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How to Choose a Trade School That Suits Your Needs

Congratulations on your high school graduation!

Have you decided what to do with your future?

Trade schools are becoming popular among graduates and others looking to pave a new career path, especially with the cost of college climbing.

But what is a trade school, and why should you consider it?

Let’s take an in-depth glance at vocational school and why this could be a great career choice.

What is a Trade School?

A trade school, sometimes called a vocational school or career college, is a school that teaches a particular trade, unlike a traditional college that carries a broad range of degrees and programs. Vocational schools focus on the trade you choose, often with hands-on training.

Some examples of programs offered at different vocational schools are:

This list is in no way exhaustive, as the demand for trade jobs is growing. Each school has its own set of degree or certificate programs.

Is Trade School For Me?

A trade school is a good option if you’re fresh out of high school and unsure about your career path. This option can be faster and less expensive than a four-year university.

For adults, trade schools are perfect for those who want a career change without spending time in a four-year college or university or want to enter the workforce after a lengthy hiatus. The flexibility of class schedules is attractive to adults with families and full-time positions.

A vocational school also benefits those who want more education in their field or to advance in their skills. Before you entertain trade school, ask your employer if they provide on-the-job training. Also, find out if they have a tuition reimbursement program.

Trade School vs. Traditional College


One key difference between a trade school and a traditional college is cost. On average, a four-year degree could cost a student $127,000 (excluding the financing costs!) or more for an in-state college and almost double that amount for an out-of-state institution. The price increases when considering a private college. The price of a vocational school is about a fourth of the average college tuition, or about $30,000 to $40,000, depending on the industry of study.

Landing a job can be easier after graduation from a trade school because the skills you will obtain are specific to the trade. Many traditional college graduates find it challenging to land a training-related job. Jobs considered trades are being added to the job market, making them higher demand opportunities.


A student will spend roughly four years completing a college degree at a traditional institution. The length of a vocational school is typically around one to two years. This means that the student will likely enter the workforce quicker when graduating from a trade school.

How to Choose A Trade School

So you want to try vocational school! What now? Follow these steps to help you find the trade school that’s right for you.

Decide Your Area of Focus

If you’ve already got a plan and a trade chosen, congrats! This is a big part of the decision-making process.

If you’re unsure, research some trades or take a career or personality test to see which one might suit you best.


Accreditation is important because it ensures the learning facility follows standards relating to curriculum and faculty. This ensures the legitimacy of your degree or certificate.

What’s Their Reputation?

Do some research on the trade schools you are interested in and find out the reputation within your chosen industry. Do students get hired often from that college into the field? Is this the best choice for education in this trade? Are there any or several complaints about the school?

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate refers to how many students who started have graduated from the trade school’s programs. A high graduation rate could indicate a successful staff and school.

A low graduation rate can mean different things, such as the program not being sufficient or the student changing their minds. Inquire about these with the staff.

Cost And Financial Assistance

Find out the cost of each vocational school you’re considering. This should include not only tuition costs but books and other materials. Knowing this upfront can make a simple choice, and you’ll have a number in mind when tackling your student loans if you need them.

Check with the administration about the process of applying for financial aid.

Job Placement Assistance

Ask questions about the job placement rate and if the trade school helps you find employment after graduation.

Class Sizes

Students may learn better in smaller environments due to the instructor being more available to each student. Finding out the ratio of students to the instructor can help you understand how classes function.


Does the school offer labs so that you can learn hands-on skills?

Other Services

It may interest you to know if there are other services the school provides besides education. Find out if there are any and if they’re relevant to you.

Ready to Apply to Trade School?

Choosing a career is an exciting and intimidating process, but trade schools can make that process easier. Ready to apply? With over 35 years of experience, InterCoast Colleges helps people towards a better career with friendliness and professionalism. Request more information about how InterCoast can help train you in a new career.

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Jeff Wilcox
Jeff Wilcox
4 years ago

I like the tip that you gave to choose a trade school with a good reputation. My wife and I have been talking about finding a trade school for our son, and it would be important for us to know that we could find one that will be best for us. If we decide to find a trade school, I will be sure to look for one that has a good reputation.

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