the time commitment, the flexibility of educational programs, and the hands-on education provided in these schools as this differs significantly from traditional collect education.] Consider a few of the differences between a trade school and a college: Program Length: Many college programs are 2 to 4 years in length with some requiring graduate or higher education. Trade school programs typically take 8 months to 2 years to finish instead, making them a faster way to achieve desired education. Some programs are even shorter. Educational Content: Colleges and universities teach at a holistic level, meaning they teach not just the subject matter needed to do a job, but also supplemental and even unrelated but well-rounded content. A trade school does not. It teaches very specific content that relates directly to what the student may due when they graduate school and pursue a career in the field. Learning Style: Though some colleges and universities apply a hands-on educational model, trade schools typically do so more heavily, depending on the type of coursework needed.Costs: The cost of trade school may be lower than the total cost of college education such as earning a bachelor’s. Data indicates that, the average cost of a trade school program is $33,000, while the average cost of a bachelor’s is $132,000. Also note that a trade school may differ somewhat from a vocational school, too. The term vocational school typically applies to a set of courses taken in a specific vocation. Students who finish these programs may enter directly into a field of study. It is somewhat the same as a traditional trade school program. Some vocational programs occur during high school while trade schools are a type of post-secondary education instead. How much could I make from going to trade school? The among a person could earn differs based on the field of study and the workforce demand in that area. Trade school career paths are quite varied from healthcare to technology to HVAC work. This, along with factors such as where a person lives, how well they apply those skills, and the overall demand for those skills contribute to what they may earn once they leave the field. Take a look at some positions that may be available to those who earn a certificate or program from a trade school and how much they may earn: Career Median Salary Welding 47,010.00Automotive Technology 46,880.00Diesel Technology $ 48,690.00 Collision Repair $ 47,020.00 CNC Machining $ 47,940.00 Motorcycle Mechanics $ 39,050.00 HVACR $ 48,630.00 Information Technology $ 57,910.00 Dental Hygienists $ 77,810.00 Criminal Justice $ 66,020.00 Photography $ 38,950.00 Cosmetology $ 29,680.00 Culinary $ 50,160.00 Massage Therapy $ 46,910.00 How Long Does Trade School Take? The length of time a student spends in trade school may range from 8 months to 2 years. There are some programs that a student may be able to finish within a much shorter time, even just a few months. Typically, these programs do not extend beyond 2 years. The length of time a student is in the program may be dependent on factors such as: What they are learning Any educational requirements set by licensing programs for that field, such as a state requiring 2 years of education or the finishing a series of courses The school learning method, some online programs may be shorter than in-person programs The amount of content to coverAvailability of the student, some may attend part time while others attend full time Many programs provide an estimated time for finishing the program. Students typically follow a class-by-class type of format in which one course builds on the next until they earn they graduate. What are the benefits of a trade school? The benefits depends on the student’s interests and goals, but many times, these programs cost less, provide more hands-on education and skill building, and offer access to jobs after graduating. Some students may also benefit from easier admissions requirements and more specific education. Take a look at some of the benefits of going to a trade school: Costs: As noted, education here may cost less in some fields. Though it may be important to compare bachelor’s and trade school costs based on the specific goals of the student, typically, trade school education is more affordable, making it more within reach to students. Financial aid may be available: Many trade schools work to help support the needs of students by offering financial aid. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The amount and type of aid depends on the school, program, and available funding.It’s faster: For students that do not want to spend a lot of time in a college setting and want to get to work sooner, a trade school may prove to be a better solution. Certificate programs from trade schools could be earned within 8 months, and sometimes less, much unlike the 4 years necessary for many colleges to earn a bachelor’s. Easier admissions: Colleges often have numerous requirements including factors such as GPA requirements, entrance exam scores, referrals, and recommendations. Many trade schools do not require this but instead have more flexible and easier-to-meet requirements.Hands-on learning: Some students learn more efficiently and effectively using the hands-on methods often used in this school. This may also include time spent in the work environment through local businesses gaining experience. Sometimes the benefit of trade school is earning the education needed for the specific career desired. For example, if you love to style hair, a trade school provides many or all of the education needed.