Does a Trade Career Make Sense for Me?

A career in the trades gets a bit of a bad rap these days, and a lot of that is due to misconceptions, especially among younger people. For starters, one needs to realize that not only is a trade career gainful employment, it’s not anything like the unskilled labor jobs that a lot of people see as a dead end.


Not only does a trade school graduate automatically become a key part of the economy, they generally get out of their program certified in a special skill, like welding, which earns a respectable salary. Another alternative is being a mechanic. There’s a use for this job in just about any town or city, and specialization, like working on a Nissan Sentra in Santa Ana, will help drive up your asking price in terms of salaries. These are only two examples of the 30 million jobs nationwide that pay an average of $55,000 per year without a bachelor's degree.


The one con, if you can really call it a con, is that trade school means you need to know exactly what you’re going to get from your education before you start. Then again, with student loan prices being what they are, many people would say the same of conventional college as well. However, a more concrete issue is that there may not be the same tier of support and resources that you see at a university. On the other hand, you can start earning a lot quicker and have your earnings count for more. The average trade school program ranges anywhere from eight months to two years. They are also far less expensive than a comparable stay at a college, let alone a four-year program. You may graduate with an associate’s degree or certificate depending on your school and program.


The ultimate goal of any trade school program is getting you to a point where you can either get a job in your field of choice post-graduation or prepare for a licensing exam/apprenticeship (if you are trying to be an electrician for example). This means doing your proper research to see how graduates of any given school do in terms of placement.


Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of trade schools is that there are far fewer hoops to jump through in terms of getting your education. No applications, no extracurricular activity needs, no SAT scores. Your main concerns need to be getting your money for your classes and making the time for your education so you can do well. For many people, this sounds like an appealing trade-off.
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