Trade Schools: The New College Frontier

The benefits of college trade schools

When I think of higher education, I think of university names, state schools, dorm life, bad cafeteria food and, above all, tuition prices that are sky high. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the average cost for a degree from a university was $127,000. While continuing school is a wise idea, the cost is deterring for most students, but it doesn’t have to be. There are other options.

Trade schools, or vocational schools, offer a variety of programs in different fields such as healthcare, business, and even law. What’s more, a degree from a trade school costs $33,000 and you can finish in two years instead of four. That’s 25% less in half the time.

There are downsides to a technical degree. While you are trained to enter the workforce, there is no guarantee of a job. Also, for most programs, you only earn an associate’s degree and have to take more steps to advance or gain a bachelor’s degree.

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Even though a degree is necessary, experience is just as important. Trade schools offer more hands-on time than traditional colleges, giving students the advantage of already knowing what to do when they get to their job without as much initial training. They’re also more skill oriented, with less focus on general education classes. Both university and trade school degrees are great options, it all depends on what you want to take away from your education experience.

For whichever you decide, here are three of the growing fields trade schools offer.

1. Nursing

Nursing has a variety of fields and disciplines to work in, and you’re never limited to one spot. Most trade schools offer CNA, LPN, RN, and even transition from LPN or RN to BSN programs.

The average cost to earn a nursing degree is anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 yearly, as opposed to the $20-30,000 cost of a four year college. Trade schools offer many options to advance, giving you the choice to gain either your associate’s degree, or earn an LPN first and then transition to RN. The average cost for an associate’s degree is $3,000 per year, and the bridge programs average at least twice that. This career has many options open for training and advancement, especially in places where nurses are most needed.

With the nursing shortage becoming worse, the call for nurses is becoming more prominent, and you don’t need to attend a university to get the same education as those already in the work force.

2. Business/Administrative

If nursing isn’t what you’re interested in, a business degree has a lot of different career opportunities you can look into. Jobs you can achieve through trade school in this field include

  • Human Resource Management,
  • Systems Manager
  • Public Relations

Business degrees are also in high demand right now, especially in IT fields. The average cost for a trade school degree in business is around $2700, and is also dependent on which field you specialize in. On the other hand, a private college costs $30,000 while a state school averages $22,203 for out-of-state students and $8,893 if you’re in state. The lower tuition of trade schools is one perk for the business field, and like the other career courses, you only take the classes that are necessary.

Trade schools are more focused on specific areas, so business administration students will learn what they need to for business administration and human resource management students will learn what they need to for human resource management, unlike traditional schools where even in your major you are required to take classes that don’t apply to you specifically.

2. Computer science

It seems fitting that in the age of technology there are various fields in this sector offered through trade schools as there is a growing demand to fill these jobs. The cost for a degree in computer science can range anywhere between $7,000 and $35,000 yearly, all depending on if you do a two-year or four-year program. A four-year program would be on the more expensive end, since classes would have to be taken through a college or university. Trade schools are on the lower end of the tuition range, and are completed in the two-year span. While this is one of the more costly trade school degree programs, it has the ability for growth into different branches of the field. Although computer science is different from the other jobs in technology, such as IT, CS students have the capability to move into other technology jobs easily since they are part of the same niche.

Education is important in this field, but experience carries a lot of weight. Meaning, the more experience you gain, the more opportunities will be open to you, and the easier it will be to travel around your field. This is why the more hands-on approach that trade schools offer is important because you get to dive head first into your field, while still learning information that will be useful in other areas.

Traditional school isn’t for everyone, and whatever reason you have for not wanting to attend one is valid. Doing your research is the best way to decide what’s best for you. Websites like Cappex and CollegeScorecard are great for comparing and finding out details like tuition, student ratio, and other factors that may influence your decision. If you need more help, visit your guidance counselor or contact the schools you’re interested in directly.

Trade schools as alternatives to college.Sacha is a writer from Colorado living in Boise, ID. She is currently attending Boise State University for Social Work, and in her free time enjoys drawing, reading up on current events, and playing with her birds.