Trade School: The Alternative Route

Comparing Trade School and College

When most people think about what comes after high school they usually think of college. Our society has normalized the next step as spending 4 years at a university. Seniors in high school must deal with the stress of college applications and standardized testing. With this 4 years usually comes student debt, course difficulty and a feeling of unpreparedness.

Want another option? Consider trade school! Trade school, or vocational school, provides education that pertains to a specific job. These jobs include electrician, plumber, HVAC technician, and welder. Trade schools usually offer open enrollment, meaning you can avoid standardized testing and other stressors that come with college applications. The education provided is geared around the needs of a particular job. Time spent in vocational school is about half of that spent at a 4-year university. 


One of the big drawls of choosing trade school and college is the amount of money saved when attending trade school. College Board reports that the average in-state university costs $14,210 per year (cost including room and board). Comparatively, trade school costs an average of $7,560, nearly half of a 4-year university education. Prices for public universities have been steadily rising at 10% over the past 5 years. Private universities have been increasing their enrollment price by 12%.

As a consequence of the larger sticker price, students at 4-year universities commonly take out student loans. According to Student Loan Hero, the average student loan debt for a college graduate is $39,400 in 2018. These loans can put added stress on students and make it harder to finance big purchases such as houses and cars after graduation.


As it says in the name, a 4-year college lasts 4 years. Keep in mind that this is the typical time it takes to acquire a degree. During this time students are expected to be involved in extra-curriculars and working. It is not uncommon for a student to not graduate on time, tacking on additional years to this time frame.

Students typically spend 2 years completing trade school. All of this time is spent directly on becoming an expert in your chosen trade. Trade school graduates are able to enter the work force earlier than their college counterparts. This time allows for additional income as well as experience.

Job Outlook

4-year college students have seen some issues with job placement within the last couple of years. The Economic Policy Institute reported the unemployment was at 8.5% and underemployment at 16.8% for college graduates. Underemployment meaning that students are unsatisfied or over qualified for their current positions.

Vocational school students have seen the opposite results of their education. According to The Associated General Contractors of America, 70% of firms are having a hard time filling skilled-trade positions due to demand. This presents a very attractive employment pool for skilled-trade professionals. states that 31 million positions will be open by the year 2020. Along with this statistic, skilled-trade jobs are relatively stable. Exportation of these jobs is nearly impossible to do because they are so hands-on.

Trade School Resources

If the thought of working with your hands and getting on-the-job experience is appealing to you, consider choosing trade school to further your education! Listed below are links to various schools and locations to check out:

Scholarships and Grants

Like a 4-year university education, financial aid may be available! If you are interested in attending vocational school, it is worth visiting these sites to see if you qualify:

Advocate for Licensing is an advocate for the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical contractor to properly identify their licensed status for public awareness. Professional Contractors have the license or certification to work in homes and businesses. Without the proper certification and licensing to become a skilled trades professional, it compromises the integrity the trade industry. The contractors listed on the website are licensed or certified according to the codes and laws set forth by each governing state and/or entity. Licensed Contractors work in compliance with local and state codes set forth by their governing trade industry board.  Get more information at or call 844-954-2367 today!