What are the benefits of a trade school versus a college education?

Why Trade School?

The Benefits of Trade School vs College

Are you interested in a career where you have the opportunity to challenge both your physical body and your mind? If you are interested in developing a career that gives opportunities to work with you hands as well as your mind, you may want to consider exploring opportunities in construction.

If you’re wondering the value of trade school vs college (or university), we will discuss what is a trade school, how much does trade school cost, and give a brief overview of all the things you can go to trade school for.

We’ll also take a look at going to trade school after college, and point you to some resources for further learning about the skilled trades.

Benefits of Trade School vs College

What is a trade school and how much does it cost?

Trade schools are a great resource for young people looking to get into a career in construction. They are also an outstanding option for people looking to increase their skills or start a new career. Trade schools or technical schools provide training and education to students relating to specific jobs in certain skilled or technical trades.

As young people approach high school graduation they are considering their options. Quite often, the topic of educational costs come up. How much is school going to cost? The average trade school tuition is $33,000. This is the full cost of earning the degree. These costs are different depending on the skilled trade being studied. For example, the cost of attending a trade school to become an electrician is going to be higher than attending a trade school to become a carpenter.

$33,000 may appear to be a significant investment. However, when compared to the average cost of a 4-year college degree at a public university of $80,000 the cost of the trade school is significantly less. There are also quite a few financing options available for those who might need help with a loan to attend a trade school or other types of educational services.

Benefits of Trade School

The benefits of receiving an education in the skilled trades from a trade school are numerous. Some of these benefits can be measured in dollars and overall income. Other benefits are measured in other ways besides counting dollars.

Trade school graduates earn an average annual salary of $42,000 per year. While this is not as high as college graduates with a 4 year degree, you need to look below the surface of the numbers to get a true comparison.

An average student debt for a college student with a 4 year degree is $30,000. The average monthly payment for student debt is approximately $300 per month. The average student debt is approximately the same as the entire tuition for the trade school degree! Trade schools provide a lower cost education which helps reduce the overall student debt for the average student.

Another benefit of a career in construction and the skilled trades is the consistent demand for skilled workers to fill job openings. The demand for skilled trades people is expected to continue to remain above the national average according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. As the demand continues to increase, the opportunity to see an increase in average wages will increase as well.

Trade School vs College comparison


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What can I go to trade school for?

There are trade schools that specialize in a wide array of skilled trades and other technical training. Many resources exist to help you gain skills and knowledge in the specific skilled trade that interests you most.

Training resources and trade schools are available for many of the skilled trades that are in high demand. These skilled trades include:

It is important to remember that there are resources available to anyone looking for a career in the construction and the skilled trades. There are resources provided by product manufacturers relating to product installation. Online trade schools such as Construct-Ed provide free and paid courses and career training to help guide students through getting started in their careers. And there are brick and mortar trade schools where students can attend classes and earn a degree.

Each of these options comes with a different cost. And each option can offer training and education for a wide range of skilled trades. For a longer list of all the construction jobs you can start (and the salaries they pay) click here.

Trade school after college: is it worth it?

Are you currently enrolled as a college student? Are you earning a degree, but are unsure of how you can use your skills and knowledge in a career? Entering the skilled trades with a college degree will help you uniquely position yourself in the workforce.

There are certain professions in the skilled trades that are enhanced with the addition of a college degree. Positions that require an engineer’s degree including project management on certain types of projects are opportunities in construction for those with college degrees. Other skilled trades including landscape designers and remodelers can be enhanced with college degrees in design and architecture.

A unique opportunity for individuals with an entrepreneurial approach is to earn a degree in business management and then look to start and manage a small construction company. Business skills are an important set of skills that can help you lead a successful business once you have mastered the trade.

Trade School vs College after college

If you are in college or are considering going to college and then joining the skilled trades, it is important to start with the end in mind. Is your career path based on building knowledge in a certain trade and then seeking employment? If so, it is probably best to start at a trade school without college. If you are looking to eventually be your own boss and run your own company, a college degree can help you lead a better more successful company.

Another path to success is to attend college part-time while working in the skilled trades. Many employers welcome part-time students as part of their workforce. You can work learning the trade and at the same time attend community college to help build your skills and knowledge. This creates a great opportunity to practice what you learn in college the next day on the job. Your job becomes your laboratory.

Is trade school considered a college?

In the whole discussion of trade school vs college, you may be wondering – “are they that different”? Both colleges and trade schools are considered educational institutions. Both may offer training, certificates and degrees on many different areas and subjects. The goal of both trade schools and traditional colleges is to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they will need to join the workforce and contribute to society.

Colleges offer a vital service to the world. They train and educate people to move into positions that the world needs filled. They educate our doctors, our teachers and our engineers. These positions require a significant investment by individuals in time and resources in order to achieve these levels.

Trade schools offer opportunities that colleges cannot offer. They offer opportunities to learn a skilled trade and enter a profession that is vital to the world. People require buildings to work in and homes to live in. Without skilled trades professionals, these critical elements of our lives are not sustainable.

Trade schools are colleges for the professional skilled trades person.


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Learn More

That’s it for our discussion on trade school vs college, but if you want to learn more about starting a successful career in the trades, just use the menu on the left and browse our other articles. Or, you can learn trade skills online by watching our on-demand courses.