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Choosing Trade School Over A 4-Year College

By Dan Green

Trade School is a specific type of school, which teaches the skills needed for a specific type of job. Trade School is also known as Vocational School, and as Technical College. Trade School graduates are highly-specialized and often earn high levels of income because of their skills and specialization.

What Is Trade School Like?

Trade School is an educational institution that teaches the skills required for a specific job.

Trade schools are designed for people who know what they want to do for a career. They provide laser-focused classes and hands-on training for specific jobs in specific businesses.

Trade Schools are popular, too. More than 3.5 million people attend Trade School in the United States each year.

Trade School students are split mostly evenly between women and men. Roughly one-third of all attendees are aged 24 or younger.

Even if you’re already working a job full-time, you can find time for Trade School in your life. Classes are offered during daytime hours, in the evenings, and on weekends, as well.

Classes are often available online, too.

As a Trade School student, you will get specialized training and real-world experience you can’t get anywhere else; and, many schools offer job placement services as part of their programs.

Job placement will help you start earning money in your new career as quickly as possible.

Most students graduate Trade School in two years or fewer. Some graduate in as little as six months.

What Are The Highest Paying Trade School Programs?

There is a huge opportunity for students who want to attend Trade School, and there are trade schools to match nearly every career choice and option.

Trade School can prepare you for a career in Veterinary Medicine; in Nursing; and, in Computers. It can also prepare you for work as a Plumber, a Carpenter, and a HVAC Specialist.

Here is a quick look at what some of the more common “trade school” jobs pay annually, nationwide:

  1. Dental Hygiene: $72,000
  2. Radiation Therapist: $58,000
  3. Plumber: $51,000
  4. Registered Nurse: $68,000
  5. Commercial Pilot: $76,000
  6. Diesel Mechanic: $45,000
  7. Aircraft Mechanic: $58,000
  8. Paralegal: $49,000
  9. Computer Programmer: $80,000
  10. Animator: $64,000

Depending on where you live and your level of experience, you may earn more or less than the above figures. It’s not uncommon for experienced Trade School graduates to earn more than $100,000 annually.

Trade School vs 4-Year College: Which Is Better?

Trade Schools and 4-year colleges have a lot in common. Both require hard work, long hours, and challenging projects.

However, for students deciding whether it’s better to go to Trade School or college, there are some ways to simplify the choice.

Do you know what job and career you want?

For students who know what they want to do for a job and a career, Trade School is an excellent path forward.

In Trade School, classes provide specific job training and, in many cases, help students to gain advanced certification which can be used to earn higher levels of income.

College education is more “rounded”.

In a 4-year college environment, students receive exposure to a variety of subjects and disciplines but may not gain the specific skills required to earn a job after graduation.

For careers requiring an advanced degree, such as those in medicine, law, and business, a college education is required.

Do you want to maximize your lifetime income?

For students who want to maximize their lifetime earning potential, attending a 4-year college is recommended.

This is because the long-term earning potential of a college graduate exceeds the income potential of a Trade School graduate.

4-year college graduates earn roughly $17,000 more per year as compared to Trade School graduates. This figure widens with work experience.

4-year college graduates are also more likely to get benefits from their employers as compared to Trade School graduates, which may make for a more comfortable retirement .

Do you want to minimize your debt and loans?

It costs money to go to Trade School, and it costs money to attend a 4-year college. For students concerned about education costs, Trade School can be a winning choice.

The average trade school costs 75% less to attend than the average 4-year college. Trade School students graduate with much less debt.

Furthermore, Trade School often lasts no more than two years, so graduates can begin to repay student loans more quickly. This reduces long-term interest costs.

Graduates of a 4-year college often find themselves paying back student loans long into their 30s, and sometimes into their 40s. Interest costs can be high.

Do you want protection against the economy?

In today’s work environment, it’s common for U.S. businesses to outsource work to individuals, companies, and countries.

Some jobs, though, can’t be outsourced.

In-home nursing care, for example, requires work that can’t be performed from overseas; and, a toilet cannot be installed for a business from a remote location across the globe.

Trade School graduates are hands-on with their work which can offer protection against globalization. 4-year college graduates rarely get such protection, which can lead to job loss later in life.

Find Out More About Trade School

The choice to attend Trade School is a personal one. It’s a path that’s right for some, and which offers tremendous long-term potential.

There are hundreds of vocations for Trade School students to learn.

Written by Dan Green

Dan Green is a mortgage lending expert and the founder of Growella. Prior to Growella, Dan was a six-time, top-producing loan officer; and, ranked repeatedly among the top 1% of loan officers nationwide. Dan's home buying expertise has been in print and on TV with The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Forbes, CNBC, and others.

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