Education Options: College vs. Trade School

Are you graduating high school in a year or two? Are you starting to think about your education options?

Believe it or not, every career opportunity doesn’t require a college degree. In fact, an employer in your chosen career field might prefer a certification from a reputable trade school over a college diploma.

Here’s what you should be thinking about as you consider your education choices.

Pros: Trade Schools

These days, many people aspiring to careers in trades like plumbing, electrical work, or business administration want to cut through the liberal arts component of their education and get right to the skills they will need to make a good living. This is where trade school comes in.

Trade schools usually offer shorter programs than colleges. In fact, you can earn a certificate in as little as seven months, although most programs take around twelve to eighteen months. This means you can start earning a living and gaining experience before many of your peers have even entered the workforce.

A shorter program also usually means you’ll pay less tuition. In fact, the average cost comes out to around $33,000 for the entire education.

The lower cost of tuition doesn’t translate to a lower salary for many folks. Electricians in California, for example, make an average of close to $70,000 per year.

Most of the skills that professionals will have coming out of trade school will be in high demand. You can begin working for a reputable company right away and be able to gain the experience you need to earn even more money.

If you’re in the application phase, you can enjoy the fact that trade schools generally have rolling admission. You won’t have to worry about missing the deadline. At any time, you can get started pursuing an education that will open up many career doors for you.

The careers you’ll prepare for in trade school usually survive poor economies. People will always need electricians and HVAC technicians. You can usually enjoy good job security if you choose to pursue a trade.

Cons: Trade School

While trade schools offer many advantages, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of. For example, you’ll only be qualified to work in a very specific field once you graduate. You may not have as many career options as someone with a broader degree.

The mean salaries for college degree-based careers are generally higher than those of trade school jobs. However, much will depend upon your aptitude and the demand for professionals in your area.

In addition to less job flexibility, your educational preparation will also involve less exchange of ideas with those who aren’t interested in your career field. This means you may enjoy less diversity of thought and connections during your educational years.

Pros: College

One of the main reasons folks invest in a college education is that they will have higher earning potential once they get their degree. In fact, they will earn on average about $32,000 more per year than those who only graduated from high school.

That being said, your earning potential with a trade school certificate will depend on a number of factors and could end up being more lucrative than a job that requires a degree. For example, electricians in California will make more money than teachers working in private schools.

In addition, college graduates are more likely to be employed than their peers who didn’t attend college. Again, your employment after trade school will depend on other factors.

College can provide you with a well-rounded education that can give you an advantage in any career field. For example, you’ll need to take courses in history, science, and physical education in order to earn your degree. These classes can make you a better-educated person and help you to make strong contributions to your place of work and community.

If you’re interested in networking and making connections with people outside of your chosen career field, college can provide a great place to make friends. It can also help to broaden your way of thinking and introduce you to prospective contacts in other disciplines.

Cons: College

One of the main reasons why some people are concerned about going to college is the cost. For example, the average cost of tuition alone is over $10,000 per year for in-state residents and over $15,000 per year for out-of-state residents. That’s not even including room and board if you plan on living on campus.

Many college students end up with crippling debt that they are unable to pay off for decades after they complete their education. Today, majors like creative writing, theater arts, and art history will not help you to earn back the money you spent on your education in a reasonable amount of time.

College also takes longer than trade school to complete. A bachelor’s degree will take about four years. Some careers, such as teaching, counseling, and economics, also require a master’s degree.

This means that you’ll be in your mid-20s before you can think about starting your career with a college degree. If you’re looking to get on the fast track toward earning money and gaining experience, trade school could be for you.

Weighing Your Education Options

Choosing a career is an important life decision. It’s important to think carefully about your education options and know where you’d like to be in a decade or two. With the right research and care, you could be on your way to a profitable career in no time.

Don’t stop getting smart about your career and lifestyle now. For more great advice, read our blog today.