Trades schools are educational institutions that offer training for skilled trades like welding and auto mechanic. However, what you may not know is that trade schools focus on more than just blue collar careers. Many trade schools have expanded their academic programs to include healthcare, business, and IT programs.

Trade schools offer concentrated training, meaning their programs only teach you what you need to know on the job. This means you can potentially spend less time and money at school as opposed to a 4-year degree program at a university.

You can also use trade schools as stepping stones to get into a career path. For example, if you are interested in the healthcare industry, you can start as a dental assistant before you commit to going to school to become a dental hygienist.

What’s the Difference Between a Technical School and a Trade School?

The division between technical and trade schools is somewhat blurred.

Technical schools generally offer more focused, classroom style instruction for entry-level business and technical jobs. However, many technical schools also offer training in the culinary arts, cosmetology, and more.

Trade schools offer hands-on training for skilled trades careers such as welding and plumbing and electrical. However, many trade schools have incorporated technical school style programs into their curricula, so they can offer a wider range of programs. Similarly, many technical schools offer programs that were once only offered at trade schools.

No matter what title the institution uses, going to a trade school or a technical school should yield a great education with similar styles of training.

What Programs are Offered at Trade Schools?

As we previously mentioned, trade schools offer far more than traditional career training. Trade schools typically offer diploma/certificate programs, and many schools are starting to offer associate degrees in many different fields.

Certificate programs are typically short, lasting as few as 6-10 months. These programs only teach you what you need to know on the job. Associate degree programs last about 2 years. In an associate degree program, you may cover many other topics including business classes, English composition, math, and more. The benefit of earning an associate degree is that it may make you more marketable or help you climb the career ladder in the future.
Here are some programs offered at trade schools across the country. Many schools offer both certificate and associate degree programs. It is worth mentioning that the vast majority of business degrees from technical/trade schools are only offered as associate degrees. Pick the path that sounds best for you and your career goals in the future!

Traditional Trades

HVAC – HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. You can become an HVAC technician by attending a trade school. These programs typically cover how heating and cooling systems work in homes and commercial buildings. Some programs also include refrigeration training so you work on various types of refrigerators.

Electrical – Electrical training at a trade school can lead you to many different careers including electrician, lineman, electrical systems technician, and more. In these programs you’ll learn basic electrical theory, wiring/lighting, conduit bending, load calculations, and more.

Welding – Welding is as much a career as it is an art. In welding training, you can learn how to fuse metals together through various welding processes including SMAW, TIG, MIG, and more. Welding training can lead to many exciting career opportunities including pipeline welding, aerospace welding, and nuclear welding.

Mechanic – In mechanic training, you can learn everything you need to know about repairing vehicles and engines. In your training, and your career, you will have the opportunity to specialize in diesel engines, marine engines, motorcycle repair, aircraft maintenance, and more.

Medical Training

Dental Assisting – Dental assistants support dentists and dental hygienists in their work. In dental assistant training, you can learn things like serialization techniques, preparing patients for dental procedures, keeping patient records, assisting in dental procedures, and x-ray processing.

Medical Assisting – Medical assistants intake patients at the beginning of doctor’s appointments, taking vitals and gathering medical history. They can also work with medical lab equipment to take samples from patients for testing. Some medical assistants also perform administrative tasks for medical offices. In medical assisting training, you can learn all aspects of this multifaceted career.


Business Administration – Business administration is a versatile business degree that can open many paths. With an associate degree in business administration you can become an executive assistant, an office manager, a payroll and benefits administrator, and much more. In these programs you can expect to take classes in business ethics, accounting, and project management, among many others.

Accounting – Accounting is the process that businesses use to keep track of their finances. It’s a great career path for anyone who enjoys numbers and is detail-oriented. With an associate degree in accounting, you could become a bookkeeper, a payroll specialist, an accounting clerk, or any related career you choose. Typical classes in an associate accounting degree program include federal and state taxation, payroll, cost accounting, and other business related classes.

IT Programs

Information Technology– Information Technology is a field that includes computer systems, software, data processing, and programming languages. Many businesses rely on computer systems, and IT professionals play a critical role in keeping them running. With an associate degree in information technology, you can pursue a job as a web developer, computer network support specialists, or a computer programmer. You can expect to take classes such as database management, computer programming, and web development.

Computer Science – Computer Science is the study of computers including computation, hardware, software, and the way we interact with computers. Computer science focuses on programming and building computer systems. In these programs you can expect to take classes like C++ programing, computer organization, data structures, and much more. With an associate degree in computer science you can pursue a career as a help desk technician, a software developer, or a computer support specialist.

In conclusion, trade schools offer so much more than just traditional blue collar career training. You can open many doors to great careers and opportunities by enrolling at a local trade school. If you’re read to get started working towards your goals, find a local trade school now!

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