Benefits of Attending a Trade School

Benefits of Attending a Trade School
Kim Norton O'Brien

In today's world, it's a social norm for high school graduates to spend thousands on a bachelor's degree, and take out loans to cover over four years of other expenses, such as books, room and board, and supplies.

Luckily, attending a four-year college isn't the only option you have for postsecondary learning. More and more students are turning to trade schools, a time- and cost-effective solution to quality, hands-on learning for various fields of study.

What Is a Trade School?

Trade schools — also referred to as vocational or technical schools — are academic institutions designed for immersive learning of technical skills that prepare students for specialized careers, like graphic design, culinary arts, and cosmetology.

Students with deep-rooted aspirations for craftsmanship and practical skills may find trade schools more suitable than traditional alternatives, like two-year or four-year colleges.

What's the Difference Between Trade School and College?

Each educational path offers various benefits to students depending on their unique goals and ambitions. The most notable factors separating trade schools and colleges are as follows.

·      Program length: Earning a degree at a four-year college requires the completion of 120 credits over a standard eight-semester time frame. Trade schools offer a more direct route to degrees and accreditations. Depending on the program's educational requirements and necessary career-field experience, programs range from six months to two years.

·      Subject matter: Colleges require additional studies outside a student's academic concentration. Comparatively, trade schools guide their students' education on centralized topics directly relating to their program, solidifying knowledge with practical learning and work experience.

·      Expenses: The average cost to earn a four-year degree during the 2019 academic year was a whopping $122,000. Trade schools offer equal-quality programs and certifications for a fraction of the price, where the average program costs less than $30,000.

·      Degrees and accreditations: Colleges offer associate and bachelor's degrees, and some also grant graduate degrees. Some trade schools confer associate degrees, but typically not bachelor's degrees. Both provide certificates and accreditations, some even from the same accrediting bodies.

If you're choosing between attending a trade school or four-year college, talk to an academic adviser about your career goals. Some professions require a bachelor's degree, while others prefer real-world experience over academic completion. Consider these factors and choose the option that best aligns you toward achieving your goals.

Benefits of Attending a Trade School

Since there's no one-size-fits-all solution, picking an academic institution can feel daunting. What works for someone else may not click for you, and vice versa. Keeping your goals in mind, consider this list of benefits to determine if attending a trade school is the best choice for you.

1. Save Time and Money

As mentioned, the average cost for a four-year degree in 2019 was $122,000 — but that doesn't include the 60% of students who take longer than four years to complete their degree or those who need financial aid, which ultimately affects long-term costs.

Plus, the costs of attending colleges are only rising. In 1989, a four-year degree would cost today's students $52,892, adjusted for inflation. And, only a few years ago in 2016, the average cost was approximately $104,480. That's an increase of almost $16,000 in only three years.

Every student deserves access to affordable education. Trade schools provide this to students, since costs are a fraction of traditional schooling methods. And, since programs are much shorter, students save money by avoiding the added expenses of room and board, additional fees, and the general costs of living.

2. Receive Hands-On Training

At trade schools, you can expect to receive practical, immersive learning opportunities in different aspects of your chosen career every day. Most trade school students share a rooted passion for working with their hands.

Traditional higher education providers usually expect students to sit through dull lectures where professors hope information sticks and resonates with their students. This environment isn't always conducive to learning, especially when considering colleges require their students to take courses entirely unrelated to their field of interest.

At trade schools, students engage with centralized topics related to their program. Hands-on training breaks the barriers of lecture-based classrooms and keeps students engaged, motivated by the promise to learn by doing.

3. Be a Part of a Close-Knit Community

Four-year colleges can feel crowded and impersonal. Some campuses can reach a student population in the thousands. In vast, auditorium-style classrooms, professors can't possibly make meaningful connections with every student they teach.

Trade schools recognize the importance of educational student-teacher relationships, most accepting a smaller population of like-minded students where learning can thrive. Teachers enjoy connecting with students almost as much as they love teaching their passions both in and out of the classroom.

As aspiring professionals, trade school students appreciate working next to equally enthusiastic classmates and the daily encouragement teachers are eager to provide. Success in learning can directly correlate to your surroundings, and trade schools build a haven for you to grow both personally and professionally.

4. Develop a Competitive Resume

As a result of the immersive learning from passionate teachers in a growth-oriented environment, trade school students complete their programs with the full skill set employers avidly look for.

Trade schools pair foundational concepts with real-world experiences, like a final class project or industry externships. You can add these to your resume to showcase your growing level of expertise. Over time, these experiences make you a valuable asset in your field, with a competitive CV against other applicants.

5. Greater Chance of Earning a Higher Salary

Some four-year college graduates take months, or even years, to find a job because of their underdeveloped resume and skill set. Naturally, human resources professionals are looking for the most qualified entry-level employees, which gives trade school graduates the upper hand and more opportunities for a higher salary.

Trade school students work with industry experts throughout their programs, developing networking relationships that can lead to a rewarding career shortly after or before graduation. 

When paired with a sound understanding of business, graduates have enough well-rounded industry knowledge to entertain the idea of starting an independent practice or exploring entrepreneurship early in their career.

Multiple Areas of Study

Some career paths are a better fit for trade school education than others. Students may feel compelled to spend more time and money at a four-year college because of the societal assumption that it's necessary. In reality, you can receive the same or a higher-quality career education at a trade school.

Some jobs you can learn by completing a trade school program include a:

·      Plumber

·      Nurse

·      Graphic designer

·      Chef

·      Massage therapist

·      Pharmacy technician

·      Welder

·      Dental hygienist

Some trade schools, like IYRS School of Technology & Trades, offer more specialized areas of study.

Boatbuilding and Restoration

Boatbuilding and restoration is an immersive learning experience of the craftsmanship and artistry of:

·      Woodworking techniques

·      Lofting

·      Steam-bending

·      Manual drafting

·      Joinery

All these skills are easily transferable to other craftsman career paths, too.

Students become familiar with the boatbuilding process throughout this 20-month program. Starting with foundational skills, students learn the basics and the professional vocabulary to innovative boatmaking and restoration, including how to safely use the shop's tools and machines when transitioning to hands-on practice.

Once familiar with the basic concepts, students work on projects both independently and in teams. During the first year, teams focus on restoring a Beetle Cat™, a plank-on-frame wooden boat. The restoration process includes the necessary research, documentation, and craftsmanship to complete a high-quality finished product.

In perhaps the most rewarding part, students get to see their hard work pay off on Launch Day, where they can launch and sail their restored boats on the open water.

Using the first year's practice, students refine and advance their techniques during their second year with the greater challenge of restoring industry leaders' yacht designs. By the end of the program, students will have a well-rounded knowledge of boatbuilding and restoration craftsmanship and the networking platform to quickly achieve their dream position within the industry.

Composites Technology

Composites technology, which is extremely valuable in today's advanced manufacturing industry, answers the growing demand for lighter, more durable building materials. 

Over a six-month program, students learn skills such as:

·      Basic materials science 

·      Molding process methods

·      Molding technology

·      Vacuum infusion processing 

·      Mold development 

·      Fabrication

Students transform these skills and other hands-on learning experiences into a personalized project to represent their growing abilities at the end of the program.

To receive the title of a Certified Composites Technician, students will conceive, design, and implement a project design and create a composites product that represents their lifestyle. Graduates have made surfboards, guitars, helmets, and even car parts!

A certification paired with externship experience ensures you graduate the program as a competitive hire, equipped with the tools necessary to smoothly transition into your career field of choice.

Digital Modeling and Fabrication

Digital modeling and fabrication brings digital thoughts and ideas to life as a real-world object. There's a rising demand for people with the ability to design, prototype, develop, and fabricate a new product using advanced manufacturing tools. And, through this nine-month program, you'll learn just that.

Understanding that digital modeling and fabrication itself isn't industry-specific, experts across many fields come into the classroom to deliver a well-rounded education to these future professionals. 

Students learn the fundamentals hands-on through CAD software programs, including SOLIDWORDS® and Rhino. In teams and with experts, students develop a comprehensive set of skills consisting of:

·      Drawing for design development

·      Manual machining

·      Laser cutting

·      3D printing and prototyping

·      Vacuum forming

·      Craftsmanship and artistry

·      Design thinking

·      Project management

·      Presentation skills

Like composites technology, students get to choose, plan, and build a final project representing their lifestyle and what they've learned throughout the program. Past students have used this opportunity to make useable products such as snowboard bindings, automated planters, and a custom lacrosse stick.

Who Would Succeed at a Trade School?

If you're a visual learner, passionate about your field of study, and enjoy hands-on experiences, you'll likely thrive at a trade school. Trade schools welcome learners with strong work ethics and a natural passion for learning. If your goals align with what trade schools have to offer, you're already an excellent fit!

You don't have to be a recent high school graduate to consider starting at a trade school. You can succeed at a trade school if you fall into the following categories.

·      Career changers: Interests change. If you find yourself in the position of looking for a professional change of pace, you don't have to rely on expensive and time-consuming four-year colleges. Instead, transform your life by studying a new trade and earn a well-paying career from it.

·      Veterans transitioning to a civilian lifestyle: You learned a lot of skills in the military. If you're looking to build upon your existing knowledge and start a new career, trade schools may be the best path to get you to your goals.

·      Transferees from a four-year college: Some students jump headfirst into a two- or four-year school, only to find out the college lifestyle wasn't for them. Trade schools are a natural fit for students still looking to build a successful career and rekindle their love of learning.

If you know what you're passionate about and are ready to take proactive steps to reach your goals, start researching the best trade school for you. Like colleges, not every trade school specializes in the same areas or offers identical courses, so find one where you feel confident in their expertise and community.

IYRS School of Technology & Trades: Trade School in New England

Located in historic Newport, R.I., IYRS School of Technology & Trades is a postsecondary academic institution that attracts aspiring craftspeople, designers, makers, and technicians worldwide.

Since our founding in 1993, our roots have run deep in fine craftsmanship and restoration skills. We started as the International Yacht Restoration School before expanding into our four accredited experiential programs — boatbuilding and restoration, composites, technology, digital modeling and fabrication, and marine systems.

We're proud of the inclusive culture our students, faculty, and staff have built over the years. We warmly welcome passionate women and men of all backgrounds, including recent high school graduates, veterans, and career changers, into our postsecondary school.

IYRS offers carefully structured classroom learning. We believe in the power of doing. In class, students develop a competitive skill set by doing hands-on projects in a team-based environment.

Here, graduation doesn't mark the end. Your professors at IYRS want to see you succeed. Because of these personalized efforts and opportunities, at least 85% of our recent graduates have gone on to pursue a career in their field of study. Finish your program with an extremely competitive resume and the confidence to excel in your career.

Are You Ready to Start Learning? Apply to IYRS Today!

To get started, visit our website and learn more about what we can offer to you and your postsecondary education. Or, jump straight to our application page and fill out an application.

We understand financing your education can feel overwhelming. Everyone at IYRS shares the mission of serving students, and we will work with you and your budget to help you reach your goals. Learn more about our financial aid, scholarship, and grants options, where our admissions team will be more than willing to guide you through the application process.