Postsecondary education can propel your career forward and allow you to earn more money. There are many options for post secondary education including trade school. Trade schools are a great option for people who want to continue their education, but maybe not for 4 more years.

So, is trade school actually worth it? This is a complicated question because it relies on so many things. What are you looking to do with your career? What careers interest you? Read on to find out more about trade schools, what kinds programs they offer, and if they are right for you.

The Case for Post Secondary Education


Trade school programs are on average more affordable than 4-year degree programs.

The average cost for a trade school education can be around $33,000, while the average cost of attending a 4-year college is over $102,000. Comparatively, trade schools are a bargain.

Good Job Prospects

Job prospects for many trades jobs are flourishing while few people are stepping up to fill these positions. Skilled trades such as electrician, welding, and HVAC are all in high demand, meaning there are many jobs available or opening up in the near future.

Returns on Investment

A good return on an investment means you receive a good financial return on what you put your money and time into.

Financially, going to trade school makes sense. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2023, workers who only had a high school diploma earned a median wage of $899 each week. In the same period, those who had some college earned $992 and those who had an associate degree earned a median wage of $1,058.

So when comparing a high school education with an associate’s degree education, the difference in pay is $159 per week, or over $8,000 a year.

Earnings and Unemployment Rates by Education

  • Associate Degrees
    • According to the BLS, those with associate degrees earned a median weekly pay of $1,058.
  • Some College, No Degree
    • According to the BLS, those with some college, but no degree earned a median weekly pay of $992.
  • High School Diploma
    • According to the BLS, those with only a high school diploma earned a median weekly pay of $708.

source: BLS

By going to trade school, you can earn more than you would by simply entering the workforce. And, unlike earning a 4-year degree, you can also enter the workforce quickly and you most likely will not need to take on a lot of student loan debt.

What Kinds of Programs are Offered at Trade Schools?

Trade schools offer certificate and associate’s programs that prepare you for jobs in the skilled trades, but they also prepare you for specialized careers that require certifications or 2-year degrees. These include traditional trades like HVAC and plumbing, and medical jobs like medical assisting and dental assisting. You can also attend a trade school to become a paralegal, a cosmetologist, or a truck driver.

Career-First Training

One of the greatest things about going to a trade school is you will only take classes that relate to your career. Typically with a skilled trade program, you don’t take general education classes like math and English. Instead you only focus on what’s important to your future career, saving you time and money.

Is Trade School Right for Me?

Trade schools may be a great option for you if you want fast training for a specific career at any stage of your life. They are also a great option for people looking for affordable training.

Trade schools are also perfect for people who are looking to enter a second career, especially older adult learners. Trade schools are also a great stepping stone for people who want a career that needs more experience or education. With a trade school certificate or degree, you can earn money while you work towards your ultimate goal.

However, there are some things you must consider before enrolling in a trade school.

Firstly, trade schools offer a great stepping stone to many careers, but trades schools do not offer tracks that will explicitly prepare you for programs like a Master’s or PhD, as a 4-year institution would.

Trade school may also not be the best choice for you if you want to develop a broader skill set in your education. Because trade schools are so specialized, they do not generally offer many general education classes. If you are interested in learning about many different things, a trade school education may not be the right route for you.

Ready to get started? Find more information about trade schools near you, the programs they offer, and which one may be right for you.


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