What is a Trade School?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A vocational or trade school is a school that focuses on providing graduates with marketable skills. Common examples include maritime academies, esthetician colleges, culinary schools, automotive repair training programs, and training for medical technicians. After graduating from such a school, an individual will be able to immediately enter the job market with his or her skills and be able to receive a high rate of compensation.

Trade schools teach marketable skills, such as engine maintenance, to students.
Trade schools teach marketable skills, such as engine maintenance, to students.

Many programs for disadvantaged youth around the world encourage them to attend trade schools so that they will have a viable escape route from often less than ideal living situations. In some cases, young people are gathered together centrally in a supportive location that helps them pick out schools of interest and pursue an education. Because a trade school is less costly to attend, and provides graduates with immediately useful skills and sometimes job placement services, it is an option that many high school graduates consider in alternative to a college or university.

A culinary school is an example of a trade school.
A culinary school is an example of a trade school.

Many trade school programs are equivalent to college programs, and most of them last for a minimum of two years, but sometimes much longer. In a well run program, students will learn the basics of their trade and be able to practice it. In addition, most schools offer financial planning advice along with courses in business ethics and workshops to acquaint students with the legal issues surrounding their chosen trade. After graduating, a student will be certified, and eligible to take any regional administered tests that may be required for his or her trade.

Trade schools often feature courses that are technical in nature.
Trade schools often feature courses that are technical in nature.

In some parts of the world, these schools are associated with minimal education, but this is a misconception. While graduates do not have the background that a liberal arts education provides, they are highly trained and skilled individuals who often receive well grounded educations in addition to their technical training. Admission is rigorous, and most schools are accredited, just like colleges are, and subject to review to ensure that their curricula are strong.

Trade schools may have courses focusing on plumbing.
Trade schools may have courses focusing on plumbing.

For many students, the trade school environment is more supportive of their long-term goals than a traditional college. Many schools receive assistance from the government so that they can offer housing, childcare, nutrition education, and other options to disadvantaged students, usually for free or at a minimal price. Job placement services are often an important part of their offerings, and the staff follow up with their students to see how they are performing in the outside world after graduation.

Trade schools may have courses in woodworking for people interested in making furniture pieces.
Trade schools may have courses in woodworking for people interested in making furniture pieces.
The construction industry is one field served by trade schools.
The construction industry is one field served by trade schools.
Skilled laborers, such as CNC operators, often learn their job skills at trade schools.
Skilled laborers, such as CNC operators, often learn their job skills at trade schools.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon62216

I want to find a trade school near los angeles where i can get a degree in mortuary science. Any ideas?

anon58902

this is raven w. I am married and i'm trying to figure out what trade school is all about so i can get my cosmetology degree.

anon43709

I live in new york city and am looking for a trade school for my son. He wants to be an electrician. Thanks ms. Smith

milkdud313

There is the World's Only Tattoo School in Shreveport Louisiana. It's a two week course. They even have dorm for you to stay in.

anon21041

honestly if i were you i'd go to a shop and ask to learn see if you can find someone to just sit down and teach you.

anon7028

um.. so i'm looking for a school that teaches body piercing and tattoos, and i can't find jack. All these websites try to think they can teach you online how to become a professional tattoo artist.. sorry but no no..

So.. i need some help.. Does anyone have any links or know of any schools in the western united states that teach the art of tattoos and piercings??

pleeease help.

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