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Types of Trade Schools and Other Important Information

Types of Trade Schools

Trade school programs are one of the fastest ways to train for a new career, and many trades are high paying.

Yet, not everybody knows what trade school is, or what lucrative careers trades have to offer.

What is a Trade School?

Trade school goes by multiple names. It can be called technical school, vocational school, or career college. Trade schools are secondary schools designed to prepare you for a career in the skilled trades.

The skilled trades are fields that require a particular set of knowledge on the job. Most trades have an element of hands-on work on various job sites in new locations, a great option for people who don't want to report to the same cubicle every day.

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 benefits to choosing trade school over a traditional college program. Typically, students can become career-ready with minimal debt compared to a university, and with training in 9-12 months vs. 4 years.

Trade schools offer:

  • Flexible scheduling and night and weekend classes
  • Career-focused material (few to no general education courses)
  • Smaller class sizes with hands-on learning
  • Shorter programs that get you into the workplace faster (earning money sooner)

Trade school is an excellent option in today's job market. Those who received college degrees are often met with difficulty when applying for a job after school. Many trades, on the other hand, require apprenticeships after school. Apprenticeships are paid positions where you work under the guidance of an experienced professional in your trade. Often these apprenticeships can lead to jobs.

Even for trades that do not require apprenticeships, many trade schools still offer job placement services.

Different Types of Trade School Careers

Trade schools come in all different sizes. Some schools have a dozen or more career 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 one that focuses only on cosmetology or criminal justice.

Because there are so many trade programs and schools out there, you likely have one in your area offering a program you want. There's no need to attend school out of state, ranking up more costs, when you can attend a program a short distance from your home. Some schools offer programs that can be done entirely online!

Some different types of trade schools:

Health and medical trade schools help you train for a rewarding career in the medical, dental, or other health-related industries. Many allied health and dental training programs can be completed in approximately 10 months or fewer.

Cosmetology schools are a perfect choice if hair, makeup, and nails are a few of your favorite things. You can look into these schools for outstanding cosmetology training. Most cosmetology training programs can be completed in as few as 9 months.

Criminal justice schools, where you can train to become a paralegal, or enter law enforcement, homeland security, or for any other position in the field. Many criminal justice training programs can be completed in as few as 9 months.

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. Culinary training programs, depending on the career focus, can be completed in as few as 10 months.

Emergency services schools are perfect for people wanting to be first responders such as EMT and paramedics. Many EMT training programs can be finished in 9 months or fewer.

Computer and IT schools will train you for positions such as an audiovisual technician, or an IT technician, to name a few.

CDL training will allow you to hit that open road as a truck driver. With the driver shortage only growing larger, it's a great time to consider truck driving. Many CDL-A training programs can be completed in as few as 3-6 weeks.

Massage therapy teaches you the art of healing through touch. You'll be trained in one or more of the modalities. Many massage training programs can be completed in as few as 10 months.

Welding training will teach you the different techniques you can specialize in during your career. Many welding training programs can be completed in as few as 10 months.

HVAC/R schools give you heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician training. Many HVAC tech training programs can be completed in as few as 6 months.

Automotive technician and diesel mechanic training will teach you to work on cars, boats, motorcycles, or any other type of vehicle. Many mechanic training programs can be completed in as few as 10 months.

Electrical training powers communities up, and you’ll be trained on how to keep more than just the lights on. Many electrician training programs can be completed in as few as 10 months.

How do I Get into Trade School?

Like colleges and universities, there are some steps you must take in order to get into trade schools. Admission requirements are very manageable.

Trade school admissions steps to take:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED. Some trade schools offer programs to help you complete a GED.
  • Find a trade school that offers the program you’re looking for.
  • Fill out an application. An admissions representative can provide assistance if needed.
  • Go through an admissions interview, if required.
  • Take an admissions test, if applicable. It helps the school determine best placement for you.

What Does Accredited Mean?

You may notice some trade schools showcase their accreditation. Accreditation means a peer board from a private agency has reviewed the facility and found that it meets standards the judging body has in place.

Accreditation is voluntary, and it’s the Council for Higher Education that heads up this effort. Each state is in charge of accrediting its own schools.

Some important reasons to go to an accredited trade 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 industry standards.
  • You’re eligible to sit for certification exams (some of which you need to work in the field you are pursuing).

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.

Check a school's website to find accreditation.

Or, you browse through our partner schools. Every school we partner with is accredited, so you can focus on what matters most — finding the program and school best for you and your goals.