Trade school and college both offer sustainable careers, but which one is right for you?

Navigating life after high school can be tricky. With so much discussion about whether or not college is actually worth it, an entire generation of high school graduates is desperately trying to figure out which path to take. While we're not higher-education advisors, by any means, there are some factors to bear in mind as you make your decision.


The major focus of education is its cost. Due to trade school being only two years, and room and board not being a factor, this route is the cheaper option. The cost of traditional college can run over $100,000, which means debt for years long after graduation. If you're not planning on becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or aiming for a job with a salary that pays you back for all those years of hard work, opting for vocational training may be the right choice for you.

Career Options

Depending on your area of study, both college and trade school degrees can benefit you well in the long run. Areas of study such as dance, religion, and studio art don't allow for many sustainable career choices come graduation day, which is why you must put serious thought into what you actually need to study rather than what you want to study. Wanting to study poetry doesn't open doors the way a business degree or software development certificate can.


Again, depending on your focus area, college and trade school educations can both provide decent salaries. However, trade school graduates are ready to work immediately, which means the money comes in sooner. Adding in more certifications and specializations over time will only increase your bank account, while your friends who went to college will have to either go to graduate school (and pay more) or jump from employer to employer to get a bump in pay.

Previous Work Experience

You know those "entry-level" jobs that ask for three to five years of work experience? That's a tall order for a 22-year-old who just spent four years hitting the books instead of getting job training. Trade school wins in this regard thanks to all the hands-on job training and apprenticeships taken on in the process of getting their credentials. 

Job Security

Because those in trade are needed now more than ever, the door is always open for those looking to work. This isn't to say that law degrees don't equal long-term job security, but the general public is usually more in need of electricians and plumbers than they are attorneys. It's also worth mentioning that trade schools work very closely with outside employers, which makes getting a job relatively simple.

Knowledge Diversity

Due to having more time to explore in four-year institutions, students can turn their attention to other areas of interest in conjunction with their majors. For example, if an engineering student loves movies, they have the opportunity to register for a film studies course. Due to trade school programs being very streamlined, there is no room for exploration.

No matter what route you take, remember that no one can take your education away from you. Whether you do a two-year degree or certification program now and wait to do a college degree later down the road, either way you're setting yourself up for success just by being proactive about your future.