Are Trade Schools Worth It?

students in trade school learning how to use a buzz saw

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students in trade school learning how to use a buzz saw

What Is a Trade School?

Many people know trade schools as vocational schools or technical colleges. Trade schools provide specialized training for many in-demand occupations. While an associate degree program at a community or technical college can provide hands-on training, trade schools offer more focused education geared toward specific industries and career paths.

Trade schools can offer students relatively quick, cost-effective paths to profitable jobs. In two years or less, a student can train for a job as a cosmetologist, healthcare worker, auto mechanic, or other highly skilled professional.

Recent trade school graduate, Pariz Young, spoke to his own experience: “During COVID-19, I attended Fortis College in Landover, Maryland, and later received my degree through All-State Career School in Baltimore.” At the age of 19 with a baby on the way, he enrolled in trade school and later completed the HVACR program at All-State Career School, quickly entering the field as a service tech/installer.

Trade schools can function as public or private institutions, with some operating as for-profit enterprises. These institutions often award certificates instead of degrees, and some offer credits that students can transfer to other schools. High school students can sometimes take advantage of vocational training, depending on their district and opportunities available in their area.

Trade School Jobs

Trade schools vary in the programs and credentials they offer, but they typically provide hands-on training. Specialized trade school jobs can be found in construction, healthcare, personal services, mechanical trades, and other diverse industries. Trade school graduates can also pursue careers in avionics, graphic design, corrections, criminal justice, and culinary arts.

Depending on where they live, students may not have to wait for high school graduation to start learning a trade. Some vocational programs partner with high schools to offer hands-on training. Other trade schools allow learners to attend technical classes in conjunction with their standard coursework.

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