The debate over attending a four-year college versus going to a trade school has been going on for many years. Trade schools, unfortunately, still carry the stigma of providing a second-rate education.
In reality, a four-year college education doesn’t automatically guarantee a successful career, and the environment and type of learning often found there certainly isn’t for everyone.
Trade schools can provide a smart, viable alternative when choosing an educational path. Here are 7 reasons why you should consider a trade school over a four-year college.
7. It costs less
Way less. Considering that most trade schools offer 2-year programs, you’re paying for two years rather than for four. That’s a no-brainer.
The costs for both private and public colleges have sky-rocketed in the last ten years, and they don’t seem to be coming down anytime soon with most bachelor degrees exceeding $100k. For some, that is a lot of debt to take on early in life. By comparison, lifehacker.com reports that the average trade school degree costs $33,000. Add to that, the two years worth of additional salary you gain by not being in school.
6. Classes are smaller and more focused
For the most part, the first two years at a four-year school are filled with big general education classes covering a broad range of subjects. This is great if you’re looking for a more well-rounded education.
For people looking to become experts in a specific field, a trade school might be a better option since the classes are smaller, have better student-teacher interaction, and they’re geared toward a specific career path. These classes are much more focused, and they can provide a deeper knowledge base in a certain area you wouldn’t necessarily get with a four-year college.
5. Trade Schools can offer a pretty compelling career path
The demand for skilled workers is increasing, especially in the IT, tech, healthcare and manufacturing industries. Employers need workers with high-precision skills, and as the demand for these jobs goes up, so does compensation. Because skilled labor is concentrated in very specific areas, many employers will pay more for that expertise.
According to this article by the Huffington Post, for example, a salary survey by IndustryWeek found that manufacturing managers earned an average salary of $99,643 while the median was $86,000. In fact, CNNMoney.com also reported that manufacturers are begging for more workers trained in advanced manufacturing skills.
4. Trade School graduates find competitive salaries
On average, a trade school graduate will make about $42,000 per year. Over the course of thirty years, the difference between that graduate and the four-year college graduate is only $90,000. Trade school graduates also enter the workforce two years earlier, thereby getting an extra two years worth of salary, as mentioned above.
3. Trade School jobs are harder to export
Many jobs that come from a trade school education aren’t naturally susceptible to being exported due to the nature of the work. Healthcare technicians, carpenters and electricians, for example, are among the most in-demand in the United States. For most of these jobs, their physical presence is required, offering little to no risk of being moved and given to workers in another country.
2. Trade schools can provide job placement assistance
Many employers tend to prefer trade school graduates. Employers know that vocational training equips students with the skills needed to excel in a particular field, especially when they’re looking to fill a position with a specific skillset.
In order to connect skilled workers with employers, many trade schools now offer job placement assistance in the specific industry they’re trained in. This ensures a smooth transition for both the graduate and the employer. Resume writing, interviewing and networking skills are also offered by many trade schools to help new graduates in their job search.
1. Trade schools offer flexible learning
Flexible learning is also becoming more accessible to students in a 4-year environment, however, trade schools are known for their flexible learning options by offering a slew of online classes and evening/night classes. This makes learning easier for students who are already working or who have limited time in their daily schedules to attend physical classes.
The bottom line is that both 4-year colleges and trade schools work best for different reasons, and both options are great in their own way. It really depends on the individual and what path makes the most sense for them.