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What Is a Trade School and Is It Right for Me? A Guide

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

You’ve reached that point in your life where you’re supposed to start applying for all the universities you can, but what if that doesn’t feel quite right?

Don’t worry. A four-year university isn’t your only option for postsecondary education. Instead, you may choose to enroll at a trade school.

What is a trade school? We’ve put together this guide to help you answer that question, so make sure you keep reading below to get started!

What Is a Trade School?

A trade school, or vocational school, teaches students specific trade skills required for certain technical or mechanical trades. For example, a person might attend a vocational school if they are interested in becoming a:

  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Car mechanic 
  • Welder 
  • IT technician 
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Mental health rehabilitation technician 
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Carpenter 
  • HVAC technician 
  • Culinary artist 
  • Medical assistant 
  • Pharmacy technician 
  • Legal administration assistant 
  • Cosmetologist
  • Hairstylist
  • Etc.

To do these jobs, a person must learn special skills not just anyone can do. A trade school provides hands-on training for many industries and a great learning environment to practice with the proper tools, techniques, materials, etc.

Not all vocational schools offer the same type of education. If you want to become a hairstylist, you might have to enroll in a specific cosmetology vocational school and other trades.

Some trades require specific hours or curriculum content. Depending on your area of study, you will have to attend the trades school for a varying amount of time. However, you can finish trades school within one year in many cases. Again this isn’t always true, but usually, these trades require a smaller time commitment than a traditional four-year university.

Will You Get a Diploma From Your Trade School When You Finish?

When you finish your time at a vocational school, you will leave with a certificate or a degree. After this, you may have to continue your education or work experience to get certified in your field.

What you do after you finish trade school and how fast you can start working will depend on the exact path you choose. 

Is a Trade School Better than a Traditional Four-Year University?

It is impossible to answer this question. It depends on the person and the career they want to enter.

A vocational school may be better for some students than a four-year university. Others, though, will thrive better at a four-year university. It all comes down to what you want to study and what work you want to find after school.

Because of this, the answer to this question will change for every person. It’s essential to spend some time deciding what your professional goals are and what steps will help you get there before you decide where to enroll, regardless of what type of school you’re considering.

Why a Trade School Might Be the Right Choice for You 

If you are interested in learning a specific trade, enrolling in a trade school might be the right choice for your future career. If you’re still sitting on the fence about trade school, though, take a look at this list of reasons it might be a good fit for you.

1. An Alternative to a Four-Year College

Vocational schools provide training in specific trade skills, usually without extensive general education classes, but rather concentrated classes in the career of choice. You get to work with your hands to develop practical skills you can carry directly into your entry-level career setting.

2. Possibility of Financial Aid

If you can’t afford the total cost of a vocational school, like many four-year colleges, you may be able to apply for financial aid. Look for an accredited trade school approved to offer financial aid to its qualified students. If you qualify, this may take some of the financial burdens off your shoulders and allow you to study without the financial stress.

Keep in mind, though, not everyone qualifies for this type of help. It’s essential to reach out to the trade school and learn more about their requirements before you enroll. If you have questions or need help, the school will walk you through the process to know what forms and documents you will need to submit.

3. No Need for a High GPA

It’s challenging to get into many universities if you don’t have a high GPA. However, some vocational schools don’t look at your high school GPA for many of their programs.

This doesn’t mean getting into a trade school will happen, though. They do require other things to enroll, but if you struggled with your grades in high school or even college, this could be an excellent alternative to consider. Contacting the school and finding out what they need is an excellent first step.

4. Might Be Able to Start Working Faster Than Traditional College Students 

Because you can get through many vocational schools faster than a traditional college, you might be able to jump into the workforce sooner than other students who attend four-year colleges. This isn’t always true, but it is possible.

5. Learn Other Practical Skills

Trade school doesn’t just teach you how to do a job. They also give you positive work habits, such as:

  • Confidence 
  • Communication skills 
  • Self-discipline 
  • Specific skill-building

You can take these skills into the field and thrive at your job. A trade school does its best to equip you with everything you’ll need to succeed in your chosen workforce.

Contact Our Trade School Today! 

So what is a trade school? In short, it’s a school that teaches a practical skillset needed to perform specific technical jobs. Does that sound like something that might interest you?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at InterCoast. We will help you find the best educational fit for your career goals and give you as much support as possible along the way.

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