Trade School vs. Community College

It doesn’t have to take four years or more to learn the skills you need for a great career, but what about trade school vs. community college?

Community colleges and trade schools both provide a distinct advantage over a high school diploma in terms of career stability and potential income, while at the same time protecting you from massive amounts of college debt, but there are some differences between them.

You can get a two-year degree at a community college, while 95 percent of trade school certificates can be obtained in under two years. In fact, over 50 percent of trade school certificates can be held in under 12 months!

The average cost of attendance at a community college is nearly $10,000 per year, which is less than half the annual cost of attendance at a four-year university. The average trade school degree will set you back about $33,000, which is about one-fourth the cost of the average four-year degree.

Community colleges and trade schools offer different educational and career paths. Trade schools, also called vocational or technical schools, focus on key skills that lead directly to a career in the skilled trades. Community colleges are set up to be compatible with university coursework and allow the option of transferring to a four-year college.

Trade schools offer more focused hands-on training in specific skills, while community colleges require more general education courses in the liberal arts. Even though many local community colleges do offer some technical certificates in certain high-demand trades, vocational schools specialize exclusively in skilled trades.

The fastest growing (and highest paying) technical fields are electricians, medical assistants, and HVAC technicians. By choosing a career in skilled trades, you can save our infrastructure and save money while also saving yourself from having to take a job in a field you didn’t train for.

This infographic from Tulsa Welding School provides additional information about trade school vs. community college:

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