A trade school, also known as a technical or vocational school, is a higher-level learning institution that specializes in providing students with the vocational education and technical skills they need in order to perform the tasks of a particular job.
Trade schools focus on developing a particular skillset and knowledge base for a career. Trade schools typically take a lot less time to complete, have smaller class sizes, and the majority of the training is hands-on, which is an ideal environment for many types of learners. Vocational degrees can lead to well-paying jobs like electrician, mechanic, machinist, pharmacy technician, nuclear technician, and dental hygienist, with room for growth and managerial potential in each field.
How to Choose a Trade School
There are more than 300 trade Schools in the United States, and choosing the right one for you will rely on a number of important factors:
- Placement Rate: How many graduates are actually placed in their career field? A high percentage will tell you that the school works hard to prepare its graduates for the work force, but you should investigate their success rate.
- Student Completion Rate/Graduation Rate: How many students successfully complete their course of study. This is often called the "retention rate" and is an indicator of institutional commitment to student education.
- Facilities: Are the facilities up-to-date? Vocational and trade schools often have some of the latest technology and equipment. Avoid those with outdated labs, and training equipment. Remember, when you enter the work force you will often be required to jump right in and work on state-of-the-art equipment and the vocational school you choose should be able to prepare you for the modern workplace.
- Services: Does the school offer any extra services? Is there a career guidance office? Will they assist you in finding employment once you have graduated? Can they help you find internships while you are a student
- Tuition/Fees: How much will it cost to attend the program? Are there any hidden fees? Is financial assistance available to you?
Remember, students who choose a vocational track may also qualify for Federal and private student loans to help them finance their trade school education.