Trade school or college: which is better?

Many students who are in their last year in high school normally have problems choosing which form of higher education to get. They have heard many things about trade Schools and colleges. Some have to ask questions like which is better, trade school or college? Should I go to trade school or college?

These questions about which school to attend after high school are good and looking for the best answer like the ones you will in this article will be very rewarding. So I urge you to continue reading to the last word in this article.

Sometimes, those who ask these questions have not chosen which career they want to pursue. But those who already have passion for certain careers will not know which of the schools will give them the best exposure.

Some students who are good in stem subjects in high school, like mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology will be interested in having a degree in such professions like engineering, medicine and more and others in arts class might want to be a lawyer but don’t know which to choose from trade school and college.

Others might prefer to be experts in a specific field of work and still haven’t made the right choice. So let us get to understand what trade school and college will offer to you and this will help you to make the right decision.


Why choose college over trade school

Both colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to develop hard and soft skills while earning academic degrees. While at the university or college, there are always many academic disciplines and students are required to choose one from them known as a major. 

In most of the college’s, students are subjected to take many courses that are related to their major to help them have a wide knowledge of their profession for about two years before niching down a specific major. While at the college, you will learn industry-specific skills in your field, but also practice more abstract skills, such as problem solving and analytical thinking.

Students who major in professional courses like computer science, communication, arts, engineering will graduate in four years on average and receive a diploma or degree.  They may also study for licensure exams depending on their field. Some college graduates choose to further their education by pursuing advanced degrees beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Why choose trade school over college?

 Vocational school, as it is commonly known, trade school provides students with a career-focused training program in a specific skill. Students who attends trade school are trained in tough skills like those in health care, manufacturing, technology, construction and more. Trade students are giving the ability to receive high powered skill, hand on training and experience in their field of study. With the combination of classroom and practical training, you will come out well equipped to tackle any type of job you will face.

For example, trade students who major in construction can serve as apprentice with construction companies while still in school and also those in medical class will work for some hours in clinics.

Unlike colleges, trade schools do not usually offer general education or liberal arts classes because they are geared toward providing skills and training for specific professions. Like college students, trade school students may receive a diploma after completing their program, or they may earn an industry-relevant certificate. Many trade students will be prepared to enter the workforce immediately after graduation, while others will have to enroll in other preparation programs or study for licensure exams.

Should I go to trade school or college?

The higher education you will choose to go, with college or trade school will depend solely on what you want to be after graduation. What you desire to be in the future will help you determine if you should go to university or apply for a trade school.

As I have stated above, if you want to major in a professional career that involves logical and analytical thinking, then college will be the best for you. Also in college, you will have the opportunity to have knowledge on courses or fields that are closely related to your profession.

Also if you want to be an expert in a specific skill or field of study like plumbing, Mason or carpenter, going to trade school will be the best for you.

What are the differences between trade school and college?

Both colleges and trade Schools are great centers for acquiring good knowledge. There are some specific things that distinguish them from each other. This attribute of these institutions did not in any way make them less important than the other or something of that nature. Below are areas where trade is different from college.

Admission application

After you graduate from High School and you are applying for any college, there are many things you need to do. College admission applications are very complex and you need to fill multiple dorms, write application essays and submit SAT and ACT scores to be considered. 

Most times, students are required to submit college applications in their junior or senior year of high school and this includes high school test scores, transcripts, relevant recommendations and essays. 

Additionally, prospective college students typically need to submit expansive resumes that detail their participation in extracurricular activities, volunteer projects and after-school jobs.

In contrast to the college admission application, trade schools do not need you to submit ACT and SAT scores or write multiple essays before they will be admitted. You can enroll in trade school right after graduating from high school since you are only needed to submit your high school diploma as a prerequisite.

Program length

College programs require that students spend an average of four years in the school. This is basically due to the curriculum that requires you to attend some other classes that are related to you. 

While trade schools are shorter as most of the courses are for one or two years. By focusing on a career-intensive curriculum, trade schools help students enter the workforce as soon as they’re able to and this makes their stay in the school very short when compared to Universities.


Programs that are offered in trade schools are designed to produce job ready graduates and as such its courses are shorter, job oriented curriculum. Students are exposed to a lot of practical training that makes them ready for the job outside but unlike colleges, they are not exposed to critical thinking and course analysis.

While in college, students are exposed to different programs that are not directly related to them and this will help them gain knowledge on other skills that will aid them develop good knowledge of other disciplines. This opportunity will help them gain what they might never have heard of and help them gain skills that are not on their career path.

Also, these experiences can help college students develop critical thinking skills, cultural awareness and diverse knowledge due to associating with people from all kinds of life.

Tuition fees and Cost

College tuition, which offers degrees in four years programs, is very expressive when compared to trade Schools. The cost of college goes from $15,000 upto $60,000 annually depending on the college. Though there are scholarship opportunities provided by either the college or the government.

Unlike college tuition fees which are very expressive, trade schools are cheap and as low as $5,000. Depending on the trade school you choose, some public trade Schools like the community colleges might receive a lesser amount of money annually.

Job opportunities and salaries

Most of the programs offered in trade Schools are high in demand and as such there is a job for you after you graduate. There are many careers here that you can be paid very high like Air traffic controllers and dental hygienists but cannot be compared to college graduates. Trade school professionals are paid less than those that attend Colleges.

Why don’t more people go into vocational / trade schools

As we have seen from above, there is generally nothing wrong with going to trade Schools. You can get paid well and there are high in demand jobs for those who went to trade Schools. But Why don’t more people go into vocational / trade schools?

Trade school career is limited

With trade school being Skill-specific in training, this will limit the abilities of the students to just one skill. Due to this one-dimensional skill set, one can only be skillful in certain fields, therefore reducing the opportunities in finding jobs as their job horizon has been streamlined. This can also be seen as why trade Schools are bad.


The salary for most of the skills acquired through the trade Schools are normally less than their peers who attended colleges. Though there are some programs that are paid well even with a diploma from a trade school, generally speaking, it is low. This means that one with a diploma from a trade school will not be aiming to be among the top bosses in the economy.


Most of the jobs you get as a trade school graduate is always a hard job. Plumbers, Mason’s and others always carry heavy tools and materials everyday and this negatively affects their health later on the day. For example, you will not find a Mason or plumber working when they are above 70 years but it is possible when you attend college.

Why trade schools are better than college

Though there are things that make trade school less significant to Colleges but there are still fine reasons while trade is better than colleges.

Short time spent in school.

Most trade school programs will run from one year to two years and this is a plus to students. This short period of time you will be in school will help you be fast as you enter the labor market very fast and start making money.

Cost of tuition

The condensed academic calendar which makes it take a short period of time will reduce the number of tuition you will need to pay. Unlike colleges that last for an average of 4 years, trade school is 2 years and it’s a plus to you.

Also, trade Schools are normally cheap so as to accommodate those who can’t afford college education.

Low dropped out students

Over 40% of undergraduates in Colleges normally drop out. There is a high level of people who are losing interest in the College courses and they will not get any degree at all.

This is not the case in trade Schools, since the program is always short and hand on training, students are going to be bored and you will enjoy it so no need to drop.

High job demand

There are millions of houses today that need to be taken care of or repaired. If you have a skill that is carried out in buildings, then you don’t need to worry about getting a job after graduation because there is a job already available.

Who makes more money between college graduates and trade school graduates?

Generally, people who are trained professionals from Colleges are paid higher than those that have a trade school diploma. Though they are skills you acquire from trade Schools and you will be paid very high such as air traffic controller and dental hygienist.

From above, we can say that college graduates makes more money than trade school graduates.