Should You Go To College or Trade School?

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Should You Go To College or Trade School?

Going to college seems like a rite of passage that most young people feel required to do. In 2018, the projected number for college students starting in the fall was 19.9 million. But is this common choice always the right path for everyone? Discover some of the pros and cons and learn how trade school can provide a less common alternative you might not have considered before.

College Offers a Proven Path — for Certain Careers

Let’s be honest—certain careers require college if you’re going to get anywhere. If you have dreams of a traditional path that requires higher education, such as becoming a doctor, nurse or lawyer, going to college is a requirement.

But all benefits come with a downside, and in this case, it could leave you with a hefty debt load. If you’re not sure what to major in or otherwise feel undecided about your career, college may not always be the best choice. Student loan debt is crippling for students who complete their education but walk away with no job to show for it. At $798 billion, student loan debt exceeds that of all U.S. credit card debt. If you don’t have a specific career path in mind, this isn’t the best plan.

Trade School Can Help You Get a Skilled Job — Provided You Have a Plan

Trade school can provide you with the option to get an education in a shorter time span. Depending on what you’re going to school for, you could spend anywhere from a couple of months to two years earning a diploma or degree from a trade school. If you’d rather not spend a lot of time studying for a degree, don’t know what you’d get a bachelor’s degree for, or prefer to join the workforce sooner, trade school can provide a better option.

Programs in trade school can vary between apprentice-type work, such as training to be an electrician, or going into the medical field, as a respiratory therapist, among other options.

Don’t feel as though taking this road limits your potential income. A career as an HVAC technician brings in a yearly income of $44,000, while working as an elevator repair professional brings in over $70,000. It’s important to remember that with a trade school education, the training is targeted. So if you want to change careers, you’ll probably need to attend school again to get trained and certified in something else.

Before You Start

Before you start trade school, it’s important to know what you’re working toward. While college gives you time to take different classes and consider what you like best about different disciplines, trade school doesn’t give you that option. If you’re attending to become a paralegal or a medical coder, you’ll only focus on those topics. So you need to know in advance whether or not you’ll like the work.

There is no right or wrong path when it comes to choosing between college or trade school. In the end, it depends on what your goals are, what you’d like to accomplish—not to mention when you’d like to accomplish it. Then trust yourself, and go get it, whatever it is.