Trade Schools, Vocational Schools, Technical Schools
Not the four-year-college-degree type? Simply not interested in a career that would require that much school? There are plenty of technical trade schools that require as little as 2 years of technical school to complete before allowing you to dive headlong into the work force.
With the construction business making a comeback across the country, electricians and plumbers are two career paths that will see drastic increases in demand over the next several years. Training for these at trade school or at technical schools careers can last as little as two years, requiring only an associate degree. Vocational schools are some of the best bang-for-the-buck and time you can spend, because you learn a real skill that no one can ever take away.
Other trade careers, such as electrical engineering, will require an undergraduate or graduate degree, requiring four or more years of college.
Trade School Careers: Trends and Choices
Traditional, four-year college degrees aren’t for everyone. While some career choices require an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university program, there are fields which do not. Manufacturing and trade jobs are fast becoming in high demand again, and skilled workers are needed to fill these jobs.
A recent series of articles in CNNMoney about trade school students and potential careers in the industry indicated that many students have jobs awaiting them even before graduating from their programs. Demand is so high for these kinds of skilled workers, that in some areas, they cannot be trained fast enough to meet the need.
Among the highest-paid trade workers in 2012 were machinists and tool-and-dye tradesmen. With starting salaries in the range of $50,000 to $60,000, the jobs are becoming attractive to young people seeking career choices, as well as displaced workers looking for new jobs.
There are a variety of trade skills available, some of which have higher probabilities for employment than others. Today’s trade jobs, unlike those that were around 50 years ago, require more skills and training. Most trade workers, particularly in manufacturing jobs, must be computer literate. Those who possess computer-aided drafting and engineering skills will find themselves with jobs that can pay over $100,000 annually.
These kinds of careers usually involve a two-year college program, focused on the skills needed for high-end manufacturing jobs. Some jobs, such as engineering positions, do require a graduate degree. However, for jobs using computer-aided drafting skills, an average of two-years of technical or trade school is all that is required.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Industry, there are several trade jobs which are not only seeing an increase in demand for skilled workers, but also offer competitive wages. Plumbers, electricians, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) technicians, auto mechanics and construction managers all will be in high demand.
Plumbers can acquire the necessary skills and training in one of two ways: working as an apprentice to a licensed plumber, or by learning the skills of the trade through a vocational or plumber trade school program. As of March 2012, the average median salary for a plumber was $46,660.
Electricians earn, on average, $48,250 per year. Most electricians learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship with a licensed electrician. However, technical, trade schools for electricians and vocational programs all are available for this career field. Most programs can be completed in 18-24 months.
At present, HVAC technicians are in high demand. The need for trained technicians in this field is expected to grow 34 percent over the next 10 years, which is higher than average for other career choices. Those who work in this field and go to an HVAC technician school can expect to earn, on average, $20-22 per hour.
Auto mechanics also are in high demand. In this age of computerized vehicles, the days of changing the oil oneself and performing routine maintenance are over. Mechanics can earn their degrees through vocational, trade or technical schools. Many high schools which offer vocational-school components will provide auto mechanic training programs. Some vocational school students will graduate from high school with the skills they need to begin practicing in the field immediately. Others may need to continue their training at a specialized auto trade or technical school. Auto mechanics can expect to earn roughly $36,000 annually.
Construction jobs took a huge hit during the recession that gripped the nation in 2008. However, with the economy recovering, those jobs are once again in high demand. Construction management positions are among the best-paid positions in the construction industry. Construction managers are responsible for planning, coordinating, budgeting and supervising construction projects from start to finish. While some companies will hire those with many years of experience in the construction industry, most prefer a bachelor’s degree for management positions. Managers who possess an undergraduate degree from a construction management school can expect to earn roughly $80,000 annually.
Choosing a Trade School or Program
One of the most popular schools for automotive training is Wyotech, based in Daytona, Fla. However, Wyotech has campuses in several other locations. Advanced Technology Institute, which is based in Virginia, also has several automotive training programs.
Schools such as ITT Technical Institute offer training that is more technology-based, such as computer-aided drafting and some computer software/engineering jobs. Some of those degree programs can be completed in two years for an associate degree, while others are intended as a stepping stone toward an undergraduate degree. These are the kinds of trade skills that typically earn more than $100,000 annually. Among the top schools for construction management careers are Indiana University, Portland Community College (Oregon), Brigham Young University (Idaho) and Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
Prior to choosing any program, a few things should be explored. First and foremost, ask for a campus tour if the program is offered in a traditional setting. Ask about the instructors who will be teaching the courses. Where did they receive their training? Are they certified in the areas in which they are teaching? Students also will want to know if they have to purchase any additional tools or devices for classroom learning in order to complete the program. Finally, ask about the school’s success rate in placing students into their chosen careers upon graduation.
Like some colleges and universities, there are accreditation programs for trade and technical schools. A complete listing of legitimate accrediting agencies can be found at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.
Using the search engine at the top left of the page, input the type of career you wish to pursue, along with a zip code, and SmartSchoolFinder.com will provide a guide to earning the right degree.