A bachelor’s degree is often seen as an important step toward securing postgraduate career options. But this path doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, and that is okay!
For many individuals looking to take steps into the working world and earn a lot of money, trade schools may have more of an appeal.
Not only are they far more secure and affordable than a traditional four-year-long college study program, but they cater to a variety of in-demand job fields by providing niche learning opportunities.
If you’re seeking an affordable way of obtaining a reliable career, this is likely the next logical step for you. They can be taught within a reasonable time frame and are extremely fulfilling both personally and professionally.
What Is a Trade School?
Also referred to as a vocational school, a trade school offers specific coursework to teach students the technical skills required to pursue a specific job. Unlike general coursework, a trade school has been designed to offer certification and training in one particular field.
Trade schools are usually either public or private, but there are quite a few that are also run as for-profit businesses. Trade schools offer degrees in a variety of fields including nursing, health sciences, information technology, and fashion design. The length of your studies depends on the program you choose.
Learn More: What Are Trade Schools, Anyway?
Trade School vs. Four-Year College
Trade school provides students with a career-focused training program in a specific field such as healthcare, technology, or construction. With trade schools, students can receive tangible, hands-on experience in a particular area of study thanks to a powerful combination of practical and classroom learning.
Four-year college programs offer students the ability to develop soft and hard skills while earning academic degrees. Students will select an area of study, a “major” from an extensive list of academic fields. They learn industry-specific skills in this area but also practice more abstract skills including analytical thinking and problem-solving.
Course Of Study
Trade school programs are quite short, usually running anywhere from a couple of months to two years. The focus of trade schools is on giving students hands-on experience directly related to a specific job. This means that the courses are practical and extremely useful.
Four-year colleges can be public or private, and the vast majority are non-profit. Although four-year colleges do also have specific pre-professional programs and majors, the main focus is on acquiring lots of academic knowledge rather than more practical skills.
You don’t graduate from trade school with a bachelor’s degree. Instead, after completing the program you’ll likely receive a trade certificate or a diploma. You might even have the chance to gain an associate degree which could put you in a better position when job hunting.
After you have completed your studies, you will also either be prepared to sit a licensing exam or immediately ready to begin as an apprentice or journeyman in a skilled trade.
On the other hand, after successfully finishing a four-year college program, you will receive a certificate confirming your bachelor’s degree. This can be shown to future employers to demonstrate your wealth of knowledge in a particular field.
Another major difference between the two is admissions. Trade school admission is largely just open enrollment which is convenient for those with fewer qualifications. Four-year colleges, however, require a high school diploma, and standardized test results, and also often require coursework.
How to Apply to a Trade School
Elevator Installer and Repairer
All machinery requires high-quality frequent maintenance. That’s where elevator installers and repair workers are so desperately needed.
As technical professionals, elevator installers and repairers must have a well-developed skill set and a wide scope of knowledge to practically resolve issues in various systems.
Not only must they know how to maintain, fix, and even assemble elevators, but they should also know how to repair chairlifts, walkways, and additional automotive lifts, too.
As well as fixing issues, these trained professionals must also conduct general maintenance on a variety of automotive lifts to make sure they are compliant with relevant safety standards and building regulations. If not, they can then make the relevant repairs.
Elevator installers and repair technicians are typically contracted to work by private companies. It’s a challenging job that takes a lot of attention and skill, but it’s extremely financially rewarding. Their average base salary is around $88,000 but varies according to the employer.
Working in radiation therapy is a multi-faceted and well-paying trade job that a lot of people won’t typically consider, with a median annual salary of $86,850.
Working with physicians, oncologists, and nurses, these professionals work closely alongside patients to treat cancer and other serious conditions. Radiation therapists have lots of important responsibilities to carry out in their role. This includes the following:
- Overseeing therapy sessions to ensure everything goes smoothly and according to strict safety protocols.
- Using machines such as linear accelerators to administer treatment to shrink or destroy all tumors.
- Going over treatment plans with patients.
- Monitoring patients during their treatment period to observe whether they have a negative reaction.
A high school diploma or GED is generally the only education you need to enroll in a radiation therapy program.
Professional web developers are sought after for their technological expertise in all areas, but specifically, designing the aesthetics and layout of particular web pages to monitor site speed. But these aren’t the only thing that web developers are responsible for.
They also oversee more detailed technical elements such as tracking website traffic, maintaining and updating websites, creating and testing new applications, and also monitoring usability for the client.
Educational requirements for web developers and digital designers range from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree. A lot of web developers happen to be self-taught, but the vast majority will possess an associate degree that covers graphic design and general computer programming. More specialized positions might require a certificate of further education.
The general salary hovers around the $77,000 mark, but this depends on the software publishers and the company they are working for.
Dental hygienists enable patients to maintain excellent oral health by providing hygiene education and pointing them in the direction of preventative procedures.
They use several ultrasonic and hand tools to clean patients’ teeth; with key responsibilities including taking x-rays, and removing plaque, stains, and tartar. Dental hygienists will also keep an eye out for signs of different oral diseases including cancer and gingivitis.
To find work in this field, you must finish an associate degree program that has been officially recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
So, if you want to work in a professional setting with an above-average yearly salary of around $77,000, going to trade school and developing the skills to become a dental hygienist might be your next move. In addition to adequate training and education, dental hygienists must also obtain official and legal licensing to work in their state.
Depending on the state that the professional lives in, they might have the option to complete additional training to become dental therapists. In this position, they are equipped to install crowns and extract teeth.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
These healthcare professionals can perform diagnostic and follow-up examinations on patients using top-of-the-range ultrasound equipment that produce sonograms and ultrasounds to find and identify abnormalities.
Essentially, these professionals will assist surgeons and physicians when it comes to diagnosing a variety of medical conditions in patients, and will also lend a hand in preparing patients for operations.
They might specialize in a particular area of the body or might be trained to detect any type of abnormality in the patient’s overall wellbeing. Some specific areas of focus could be the abdominal cavity, female reproductive system, the heart, and even a patient’s blood vessels.
The job pays well with an average salary of just over $70,000 a year, with plenty of potential to earn more by working in a specific outpatient care center.
Medical sonographers typically hold a technical certificate from a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Alternatively, they can earn an associate’s in sonography.
Respiratory therapists are certified medical professionals who are trained to assess and treat patients who have problems occurring in the lungs. They work alongside doctors and nurses in specialist clinics or in a hospital setting.
Professionals working in this particular area of medicine have high levels of responsibility. This is reflected in the $63,000 annual wage.
Some of the key things they do include evaluating and treating different patients, performing limited physical examinations, and conducting regular assessments on the equipment to ensure it’s all up to standard.
Respiratory therapists are required to have a detailed understanding of how the cardiopulmonary systems work. They must also have advanced knowledge of high-tech medical equipment, including mechanical ventilators.
To become a respiratory therapist through a trade school program, you must select a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care so you can then obtain an official license.
Arguably one of the most highly regarded professions out there, electricians are always in-demand.
Licensed electricians carry out lots of primary responsibilities that include planning, inspecting, installing, and then maintaining a variety of electrical systems, and also involve testing power-based equipment. Examples of this include control grids, general lighting systems, and communication networks.
If they are carrying out maintenance for an already existing system then they operate by finding innovative solutions for difficult to access wiring along with other electrical components.
An electrician will look at the blueprints of certain buildings to identify where breakers and circuits should be, and whether they have been installed correctly. For example, they will be able to rewire old homes and work on new builds to bring them up to code or
The paid-on-the-job approach makes it easy to transition into the industry straight out of trade school and provides ample opportunity for growth. This is a trade that can earn you a salary of about $56,000 a year.
Everyone will need a plumber at some point in their lives! This is yet another in-demand trade school job that is necessary to make our homes feel as comfortable as possible and to ensure they are also up to federal standards.
One of the greatest things about plumbing is that there are lots of different specific career projects to choose from, and you never know what you’re going to get! One day you could be responding to multiple emergencies where leaks have occurred, or you might be solely working on brand-new homes to initially install pipes and other relevant fixings.
It may sound like a straightforward job, but that isn’t the case at all! Plumbers have a tough job as a lot of piping systems will carry gas and liquids into office buildings, facilities, and homes which can be a major health and safety hazard if handled incorrectly.
Most plumbers will need to complete an apprenticeship, hold an associate degree or certificate, and may even need a license for independent work.
Working for contracting companies will earn a median annual salary of $56,330.
Wind Turbine Technician
Wind energy is becoming more popular each year as people choose to live a more sustainable lifestyle, meaning wind turbines are used on a much more frequent basis. This highlights the need for wind turbine technicians.
Although learning to become a wind turbine technician can be considered one of the more dangerous careers on this list, it will earn you a sizable median annual salary of around $56,000.
A wind turbine technician will oversee turbine functions that convert wind energy into electricity. This includes repairing issues relating to the most prominent wind turbine components like the brakes, generator, and blades. Training in a trade school will also give you in-depth knowledge regarding how to repair several small components that aren’t strictly limited to the turbines themselves.
If you want to obtain a career in this area of sustainability you must obtain a relevant qualification in wind technology. You’ll likely also have to complete a year of on-the-job training before you can consider yourself a professional in the field.
When something goes wrong with your computer and you can’t find a quick fix online, your next step is to contact an IT technician. Even thinking about a world without these knowledgeable individuals is enough to strike fear into the most technology-savvy individuals.
Also called computer support specialists, IT technicians work on departmental teams to install and maintain WANs, LANs, and internet networks. They also perform security functions, defending against cybercriminals and recovering stolen digital assets.
IT technicians might also embody a customer support role. If this is the case, and you still want to pursue this in trade school, you must make sure to have the patience to teach people how to troubleshoot common issues, regardless of their technical ability.
An accredited trade school should be able to equip you with the necessary skills for a variety of IT technician jobs. With these roles, you can expect to earn around $55,500-$75,000 annually. However, this figure depends on your experience and the company you’re working for.
Another popular trade job you can pursue via a trade school is an ironworker. As part of a construction firm or a contracting company, ironworkers will install iron and steel in certain structures as a way of strengthening them. Some common projects include reinforcing bridges and buildings using iron mesh and rebar.
Ironworkers are also drafted in as part of a demolition team and always prove to be useful thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the way iron and structural steelwork. If you were to pursue this career, you would also learn how to erect and join column girders.
It can be a dangerous and physically demanding job and often requires workers to operate at great heights. Because of this, you can expect to wear safety equipment to reduce the risk of injury or falling. All of the ways you can keep yourself safe when performing this type of role will be taught to you in trade school.
The average annual salary of $57,160 is a great incentive to pursue this particular trade. Plus, the job provides excellent career prospects should you choose to take your knowledge and skills elsewhere throughout your career.
Legal assistants are a key cog in law firms. Before you even begin studying this at a trade school, you can guarantee job security.
They are responsible for assisting lawyers in a variety of ways. Mainly, they perform administrative tasks on behalf of the lawyer; managing digital filing systems, preparing legal documents, communicating with clients, and scheduling meetings and appointments.
Some tasks such as legal research may overlap with that of a paralegal, but only if you’ve had relevant training and experience. Regardless, in any trade school, you will be taught the essential skills needed to perform this role to a high standard.
Legal assistants do not necessarily need to have a university degree but candidates who have graduated in a relevant discipline may gain an advantage during the application stage.
These professionals earn a median annual wage of $52,920. Legal assistants and paralegals typically hold an associate degree; however, many employers prefer candidates who possess a bachelor’s in paralegal studies and have completed a certificate program backed by the American Bar Association.
Licensed Practical Nurse
The healthcare industry continues to grow, largely because of the growing number of poor health habits. Because of this, individuals wishing to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can enjoy some of the highest rates of occupational growth in the healthcare sector while earning a median annual wage of $48,820.
Also known as vocational nurses in various states, these individuals work under the guidance of registered nurses and physicians to take care of infants, provide basic patient care, feed patients that struggle with their eating, and also monitor vitals like heart rate and blood pressure.
To begin their career, LPNs must have proper medical training to take care of their patients. Experienced LPNs may find themselves able to occupy leadership positions, supervising nonmedical staff and new practical nurses.
Approved programs can be found at community colleges or hospitals and generally take about a year to complete.
Diesel Service Technician
A diesel service technician will have the knowledge and ability to work with diesel engines in several important ways. They’ll know how to service, repair, and even replace diesel engines using several tools whenever it is necessary.
But that isn’t all. A diesel technician should also know how to use large computerized equipment—usually provided by the shop owner— and must also possess excellent customer service skills to ensure effective communication.
Diesel engines can be found in larger vehicles such as buses and tractor-trailer rigs, and are often also seen in construction equipment. Because of this, diesel service technicians must have the mechanical aptitude to get things done, have the physical strength to move heavy items, and must also have dexterity.
This career requires specialized training to know how to properly carry out repairs. Post-secondary trade school programs are readily available for a career in this field. Average salaries range from $60,000 to $74,000 depending on reputation, experience, and certifications.
For those who love designing and expressing themselves creatively, becoming a fashion designer is the perfect fit. There are plenty of concentrations to pick between whether you opt for lingerie or bags. You can then tailor your career around your training which is convenient.
However, stiff competition can make the initial venture into the industry feel like an impossible task, whether that’s through apprenticeship opportunities or on-the-job training
But if you are truly prepared to put the work into your craft and spend countless long work hours meeting impossible deadlines, adhering to demands, selecting fabrics and styles, and assisting in the production of clothing—this might be your calling!
Entry-level fashion designing jobs can be obtained with technical trade school training. With a potential salary upwards of $75,810, is it any wonder this job is so in-demand?
Carpentry is one of the most traditional hands-on jobs out there and has a respectable median salary of $49,520. These skilled craftspersons can create structures from common materials such as concrete, wood, or fiberglass. The final product depends on the type of carpentry you specialize in, whether that’s residential, industrial, or commercial.,
Enrolling in carpentry courses at a trade school or community college is one way to gain the knowledge and techniques needed for a career as a carpenter. During their studies, students learn about various building materials and their features, and how they might adhere to another item.
Skills learned in carpentry courses that can be directly applied to the job may include safety awareness, building layout design, and blueprint reading. You’ll likely gain a lot of important knowledge as you are earning.
Home Inspectors can make around $52,000 annually – and only require trade school training. However, you will need a GED or high school diploma to enroll in a vocational home inspection program.
It’s an ideal career move for those with an eye for detail and a great working knowledge of the construction field. These individuals must also understand plumbing, electrical work, construction methods, and much more.
After all, as long as new homes are being erected and older homes are being re-done and then sold, the demand for qualified home inspectors will remain steady!
As a home inspector, your main responsibilities will be to scrutinize your surroundings to ensure things are up to code and to also spot potential health or safety hazards before they come to fruition. Inspectors typically have an impressive level of attention to detail and can typically find minor problems that may have otherwise been missed.
If you’ve ever watched court proceedings then you’ve likely noticed someone in the room who is frantically tapping away. This is a court reporter or a short-hand reporter.
These individuals are responsible for listening to a spoken statement and then relaying it verbatim into a stenograph machine to translate it to the written word. Because it is an official legal record, everything noted must be both accurate and concise.
Court reporters might also find on-the-job opportunities in webcasting or closed and real-time captioning services, both of which require expert-level stenographic skills.
You will need a few things to enter this career field including necessary training through a relevant trade school or associate degree program, a license (if the state requires it), and proof of passing the certification exam.
It can be a stressful job, due to the required speed and accuracy of typing (180 to 225 wpm is ideal). But with a salary of around $60,000 and the potential for freelance work, the options for this career are endless.
With an average wage of $51,000, this is a great career to consider!
Due to the complexity of and the increasing demand for heating and air circulatory systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are essential.
A qualified technician is specially trained to install, maintain, and repair systems that are installed in commercial and residential buildings. In addition to this, they must also be proficient in EPA rules and regulations. Working knowledge of plumbing and electricals will also be beneficial.
HVAC technicians have some flexibility in their work. They have the option to work with only one component rather than all three. In some cases, they might even specialize in repair, installation, or general maintenance. This depends on the experience and the type of training they have received.
Employers have a preference for candidates with complete technical training. But there’s no need to worry! This is available at most vo-tech schools and can be completed within six months to two years. You may also need a license.
The final career on this list is a construction manager. This career reaps the highest financial reward, with a median annual salary in the range of $75,000 to $98,000.
Also known as general contractors or project managers, this career path is one of the highest-paying trades on this list that does not always require a degree. Depending on the company’s job stipulations, a four-year bachelor’s degree is sometimes a necessity. But the good news is, that some construction managers are qualified after several years of apprenticeship or work-related experience.
As a construction manager, you must be willing to wear bear the burden of various duties. This can range anywhere from initial planning stages to seeing the project through to completion, and every small detail in between.
You must have exceptional communication and organizational skills, know how to schedule work, have an affinity for leading large-scale products and sub-contractor teams, and must be able to resolve conflicts.
How Much Education Does A Trade Typically Take?
This depends on the level of education that is required for the career you want to pursue. A repairer may only need a high school diploma to begin their trade and will gain experience as they work on-site. These are apprenticeships that continue until an individual is fully trained.
Other trades like legal assistants will require an associate’s degree to perform the role effectively, whereas others will need a bachelor’s degree to demonstrate that an individual is fully qualified to take on the role.
How To Know If A Trade Job Is Good For Me?
If you enjoy working with your hands and being productive, you’ll probably thrive in a trade job. These job types are essential to our daily life as they help to carry on business, receive medical assistance, and have help with household issues.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of 4-8 years of college before entering a career, trade school is an efficient way to jump straight into the working world. It’s also a great option if you’re interested in self-employment or setting your hours.
Can I Complete Trade Schools Via An Online Format?
Trades typically require lots of hands-on training in a relevant environment; whether in a trade school or as part of on-the-job training. This means that online trade school courses maybe a little more difficult to attend online than normal college classes.
But yes, you can complete them in an online format! Thanks to developing technology and a changing attitude toward online education, there are some exceptions. Notably, software and web developers can be taught online as the theory and practice of such concepts can be put into practice online.
How Much Will Acquiring A Trade Cost?
The average overall cost of trade remains at the $33,000 mark which covers the entire duration from start to finish. One year in college is around $34,000 so you’d be saving money in the long run by going to trade school! Depending on the trade you end up in, this could prove to be a massive benefit financially and also for your career prospects.
What Is A Trade?
A trade is a skilled vocation or job that requires specialized training and technical skills in one key area. It refers to in-demand and hands-on jobs such as plumbing, carpentry, and dental hygienists. However, it does also encapsulate managerial positions such as construction management which allows a highly skilled individual to oversee the creation and production of large-term projects within their field of expertise.
Pursuing a trade job is a smart and incredibly useful thing to do. This is especially true if you’re wanting to have a career that is challenging, in-demand, and also pays well – but without the hassle of attending a four-year college.
And, obtaining a career via trade school will also prep you with the necessary skills for your field of work as well as an excellent salary, which means you can live a comfortable life regardless of the type of trade job you end up doing.
Hopefully, you’ll now have more information to decide whether getting started in a job via trade school is the right path for you!