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Types of Trade Schools and Other Important Information

the different types of trade or technical schools

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about trades schools and skilled trades.

Skilled-based learning and education are viable post-secondary options, and skilled tradesmen and women are desperately needed to bridge the gap that is growing in many industries such as construction and medical.

Unfortunately, not everybody knows what trade school is, or what types of careers these places have to offer.

What is a Trade School?

Trade school is a beast (in the very best way) of many names. It can also be called technical school, vocational school, or career college. They are, however, one and the same.

The true definition of trade school is, according to the online dictionary, Merriam-Webster; “a secondary school teaching the trades.” Also, “a school in which people learn how to do a job that requires special skills.”

Which, in turn begs the question, “What are the trades?”

Trades are “a skilled job, typically one requiring manual skills and special training.”

Good examples of the careers in the trades are:

—the list goes on. There are dozens upon dozens of trade school program options!

There are so many benefits to choosing the trade school route. Flex scheduling, career-focused classes, smaller class sizes, and shorter programs that get you into the workforce faster. Most of these programs also offer internships and job placement assistance.

Everything about trade school makes so much sense in today’s job market, where competition for one “bachelor’s or master’s degree required” position is super fierce. With most trade skills, you graduate from your program and go right into a job. It’s all very no fuss!

Different Types of Trade Schools

Trade schools come in all different shapes and sizes. Some schools have a bunch of different programs you can choose from, while others are hyper-specialized in one or two areas of the skilled trades.

There are some trade schools specifically for mechanics and some for medical and nursing programs. Maybe you want an HVAC/r school or perhaps one that focuses only on cosmetology or criminal justice.

There are even some schools offering programs that can be completed entirely online, or on the weekends—even just the evenings!

Because there are so many trade programs and schools out there, do your research before making your final choice.

Once you start narrowing down the choices that seem like a good fit for you, you can meet with a program guidance counselor, who can help you further.

Some different types of trade schools:

Health and medical trade schools, where you can train for a rewarding career in the medical, dental, or other health-related industries.

Cosmetology schools are a perfect career choice if hair, makeup, and nails are a few of your favorite things. Especially after you’ve beautified them. You can look into these schools for outstanding cosmetology training.

Criminal justice schools, where you can train to become a paralegal, or law enforcement, homeland security, or for any of the other many kinds of positions in the field.

Culinary schools will bring out the best and most creative chef in you. You’ll learn to create everything from mouth-watering main dishes to delectable desserts with any of these fine programs.

Emergency services schools are perfect for people wanting to be first responders such as EMT and paramedics.

Computer and IT schools will train you for positions such as an audiovisual technician, or an IT technician, to name a few careers that are always in demand.

CDL training will allow you to hit that open road as a truck driver. With the driver shortage only growing larger, you’ll easily find a job once you’re qualified.

Massage therapy teaches you the art of healing through touch. You'll be trained in one or more of the modalities.

Welding training will teach you different techniques you can specialize in.

HVAC/R schools get you heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician training. It’s a cool career, and the job market is hot right now (See what we did there?).

Automotive technician training is where you’ll learn to work on cars, boats, motorcycles, or any other type of vehicle.

Electrical is what powers us up, and you’ll be trained how to keep more than just the lights on.

Whether you choose to go to a school or find an apprenticeship, most of the skilled trades are desperate for qualified employees to step in and fill the increasing void.

What Does Accredited Mean?

You may notice (or maybe not) some colleges advertise the fact that they’re accredited. That means some sort of peer board from a private agency has reviewed the facility and found that it meets whatever standards the judging body has set.

Accreditation has nothing to do with the Department of Education. It’s completely voluntary, and it’s the Council for Higher Education that heads up this effort. Each state is in charge of accrediting its own schools. And just because a school is approved for accreditation doesn’t mean it actually is accredited.

Some important reasons to go to an accredited school are:

  • Your grades will be able to transfer to other schools.
  • You’ll have access to scholarships and grants.
  • You can be assured the school meets quality standards.
  • You’re eligible to sit for certification exams.

Going to a non-accredited school may hamper your academic and career success. It’s important to know whether the school you’re considering has been accredited by a legitimate agency.

Schools that are accredited nationally are usually for-profit. Although many for-profits have a bad reputation, there are some really great ones out there.

Just be very cautious of diploma mills or schools that offer your diploma or degree in a short amount of time. There is NO shortcut to getting properly educated.

One way to make sure that the school you’re looking at is accredited is to check its website. Or, just ask!

How do I Get Into Trade School?

Not unlike colleges and universities, there are some steps you must take in order to get into any accredited trade schools. While the admission requirements aren’t as strict as universities, they still have a process that must be followed.

Trade school admissions steps to take:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED. Most trade schools will not accept you if you don’t have one or the other.
  • Find a trade school that offers the program you’re looking for. Make sure it’s conveniently located, so you’ll actually be able to get there!
  • Fill out the application before registration deadline. Each school has its own dates, so check the website of the school you’re planning on attending for more information.
  • Most likely, go through an admissions interview. Be prepared by knowing what trade you’re looking to get into. If you have no clue about what you’re looking for, they’ll be able to help you figure it out.
  • Take an admissions test, if applicable. It helps the school determine best placement for you. However, there may be a minimum score you’ll have to get in order to gain entrance to the trade school.
  • Ask any other questions you might have to the admissions department of the school you’re thinking about going to!


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