The Pros and Cons of Trade School

Trade schools, as opposed to the traditional four-year universities and colleges, are beginning to gain more currency among the general population. This is particularly true for those who would like to train for a specific job and receive schooling in a shorter period of time. While trade school can be a good option for some, it’s important to first get all the facts.

There are many pitfalls with trade schools that don’t receive much publicity. If you’re considering a trade school, here are four things you need to know.

1. They’re Not Always Cheaper

Trade schools aren’t necessarily a big bargain. Sometimes this is the case, but you should do your math first. For example, the New York Times recently ran an expose revealing how technical schools and other for-profit schools are sold as a product. Unfortunately, it’s a product that costs $14,000 and up and won’t necessarily pay off.

2. No Job Guarantee

Although trade school graduates do learn practical skills, students really are on their own when it comes time to find a job. Despite what such schools may advertise, a degree won’t automatically result in employment. Of course, the same is true of a Ivy League schools. The difference is non-profits rarely guarantee high placement rates.

The fact is, your success is dependent on what you do with the degree. If you don’t have a career path planned out, don’t interview well and don’t have a concrete vision why you deserve a specific job, you’re no better off than a student fresh out of high school. Degrees, from trade schools are credentials that add to your portfolio of other credentials. They’re not a golden ticket to riches. A Money Watch article talks about the realities of trade schools and job markets in further detail.

3. Know Before You Go

Trade school may be the perfect thing if you aren’t interested in the academic aspect of schooling. Although a well-rounded education may increase your general knowledge of how the world works, it isn’t all that career-focused. There are various programs in hundreds of trade schools across the country that cover the skills you need for a specific career. A few examples are culinary arts, nursing, pharmacy and Web design.

4. Flexible Schedules

Unlike four-year university programs, trade schools offer more options for those who still need to work or raise a family. Trade schools usually allow you to attend night classes, use online courses or attend mini-semesters to avoid the four-month long semester that typifies traditional schools.

In the end, trade schools can be your best bet, but it takes a specific type of person who has already demonstrated a proclivity for the working world in order to transform that degree into a successful career. It’s important to do as much research as you can, and it’s also essential that you carefully weigh the costs and benefits.

The Bellingham Herald

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