Community College or Trade School

While going to a community college involves getting a degree, this degree is not the same as a certificate from a trade school. Other than considering the cost, you also must think about your career goals when you choose between these two options. While some community colleges offer similar training for certain skills, trade schools often have a stronger focus on hands-on learning and apprenticeships. Many people go to community colleges because the cost is lower than university tuition, but trade schools also have a low cost.

How Does a Trade School Work?

A trade school is also called a vocational school or a technical school. It is where you go to learn a trade before entering the job market. If you want a job opportunity as an electrician, mechanic, dental hygienist or pharmacy technician, you will most likely need a certificate from a trade school.

Unlike a four-year university, trade schools generally have streamlined programs that are focused on learning the right skills for the job market. Colleges often focus on learning ideas like historical facts or the names of important artists instead of teaching applicable skills for getting a job opportunity. Because of this, many hiring managers prefer applicants who went to a trade school.

Going to a trade school gives you real-world training you can use to get a job opportunity. At many trade schools, you are required to undergo an apprenticeship to graduate. Other than giving you added skills, your apprenticeship could lead to a job as well.

While the cost of a trade school is like a university degree, the pay is not. Once someone gets their certificate from trade school, they can expect to earn a starting salary of $35,720. In comparison, someone with a four-year degree earns a salary of $46,900 when they start out on the job market. While someone may earn more with a bachelor’s degree, the cost difference is significant. A bachelor’s degree costs $100,000 or more and requires two more years of studying. Meanwhile, a certificate from a trade school takes just two years and costs an average of $33,000.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Going to a Trade School

Hiring managers like applicants who have experience. Thanks to apprenticeship programs, a trade school prepares students for the job market. Trade school is cheaper than university degrees, but the price is fairly like a community college.

Hiring managers may also prefer trade school graduates because they have hands-on knowledge. Many college programs focus on theoretical knowledge, which is rarely useful for getting a job opportunity. A hiring manager may be more likely to give you a job opportunity because you have additional skills.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Going to a Community College

Many community colleges have vocational programs, so you may be able to get the same certificate at a community college as you can at a trade school. Unlike trade schools, community colleges offer associate degrees. These degrees can be transferred to four-year universities, so going to a community college gives you options if you decide you want to continue your education. If you are not sure what you want to do for your career, a community college is a good place to start. Having a degree looks good for hiring managers, and it gives you a general set of skills you can use later.

There are drawbacks to a community college degree as well. A large portion of students drop out before they finish their bachelor’s degree, and many other students take longer than four years to complete their degree. If you cannot finish your degree in time, you will have to pay the cost of tuition for another year. Some students are unable to afford to stay in college, so they end up without a degree. This can make competing in the job market and getting hired even harder.

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