When it comes to furthering your education, it’s important to think about what type of career training will work best for you. For the past several decades, the push has been toward driving graduating high school students toward traditional colleges and universities. That’s left a big hole in the workforce, with employers experiencing difficulty attracting highly skilled blue-collar workers.
Now, with the U.S. facing a major shortage of skilled tradesmen and women, it’s time to take another look at the reasons to consider a trade school instead of college.
|National Average||Four-Year College||Two-Year College||Trade School|
|Average Cost |
|$9,410 (per year) |
|$3,440 (per year) |
|$5,000 – $15,000 (total) |
|Time to Complete |
|4 years |
|2 Years |
|3 months – 18 months |
|Other Expenses |
|Books, housing, misc. fees |
|books, housing, misc. fees |
|Bachelor’s degree |
|Associate’s degree |
|Diploma or certificate of completion |
Comparing the Cost of Trade School vs College
While the average cost for a four-year college is listed at $9,410 per year, most graduates actually end up paying around $127,000 for their degree! Of those, at least 20% graduate with more than $50,000 in debt and nearly 6% graduate from a four-year university with over $100,000 in student loan debt. How many years of work will it take to pay that off?
Enrolling in Trade School vs College
When compared to the traditional college application process, getting into a trade school can be a much quicker process. Rather than applying and waiting weeks or months to hear back from a traditional four-year college, most trade school applicants can talk almost immediately with a member of the Admissions Team. For example, MTI does not require an application as part of the enrollment process.
Trade school applicants will learn what qualifications are required to enroll (like a GED or equivalent), arrange a campus tour, choose a program, and select a start date.
Who Should Consider Trade School Instead of College?
Perhaps the two most important factors to keep in mind when weighing trade school vs college is the cost and time commitment you are willing to make for career training. If you’re looking for a faster track to a new career and don’t want to assume a lot of student debt, trade school could be a great option.
You can decide how much time you want to spend in school and plan your training accordingly. A 6-month to 1-year program at a trade school can have you ready for entry-level employment as a welder or HVAC/R Technician, for example.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is flexibility. Most trade schools offer classes year-round, which means you don’t have to wait for one semester to end and another to begin before you can start your training. Because many trade schools also offer day and evening classes, it’s easier to fit your schooling in without causing unnecessary disruption to your home and work life.
Another advantage of a trade school over traditional college is the career-focused training. At most four-year colleges, you’ll be required to take two years of prerequisites before you can start focusing on your major.
At a trade school however, hands-on training begins day one. Keeping the educational focus strictly on career training can allow trade schools to prepare students for a new career in less time and at a lower cost.
What Are Good Trades to Get Into?
Electrician: Work in a variety of settings installing, maintaining and repairing electrical systems. Job growth will be faster-than-average (10%) through 2028 with a median yearly wage of $55,190 in May 2018. 
Why Trade School May be a Better Fit for You Than a 4-Year College
If you like the thought of working with your hands and staying busy, a career in the skilled trades can be a rewarding option. For instance, becoming an HVAC technician would allow you to get into a growing field with earning potential and job opportunities. 
Trade schools are also a great choice for visual learners who retain information by seeing and doing, as opposed to sitting in a classroom. Vocational school programs can provide the type of hands-on training students need to enter the workforce with skills and confidence.
If you want to learn more about attending trade school and what to expect, fill out the form below to connect with the Admissions Team at your local MTI campus.