The IMBC Blog

Is Trade School Right for You? (Compared to the Alternatives)

Making a major life decision can be both a fulfilling and rewarding experience regardless of where you are in your life. Generally, one of the greatest decisions that we have to make is the one regarding our education. That said, it can be challenging to determine which of the many different education options works best for you. 

Welding, grinding metal.
Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

Luckily, trade school has a lot to offer prospective students. From learning a valuable and marketable trade to earning a degree, trade school benefits are significant. However, that does not mean it is the right choice for you. You might even be considering the popular alternatives to trade school like attending a traditional four-year college and earning your bachelor’s degree or heading right into the workforce of your chosen field.  

Regardless, it is important to make an informed decision. Here is everything you need to know about trade school and its alternatives. 

What is Trade School?

A trade school is a post-secondary school (a fancy term for a school you attend after you earn your high school diploma or GED) where students receive an education in the technical skills needed to perform a specific job (or trade). Trade schools are often referred to as vocational or technical schools. 

Common trade school degree programs include automotive technician, welding, medical office administrator, business administration, and information technology. However, there are many more programs available in various formats spanning from completely in-person to completely online. There are many trade school programs across the country, some of which are offered by large national universities, while others are offered at smaller regional schools.

The length of your trade school program will depend on the program’s curriculum and your course schedule, but you can generally expect your program to last for at least a year, with many programs lasting one-and-a-half to two years’ completion time. However, many programs are flexible and allow you to complete your degree at your own pace.

College classroom
Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

Trade School Alternatives

There is no denying that trade school is an excellent choice for an individual looking to earn an education in the technical profession of their choice. 

However, trade school is just one of the many options available to individuals looking to advance their education or career. It is essential that you choose one that works best for you and your goals. Here is a look at the two most common alternatives to trade school to help you in your decision-making process. 

Four-Year School

A traditional four-year school is a post-secondary school where students are taught a broad range of subjects to earn a degree. Though you may attend a four-year school that offers associate or master’s degrees through their distinct programs, the most commonly achieved degree level at these schools is the bachelor’s degree

Generally, a four-year school provides students with a broader education over a longer period. Not only are you typically required to take courses that are directly related to your chosen degree, major, or field, but you will also have to take general education (gen ed) courses. Gen ed courses and requirements vary by school. In some cases, you can bypass some of these requirements by taking advanced placement (AP) courses and exams during your high school years. 

Overall, a four-year school has a broader education scope than that of a trade school because it is not focused solely on skills and information related to your chosen field of study. It remains the country’s most popular choice for post-secondary education attainment, though this is largely attributed to outdated ideas regarding the job market

Heading Straight to the Workforce

This option works best for individuals who are interested in fields with a low barrier to entry. Ideally, the time commitment for heading straight to the workforce is just a few months. However, in practice, you might find that the competition from those who have completed some form of post-secondary education is difficult to overcome. 

Many hiring managers look at post-secondary education as a means for candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills within the field or position. Without it, you may have to work harder to get a job while appearing “less-qualified.” 

Fortunately, there are many benefits to this approach, as well. Most notably, once you land a job, you begin to earn an income immediately. Even if it takes you over a year to land a job, you will likely have done it faster than your peers in the same position who have chosen to earn a post-secondary education.

Additionally, you earn invaluable on-the-job experience and can immediately begin networking once you have chosen a field and position. Overall, heading straight to the workforce can be the ideal route for a determined individual who can overcome the traditional barriers to entry, such as a degree, by focusing on skills and certifications instead.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Is Trade School Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your personal preference and circumstance. There are obvious benefits to attending a trade school, in the same way that there are obvious benefits to choosing one of the alternatives. However, here are some important things to consider when deciding whether trade school is right for you:

  • Flexibility: Trade school can be offered online or in-person, depending on the program, and typically allows students the flexibility to finish their program at their own pace.
  • Career Direction: With a trade school, you can cut out the excess and focus on learning specialized hands-on skills that are directly related to your trade. Not only does this save you time, but it puts you in a great position to succeed in your chosen field.
  • Earn While You Learn: Generally, trade school programs grant you a full-time student’s education without the time commitment. The free time and flexibility allow you to earn an income while you further your education. Or, you can use the time to care for your family.

Why Choose IMBC as your Trade School?

Choosing trade school is often the most surefire way to ensure that you put yourself in the best position to maximize your educational investment and attain a job upon graduation. That said, choosing the right school with reputable programs is the first step. IMBC has a lot to offer prospective students, and we invite you to find out more. 

From an array of trade school programs to the extensive resources that students have access to, IMBC cares greatly about its students. Interested? Learn more about what IMBC can offer you today!