Whether you’re about to graduate from high school or you’re pondering your next career move, you might be wondering, “Is trade school worth it?” It’s a great question! Many people choose trade school and are glad they did. For others, it’s not such a great choice.
Let’s take a look at why people attend trade schools and what you should hope to get from your trade school experience. You might find that it’s a great idea, but you might also be surprised to learn that there are alternatives to trade school that can help you achieve the same goals.
But before we answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at what we mean by “trade school.”
A trade school is an educational institution that trains students for one specific job. It’s a post-secondary school, meaning you only attend after you’ve graduated from high school or have earned a GED.
Trade schools train people for all sorts of jobs, including titles such as:
There are several, and different schools will specialize in just one or a few different trades. When you graduate from trade school, you don’t always receive an associate’s degree like you would from a community college. In many cases, you get a certificate or diploma indicating your achievement and training for a specific trade.
Earning a credential from a trade school doesn’t take as long as earning a college degree. While a bachelor’s degree takes four years and an associate’s degree takes two years, you might finish trade school in just a few months or a year. If all goes well, you can then enter the job market, start competing for positions, and begin a lifelong career.
Costs for trade school vary quite a bit. Public technical and community colleges that offer certificate programs in one or more trades are often more affordable than private or for-profit trade schools.
In most cases, attending trade school will cost less than getting a four-year or two-year degree. That being said, earning your diploma or certificate might still cost thousands of dollars. You might have to take out loans to go to trade school!
If you find you can’t afford trade school without taking out loans, remember the financial advisors’ rule of thumb about student loans: Don’t borrow more than you’re likely to earn in your first year working in your field.
Is a trade school worth it if you have to pay $60,000 (including all interest) for a job that pays $45,000 per year after you graduate? Not in this lifetime!
Unfortunately, several for-profit trade schools have been caught defrauding their students out of lots of money – several thousand for the individual students, amounting to millions in revenue for the schools.
In most cases, these schools encouraged students to take out high-interest loans for overpriced degrees that didn’t make the students particularly competitive in the job market after graduating. These students ended up with near-worthless degrees and incredible amounts of debt.
While many of these schools have been reigned in, you should always be on the lookout for shady operators. Before enrolling in a trade school, research its reputation. Talk to former students and see if they’ve managed to get jobs in their respective fields. Find out whether they recommend the school and its programs.
Note that attending a public technical college or community college is one way to avoid predatory schools. If you have a public institution in your area that offers training in the trades, consider enrolling there before you look at private schools.
In some cases, a dedicated job training program is a great alternative to trade school. This is especially true in the construction field.
At Construction Ready, we train people from all ages and backgrounds to work in the skilled trades. Our graduates get jobs with construction contractors and advance into rewarding, highly-paid jobs that blossom into fulfilling careers!
Our flagship program is a 20-day construction training course that helps you earn all of the credentials you need to get your first construction job. And since Construction Ready is fully funded by government grants and private donations, the training costs nothing for students! That’s right. No student loans. No debt.
As part of the training, we also offer employer introductions and interviews. You’ll meet construction employers who are hiring – 97% of our graduates have jobs lined up before they even finish training!
If you can find a low-cost, high-value trade school alternative, then the question “is going to trade school worth it?” becomes a lot easier to answer. With a dedicated training program like Construction Ready, you can get a great job sooner than if you’d gone to trade school without going into debt.
Maybe so, maybe not. If there’s a dedicated program like Construction Ready in your area, you should definitely check that out before applying to trade schools. And if you can’t find one, see what your local public community or technical colleges have to offer before exploring programs at for-profit institutions.
If you’re interested in learning more about Construction Ready or signing up for training, get in touch with us! We’d love to learn more about your current situation and help you make the best choice for your career.