It’s an age-old educational crossroads students have faced for generations – “do I go to college or do I choose a career in the trade industries?” Even in this age of technical advances, disrupter industries, digital platforms and evolving global economic influences – students still must make the choice.
And though it is an old question, there is new thinking on the subject.
There is a greater demand for high precision technical skills, salaries are increasing and new vocational jobs are appearing. In fact, there is a skilled-labor shortage in America. Meanwhile, the costs for a college education are escalating dramatically, leaving students with decades of debt. Colleges are also falling behind trade schools in meeting the needs of the marketplace, thus widening the skills gap between jobs available and people trained to take those jobs.
College is a good fit for many people – but it’s not for everyone.
My own experience has taught me so much on this subject, but I also want to share some wisdom from other experts in the field such as author Natalie Regoli.
Pros of Trade School Education
Trade schools are more affordable than college tuition
Trade job salaries increasing
Vocational training starts and finishes faster than college – 2 years or less
Trade schools have smaller class sizes
Most technical schools offer a robust job placement program
Wide variety of trade programs - new high precision skills training
Trade schools are typically local and more accessible – no room and dorm costs
No financial aid for vocational schools
Trade schools job placement rate higher than college
Pros of College Education
Better paying jobs
Greater upward salary trajectory
Extensive class and career path options
Exposure to broad range of educational experiences
Must for professional career fields and advanced education
Helps develop world view
College degree considered more prestigious
There are many differences, but also some similarities. For example, both educational systems offer online classes now which gives you greater flexibility and accessibility in customizing your learning experience. Both college and trade schools have job placement and career services to help you land that first post-school job. Remember however, most trade schools do not offer financial aid for tuition.
Choosing a career path is not just about the money – it’s about your personal future. If you prefer starting a career sooner instead of waiting four to six years to complete college or if you like learning practical skills in the classroom instead of gaining book knowledge, then a trade school is a viable choice. Some trades positions are earning up to $90.00 per hour based on supply and demand and subject-matter-expertise.
But if you are planning a professional career, are attracted international studies or are interested in a wide array of subjects – college is an important consideration. College is also required to earn a masters or doctorate degree, which opens the door many high-paying jobs and continual learning opportunities.”
Making the choice depends on your personal life goals, your education timeline and understanding how you learn best. If you haven’t yet, get out into the workforce to get an idea of the direction you want to choose.
Talk to counselors, visit local institutions, evaluate programs, and speak with graduates and other students to learn from their experiences. Do your homework before you start school!