Trade Schools: What Is It & What Careers Can You Have

trade school careers

What are Trade Schools?

Trade schools, which are sometimes called vocational schools, are typically  two-year colleges, however it can be anywhere from 3 months to 1 year, offering targeted, rapid education paths to in-demand jobs. While four-year colleges offer broad education with a focus on a specific subject, trade schools offer only the classes that focus on that subject.

Types of Trade School Degrees & the Careers You Can Have After

online trade schoolsThere are many types of degree options that trade schools offer. Some schools offer diplomas, while others offer certificates and associates degrees. There are also a number of programs that trade schools typically offer. These include

  • Computer Repair
  • Electrician
  • HVAC training
  • HVAC/R training
  • Automotive mechanic
  • Desktop support
  • Bookkeeping/General Accounting
  • Carpentry
  • Apparel design
  • Cosmetology
  • Massage therapy
  • Hospitality management
  • Plumbing
  • Carpentry
  • Welding
  • Masonry
  • Culinary Arts
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Personal finance
  • Fashion design
  • Personal training
  • Bartending
  • Office management
  • Nurse assisting
  • LPN nursing
  • Dental Assisting
  • Special Effects
  • Software & Programming Certification (e.g. HTML programming)
  • Media Arts (e.g. Photoshop)
  • Business fundementals

2 Year Trade School Degrees vs College Bachelor’s Degrees:

Which is better for you?

The wage difference is narrower in some occupations but much wider in others. Let’s compare some 2013 average starting salaries for two-year and four-year degree holders.

Bachelor’s degree – $53,500
Associate degree – $34,000

Bachelor’s degree – $41,200
Associate degree – $35,000

Computer Sciences
Bachelor’s degree – $64,100
Associate degree – $38,000

Elementary School Teacher
Bachelor’s degree – $39,000
Associate degree – $23,000

Bachelor’s degree – $52,000
Associate degree – $45,000

trade careersTwo-year associate degrees are available in many specialized careers that pay high salaries and are in growing demand. Paralegals, for example, graduate in two years and earn an average of $47,000 per year. Dental hygienists average over $70,000 per year. Medical records technicians average $34,000 per year to start.

Almost every field has an associate degree opportunity, and many associate degrees can be earned online without physically attending a school. This is great for people who need to work while getting their degree or wish to take classes at a slower pace.

For many people, two-year degrees are the smart choice. They open careers sooner and provide good pay with only half the educational requirements of four-year schools.


Career Outlook
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  • Top 5 Cities and States for Employment
  • Number of People Employed
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Find the schools and courses that match your career goals.

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