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Technical Trade Schools - How to Choose Technical Trade Schools

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Although many high school students are ingrained with the idea that to have a bright and successful future you must attend a four-year university, this is not necessarily true. Not everyone is suited for or even wants to go to college. There is absolutely nothing wrong with forgoing a four-year degree to learn a trade or skill set from local technical trade schools.

In many cases, high school graduates and GED holders can actually benefit more from technical trade schools than from universities. Opportunities to learn high-paying vocational skills from technical trade schools are diverse and often suited for the area in which the school is located, allowing graduates to begin their career without having to relocate. Other benefits of technical trade schools include the following:

  • Pay – Technical trade schools allow for an average of 50% greater earnings than is provided by a high school diploma alone. In some cases, the pay is even greater than entry-level positions requiring a four-year degree.
  • Cost – Technical trade schools, also called vocational colleges, cost less than most universities. Some technical schools are up to eight times less expensive than public universities or private colleges. Because the cost is less, you won’t have to rack up high levels debt in the form of student loans that must be paid back after graduation.
  • Time – The programs at Technical trade schools are a maximum of two years in length. This allows the student to become a viable member of the workforce more quickly than with four-year college degree programs.
  • Job Placement – Most technical trade schools have job placement programs that virtually ensure a job upon completion of a vocational program. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the employment rate of new graduates from technical trade schools is 97 percent.
  • Job Security – Programs offered by technical trade schools are usually for hands-on positions that require your physical presence. This means that these jobs are rarely outsourced or downsized. Examples include auto mechanics, plumbers, healthcare professionals, and computer technicians.
  • Future Options – Many technical trade school programs are designed for students to graduate with an associate’s degree. These degrees are accepted by universities to place you in an advanced four-year degree program as 3rd-year student should you later decide you wish to further your education or expand your job opportunities.

Choosing a technical trade school is slightly different than choosing a university. There are several factors that should be considered in the choice. Here are the most important ways to determine if a particular trade school is the right choice for you:

Accreditation
Some technical trade schools are not accredited and should be avoided. Many vocational schools, however, are accredited by the same regional accrediting agencies responsible for giving the top colleges and universities their accreditation. This has two key advantages: it ensures that you receive a quality education, and it makes you eligible for federal financial aid. One common trick to look for is to make sure the school’s listed accrediting agency is valid. Some schools make up fake accrediting agencies to appear valid when they are actually not.

Instructors
Instructors should not only have years of professional experience in their field, but they should be trained or have advanced degrees in education. Just because someone is good at what they do doesn’t mean they have the skills necessary to teach others these skills.

Campus
Some technical trade schools operate through online campuses, but many of the programs offered require hands-on work and training. Visit the campus and take a look at their facilities. They should be clean and modern. Try to visit some time when classes are in session. Take a look at the students and see if they appear to be content and that you fit in with them. Technical trade schools in the same area teaching the same programs can be vastly different from one another.

Reviews and References
Read professional reviews about the school. Good sources of information are news magazines and local libraries. Online resources also offer great information that is helpful in choosing technical trade schools. Also, look for reviews by current students and past graduates. These will often be your best sources of information. Be sure to get statistics about the schools job placement rates before making a decision.

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