You always figured your child would take the typical path from kindergarten through college. But, not all kids are easily pigeonholed, including yours.
Junior has been talking about skilled trades programs even though you were really hoping to have a doctor in the family. Princess is thinking she wants to go into welding, despite those liberal art college brochures you’ve been leaving on her pillow, and the 12 years of ballet you paid for.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to do postsecondary education, but we parents want what’s best for our unique snowflakes. It’s exactly for that reason we need to listen to them and respect their thoughts. We know them well, but they know themselves even better.
If you don’t know what trade school is, or you think it’s for losers and failures, then it’s time for you to be schooled.
Trade school is for everyone—period. Almost every “career” has a two-year (or less) degree or diploma equivalent.
Your kid likes the idea of becoming an engineer, but is terrified at the prospect of going to college for more than four years? Engineering tech programs at your local community college offer entry into the field with a salary that’s equivalent to that of a bachelor’s degree graduate.
Or, you have a kid interested in law, but with no desire to go through law school. Well, paralegal or court reporter education takes two years.
Nursing takes two years. Physical therapy tech? Yep, you guessed it, two years.
All are respectable career choices that come with a great paycheck, without falling into the debt of despair.
There are so many options out there to set your child on a successful life path that there’s absolutely no need to classify them the way their schools have done their entire lives. To get a deeper understand of trade schools and all they can offer your student, we invite you to read this article, “The Thinking Parent’s Guide To Trade School,” to help you help your child make the best possible life decision.
While Still In High School
Has your child brought up the fact they’re thinking of skilled trades professions? Do you chuckle to yourself because their experience has been limited to YouTube videos and school electives? Well, stop laughing and start encouraging! There are some things you can do to make sure the interest they’re showing now will be a fit for their future.
- Look at your school district’s vocational education offerings. Career tech education curriculums are in almost every area. You can call the school district office for guidance.
- Find out about dual enrollment with the community college near you; many of them allow high school students to take classes.
- Check out the trade unions. Your child may be able to score an apprenticeship in the field he or she is interested in. Some unions also offer classes, so it could be a good way to get a taste of the field.
- Internships or apprenticeships can really help make or break your child’s career idea.
Helping Your Kid Choose A Direction
Your kid can’t decide between college or trade school and is relying on you to guide them in the best direction possible? They don’t want to disappoint you, but it’s their life, and they want to feel happy and successful. If they think that means going into a skilled trade, then help them figure out which one.
Your child is not going to be a failure because of not getting a bachelor’s degree or higher. In fact, the opposite is true: They’ll have an easier time finding a job and earning a paycheck in their chosen field than their friends who are going to a four-year college. The best thing you can do for your child is to encourage them to pursue a career that they’ll look forward to doing every day.
- Looking at the options: A bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean automatic job placement. Skilled trade training, however, almost guarantees it.
- Live in reality: What makes the most sense for your child? Is he a good candidate for a successful completion of a bachelor’s degree, or is she better suited for a dental hygiene career? Don’t cloud your judgement based on your own preference; look at the whole objective picture of your child and guide from him or her from there.
- Picking the proper environment: Accredited programs, apprenticeships through contractors or trade unions, and community college are solid ways to learn a trade. Community college offers two-year programs, and trade schools may take a lot less time. All costs vary. So, when choosing the best path for your kid, take factors such as time and money into consideration.
- Visit the schools: It’s highly encouraged to visit the different campuses to get an idea of which one is best suited for your kid.
- Compare the costs and programs of schools: The tuition and other costs associated with the training may be a determining factor. Every school has different price tags along with ‘hidden costs’ like fees for the health center, athletic center, technology fees, and more which can add to the bottom dollar.
- Know what you can afford: Debt can be hard to get out from under. There is a college debt epidemic and it’s crushing families all over the country. Many schools offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid packages that can help with epic tuition costs. Take into account what your kid is considering as a career, and weigh that salary potential against what paying the loans back looks like. School websites have a tuition calculator on their site, and it’s highly encouraged to use it so you can figure out if that school or program is even doable financially.
About Trade Schools
Parents, there are so many benefits to having a kid interested in going into a trade.
Shorter time: Depending on what career your child is thinking about, and what program they’re considering going through, it can last anywhere from a few months to two years, not including apprenticeships that some trades require.
Better on the bank account: University tuition for the four-plus years can cost upwards of $20K per year. If loans are needed, then you and your child will be left with a significant amount to pay back. Trade school is so much shorter, and the cost is less prohibitive. Even if a loan is necessary, it’s still going to be a lot less.
Employment opportunities abound: The job market is tough, and it’s hard to find a job in many fields, leaving bachelor degree holders working retail and living at home. It’s a completely different outlook for most of the skilled trades. Employers are desperate to fill positions with skilled workers, but the potential employee pool is very limited. In short, kids going into skilled trades almost always find a job upon receiving their certification or diploma. And, they are starting to out-earn bachelor degree holders.
Get ‘em out of the house: Competitive salaries through trade jobs will allow your child a sustainable living. This means, whether you’re ready or not, an empty nest is just a few paychecks away.
Making a difference: Some careers are suffering from a lack of qualified people entering the field. If your child it thinking about becoming a nurse, plumber, welder, or many other careers, then they are helping our country in countless ways.
Degrees are available: If a bachelor degree is something you’re set on your child getting, then this could be a win-win in your case. Universities offer bachelor programs in many careers that could be considered trades, such as electrical, nursing, and even plumbing.
The bonus for kids going to a trade schools is they are almost guaranteed to finish and step directly into a well-paying career. Not the same thing can be said for university graduates.