If you’re debating your next move after high school graduation, trade school may be a promising option. There are many plus sides to pursuing this route over a traditional four-year degree which, most often, seems to be deemed the primary goal for students. Some of the benefits include fewer degree/certificate requirements, lower tuition costs, real-world training being part of the curriculum, high-demand jobs, and very reliable career choices. If you feel like this path may be in the cards for you, we have some tips for where to start:
Decide on A Career Path
Deciding on a career path is a difficult situation for any young adult, but honing in on your interests and existing skill sets can help make the decision easier. There are trade schools for a wide range of careers, from the wellness community to more technical trades. Doing some research to determine the different types of trade schools will make sure you’re aware of all your options and help you explore specific schools for each area of expertise. Though your mind may go to some of the most common trades like carpentry, electrical, and mechanical, there are many on the other side of the spectrum like cosmetology, culinary arts, or massage therapy.
Get a Head Start
If you’re thinking about going to trade school instead of a traditional four-year institute, talking with your high school guidance counselor about this next step can help you fast forward this process. Taking classes within your high school course offerings that are related to a future trade career could be beneficial when figuring out exactly what you want to do or honing in on your passions early. In addition, your high school may have programs or partnerships geared towards developing career-ready skills and kicking off an associate’s degree.
Getting a head start and enrolling in these classes can mean you spend your time off-campus, building hands-on experience and fast-tracking the time it takes to secure your certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree. Trade school doesn’t last longer than two years, but getting involved early may mean the process is even quicker, and it certainly means you’ll have more practical knowledge coming out. Another option may be partaking in an apprenticeship for a multitude of subjects ranging anywhere from IT to healthcare or engineering.
Apply for Trade School
Typically, the application process for a trade school is a breeze compared to other institutes. On top of being at least 17 years old (on average), the only thing that is completely necessary is a high school diploma, GED, or equivalency exam offered by your state. However, if you’ve taken the SAT or ACT and have good scores, this could give you a leg up for apprenticeships. There are no supplemental essays or credit requirements to apply to trade school, but many schools will require prospective students to take placement exams to determine if it’s the right fit.
GPA requirements are dependent on each school, and normally won’t make or break an acceptance, but they can help you secure more financial aid through scholarships. Researching each trade school, its curriculum, and structure will help you determine whether it’s the right investment for you and your future. Though the tuition of each school varies, a trade school education in total can end up costing $30,000. Just like other colleges and universities, students at vocational schools qualify for federal financial aid and they should fill out the FAFSA to see how much of their tuition can be covered.
Once you start your research and explore all of the trade schools near and far, you’ll be able to find a place where you’ll thrive and can fully pursue your passions.
Explore Jobs and Manage Adulthood Post-Grad
Trade school is going to fly by, especially with the amount of dedication you’re putting in to perfect your craft. Once you’ve received your diploma or certificate and enter the job force, you’ll have to learn life skills a lot quicker than your high school classmates going to a four-year college. Most people choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, which means there’s a substantial skilled trades gap, and finding a job may not be as competitive after graduating. In addition to traditional job search engines, you should look at trade-specific job boards and websites to narrow down your hunt.
Once you’ve landed a job you love and have started managing an income for the first time, you can start making larger financial decisions. Since trade positions are much more stable and have good job security, you may be able to put away savings quickly, reach financial independence, and look to make bigger purchases, like buying a house sooner than others your age. If you want to put roots down, looking into 15 year fixed mortgage rates and opting for these loans will mean you save money on interest in the long run and own your home quicker. Allocating money in various bank accounts to plan and save money for the future, whether that’s retirement, vacations, emergency funds, and potentially starting a family, is a fundamental financial habit that everyone must adopt as they begin their careers.
Wherever life will take you, considering all of your options and leading with what you love is always the right place to start. Skilled trade positions are a dime a dozen these days, and can undoubtedly lead you to success and happiness in the long run if you choose to pursue your passions.