Following the completion of either high school or a GED program, you'll have several opportunities available for your future career. Higher education in the form of college or a university is one option. There are likely colleges near where you live, or you can go out of state to a different educational institution (although it costs substantially more to go out of state). Joining up with the military is another choice where you can learn several beneficial skills and traits and take advantage of its additional benefits. Another option is a trade school, but what is a trade school?

If you're interested in working after high school but don't want to enroll in the military and don't want a full four-year degree program this is where trade school could be your solution. Trade schools provide several benefits that may fit your exact needs where these other options do not. After all, college, an extended university program, or the military is not always going to be the best fit, and yet you may still want to increase your earning potential versus just taking any job after school is complete. With all of this in mind, it's important to know what is a trade school, it's benefits, and how to apply as it can help decide your future.

What Is a Trade School?

students discussing "what is a trade school"

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When you go to a college or university, you're enrolling in a generalized program (at least this is the case for your bachelor's degree). You will learn the traits to be successful in the profession although you do not receive as much specialized education. If you're interested in taking on a position in a business, you may learn different aspects of working in a business, but it's not until you enroll in a Master's program (or higher) where you receive specific training for a more specialized approach.

With a trade school, you learn more about a specific trade. A trade is a skill you can use anywhere. For example, this can work such as a plumber or an electrician. You might want to learn how to work on cars, so you go to a mechanic trade school. There are several trade schools, many of which focus on working with your hands. Trade positions are almost always going to be in demand, so you're learning a skill that will go a long way in connecting you with a career.

Additionally, in most instances, after completing trade school you can remain in the immediate area, or you can move elsewhere. Although depending on the trade, you might need to apply for a new state certification if you move out of state (for example, if you go to a cosmetology school and move out of state you likely must apply for a new license when you leave). So for seeking a specific profession after high school considering a trade school may



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When you're considering what to do after graduation or after you finish your GED program, you may weigh your options. And there are several benefits connected with going to trade school that can help make it outweigh the other options. Even if you eventually want to go to college, you may find going to trade school first and working in a profession before enrolling in college may be beneficial, as you'll be able to make money while you go to college. Whatever you decide to do, keep these different benefits in mind when looking at what is a trade school and how it can help you.

Shorter Time in School

One of the main differences when looking at what is a trade school is the time you'll attend the school. There are several degree types at school. There is an associate's degree, which is two years in college, but an associate degree may do little to open job possibilities. The vast majority of jobs that want a degree on the resume requires at least a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree can be earned in four years. After that, a Master's degree is often another two years, resulting in a full six years (minimum) of being in college.

If you are then interested in going after your Ph.D., you then must remain in school likely for at least another two years, if not more. In reality, your time in college can add up to a decade. Yes, you will probably make a considerable more amount of money, but that's also a full decade before you can really start your career. This may not be the best option for you. After all, you may find that during this time you enjoy doing something else.

With a trade school, most programs last less than two years total. Many are 18 months or even less than that. This way, you can receive your education and enter the work field. When you first begin looking for work out of trade school, you'll likely make more right out of the gate than someone with a bachelor's degree. A college degree usually takes a while to pay off too, so you might end up earning more than friends who attended college.

Little to No Debt

If there is one thing you want to know regarding what is a trade school, it is the overall cost of enrolling and finishing up the school. The cost, when compared to college, is a fraction of what you'd pay. It is possible to graduate from your trade school with little to no debt. Even if you take out a small loan for the trade school, this will probably be a few thousand dollars. When enrolling in a college, you'll likely pay a few thousand dollars per class you take.

Most who graduate with a bachelor's degree end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and that's for those who remain in state at a public university. For those who enrolled in a private school or an out-of-date school, there's a good chance they graduate with a six-figure debt.

Starting life out in massive debt will make doing just about anything difficult. It makes starting a family, buying a house or even purchasing a car difficult. Loan companies may not offer mortgages or car loans because of the massive student loan debt. Additionally, a student loan cannot be forgiven during a bankruptcy, which means this is a debt you will be stuck with forever until you pay it off. If you're interested in starting out on the right foot with little to no debt, trade school may be the best option for you.

Skills You Can Use Anywhere

While considering what is a trade school you need to look at where you can use the education. After you finish your trade school program, you likely can take your knowledge anywhere. Whether you went to school to become an electrician, to work on cars, or to become a plumber, you can take this knowledge wherever you like. Whether you want to work in California or Maine, Florida or Michigan, you can take this education with you. At most, you must apply for a new license in the state, which is little more than taking a nearly identical test you took to get the certification the first time around.

Your High School Career Doesn't Matter

If you want to go to college, you need to do well in high school. Even if you put in your best effort in high school, you may not get into your college of choice. That's a difficult pill to swallow. You can do your very best for four years, take up all the extra-curricular activities and sports while taking AP classes in high school, and yet you may still not get into the college you want.

One of the top benefits when looking into what is a trade school is it doesn't matter what you did in high school. If you graduated high school that's usually enough. Many high schools close to community college and trade schools may even offer free trade school training while in the last year of high school. This way, you can get a further leg up on life while still in high school.

If you didn't finish high school, you must enroll in a GED program. Once you pass your GED program, you'll be able to apply for and enroll in the trade school.

How to Apply

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Now that you know what is a trade school you must know how to apply. The application process will vary from school to the next so make sure you look into the application requirements carefully. Usually, you need a transcript from your high school or GED program to show you have an efficient education. You may need to be 18 years of age. Follow the requirements for the school to complete the application process as long as you do you shouldn't have any trouble enrolling.


College isn't for everyone, so if you want to improve your earning potential after high school but don't want to enroll in a college or university consider a trade school. With a trade school, you'll learn insights into a valuable profession. With this knowledge, you're able to go anywhere and work anywhere. So if you're ready to take your earning possibilities to the next level without setting yourself back with massive college debt, now may be the perfect time to consider a trade school.

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