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What a Trade School Is & How to Apply

What a Trade School Is & How to Apply. Graphic art of a woman viewing a trade school from a distance using binoculars. City horizon in the further distance.

One of the best ways to enter into a career fast is through a trade school. Unlike traditional 4-year colleges, trades schools are designed to give students technical skills to find work in specific trades like welding, medical assisting, and trucking. Though applying to a trade school may seem daunting at first, our step-by-step guide will break it down for you.

What is a Trade School?

Trade schools are designed to teach you everything you need to know to start a certain career. This means if you graduate from trade school, you may not need any prior work experience when searching for your first job! Though many people think of trade schools as only for skilled trades such as HVAC and welding, there are also trade schools for careers such as cosmetology, dental assisting, business, and information technology.

Unlike traditional colleges, trades schools don’t make students take classes that are unrelated to their field of study. This means you focus on what matters most: your career! Programs can last anywhere from 3 months to a few years.

Though each school will vary, the application process for most trades schools is largely as follows:

How to Apply to a Trade School

  1. Choose your career path - Though it sometimes feels like it, there is no single perfect career for you. Everyone has many talents. By reflecting on your likes and dislikes, your skills, and your passions, you can determine which careers you would enjoy doing. For example, If you enjoy working with your hands, building and fixing things, and being active, then a career as an HVAC technician or an electrician may be for you. Welding, plumbing, and construction may also be good choices for you.
  2. Choose your school - When choosing a school, it is important to consider three factors: cost, location, and program. Ideally, a school should be low-cost, close to home, and be accredited. Keep in mind that financial aid may also be available from your chosen institution. We partner with excellent schools to provide low-cost, advanced education to all. Learn more about our partner schools here.
  3. Speak with admissions - The admissions department of your chosen schools will reach out to you and discuss with you their programs. They can answer any questions relating to financial aid, class schedules, timelines, or discuss other programs.
  4. Prepare to apply - The admissions department will inform you of all the necessary requirements needed to apply. Requirements will vary depending on your program of study. Typical requirements usually include having a high school diploma or GED equivalent. If certain specialized certifications or licenses are required, make sure they are up-to-date.
  5. Apply - Applications most commonly ask for basic information such as your legal name, phone number, address, and your level of education. Some, albeit few, applications have short-answer essay questions. The application may ask you to provide transcripts from previous educational institutions or copies of current certifications or licenses you hold. Be sure to pay attention to application deadlines. Though many schools accept rolling applications, others do not. By submitting your application in a timely manner, you can be sure to start training in your desired timeframe.
  6. Prepare for placement exams (if applicable) - Once you are accepted, you may be required to take placement exams. Some trades schools will require you to take placement tests before allowing you to schedule your classes. This is to ensure you are taking classes that are neither too difficult nor too easy for your skill level.
  7. Get Scheduled and Start Classes - Once you have placed into your classes, you can schedule your classes to fit your schedule and begin training for your new career!

No matter what your career goals are, we’re here to help you jump-start your career. You’re sure to find a program that fits your needs. Learn more about different skilled trade and technical programs or browse our local listings to find schools near you.

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