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Considering Trade School Instead Of College?

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Trade School Instead Of College

More than half of high school student goes on to attend a four-year college, but many aren’t seeing the same benefits as their parents did. College students are graduates with debt and struggling to find work. When they do find a job, many are working in fields that don’t require a degree at all. At the same time, by 2021, the jobs in highest demand will be skilled labor: alternative energy technicians, home health aides, and bike mechanics. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the next steps after high school.

The Bachelor’s Degree

Most high school students who go on to university choose a 4-year degree because it’s expected of them, or because they think it’s the logical next step. The two reasons alone are the motivating factor for more than half of university students seeking a bachelor’s degree. But not everyone needs a 4-year degree.

Seeking a bachelor’s degree is the right choice if you’re interested in a field that requires it, or you’re planning on going on to get a master’s or doctorate. Other students might choose this option because they have the time and money to pursue a full-time education for four years, or because they value education as an end in and of itself. But for those who are just looking to get ahead in their career, a community college or trade school might be a better option.

Avoiding Student Debt

Since 1992, the share of students leaving university with more than $50,000 of student loan debt has grown 8.5 times. A bachelor’s degree from an in-state school costs an average of nearly $40,000, plus interest. That’s 82% more than the price of an associate’s degree. And university students don’t have the same freedom to work while in school as offered by many trade schools and community colleges.

After 10 years in the workforce, trade school graduates make just $1300 less per year than workers with a bachelor’s degree. While college grads are still paid a premium, the difference is so slight that it takes more than 24 years to earn enough to offset the cost of that degree. By contrast, a community college or trade school offers a similar salary for just 18% of the cost and offers more job opportunities in the long run.

Community College vs. Trade School

If you choose to forgo a bachelor’s degree, a career in skilled labor is your best bet for success. Knowing the difference between these options will help you pick the path that’s best for you. Both trade schools and community colleges offer part-time and online options, meaning you can work while you’re in school.

Community college is best for someone who:

  • Is unsure what they want to do
  • Learns best in a classroom setting
  • Can devote 2 years to education
  • May decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree later on
  • Wants to save on educational expenses

Trade school is best for someone who:

  • Knows exactly what they want to do
  • Learns best by doing
  • Wants to join the workforce quickly

Learn more about trade school and community college in this infographic:

Trade School Instead Of College

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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