Vocational school is a popular option for students who decide not to go to college and instead already know what specific career (or vocation, such as automotive repair or dental assistant) that they desire to work in. Sometimes referred to as a trade school or a career college, vocational schools eliminate many of the general education classes such as English, math and science. Instead, students are quickly immersed in hands-on classes where they learn skills needed to perform a job.
Compared to a college university, there are many benefits of attending trade schools. These schools have less stringent demands for acceptance compared to a community college or four-year university. Your SAT scores and high school GPA do not need to be exemplary; instead, for certain trades a good understanding of both basic math and reading comprehension will increase your success rate in coursework completion. Moreover, vocational school is the fastest way to become trained for a high-demand job that pays very well, which is a huge benefit of trade school.
Is Vocational School Worth It?
When you consider the amount of student loan debt (and accrued interest) that it will take to complete a bachelor’s degree, many students find that entering the workforce faster and avoiding as many costs as possible make vocational school well worth it. Also, the success rate for trade schools are much higher than universities or two-year colleges. Here are more reasons to consider whether to attend a trade school or a university:
- Low Cost – The cost of a university degree is ten-thousands of dollars more than of vocational school.
- Location – Trades schools offer multiple curriculums that are conveniently located in all major cities and within driving distance to most rural areas.
- Class Size – Expect smaller class sizes with each student having access to equipment or laboratories for hands-on training. Often, instructors are master tradesmen or degreed employees of the vocation they teach.
- Job-Specific Training – Students leave a vocational school confidently, so they can perform the required tasks of their chosen trade instead of learning university book knowledge.
- Saves Time – Expect to enter the workforce within two years or less after completing trade school. Some vocational schools will train and certify you in six months, which is a high turn-around from high school to a well-paying career!
Find a Program for You
Comparing the Pros and Cons
The current job rates for university graduates are lower than the number of jobs available for trade school graduates. As a matter of fact, while computers and technology are decreasing the number of white collar workers, trade services continue to grow – particularly for construction workers, HVAC technicians, and medical administration.
Arguably, university graduates will make more money than a vocational school graduate after finding employment in their chosen field of study; however, the cost of a four-year education takes its toll. Student loans can be a burden in the early years of employment, and one’s credit can be negatively affected when payments are late. Unfortunately, the inability to pay back student loans has left many college graduates without the credit score required to buy a new home.
Students who are weighing the benefits of trade school need to also consider that college graduates may have a wider choice of career opportunities because their education is not skill-specific. At the same time though, working in a trade also has opportunity for advancement to supervisory positions, and even starting a small business of your own. Each of these growth opportunities have huge income possibilities.
Lastly, college and university level studies require a commitment of time and energy that are much more than a vocational school. The dropout rates for university students is much higher – considerably because of the advanced-level of studies, the stress of being away from home, and the financial burden of living on campus. If you desire to enter the workforce faster and make a decent living, then a trade school may be a good choice for you.