What is a Trade School?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Trade schools offer specialized education for students who are interested in joining certain career fields. A trade school provides a very specific education that will help graduates quickly join the job force. Understanding what you can do with a trade school education will help you determine whether this is the right path for you. In this article, we explore what a trade school is, the jobs that you can prepare for through this type of institution and its benefits and disadvantages.

What is a trade school?

A trade school, also known as a technical school or vocational school, is an educational institution that prepares you for a specific career. Trade schools provide a focused educational program that keeps the attention on courses and information that are necessary for your desired career path. While a college education includes a variety of general courses designed to help you explore your options and find the right field, a trade school eliminates unnecessary courses to provide you with the information you need.

Read more: What is a Trade School?

What can you do with a trade school education?

A trade school education can prepare you for many career paths. Some of the jobs that you might enjoy with a trade school certificate are not only lucrative, but they also allow for advancement to a management or leadership position. Consider some of these options if you're interested in a trade school education:

  1. Nursing assistant

  2. Medical assistant

  3. Emergency medical technician

  4. Chef

  5. Welder

  6. Cosmetologist

  7. Automotive technician

  8. Carpenter

  9. Plumber

  10. Licensed practical nurse

  11. Electrician

  12. X-ray technician

  13. Massage therapist

  14. Dental hygienist

1. Nursing assistant

National Average Salary: $13.68 per hour

Primary Duties: Nursing assistants provide basic patient care, which may include taking vitals, emptying bedpans, serving meals and repositioning those who are bedridden. They are also responsible for cleaning and sanitizing patient areas and changing bed sheets. Nursing assistants may take patients' calls and communicate essential information to nurses, physicians and other caregivers.

Read More: 10 Six-Month Certificate Programs That Pay Well

2. Medical assistant

National Average Salary: $14.80 per hour

Primary Duties: Medical assistants prepare patients for their examinations. They are responsible for taking vitals, collecting patient information, preparing supplies and keeping equipment operational. Medical assistants may also make and confirm appointments, prepare charts and handle medical consent forms.

3. Emergency medical technician

National Average Salary: $14.97 per hour

Primary Duties: Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide basic medical care to patients before they arrive at the hospital. EMTs typically care for patients on the site of an accident or injury and in the ambulance en route to a hospital.

4. Chef

National Average Salary: $15.37 per hour

Primary Duties: Professional chefs oversee and direct the activity in professional kitchens. They supervise the food preparation team and personally handle more complex food preparation. Chefs also design menus, source ingredients and create new dishes.

5. Welder

National Average Salary: $17.84 per hour

Primary Duties: Welders are responsible for fabricating and assembling metal products. They operate welders, shapers, measuring tools and cutters to produce structures that may range from routine constructions made to specification using blueprints to artistic items that are one-of-a-kind pieces.

6. Cosmetologist

National Average Salary: $17.99 per hour

Primary Duties: Cosmetologists provide professional hair care. Their duties include shampooing, conditioning, cutting and styling hair. They may color, perm, bleach, tint, curl or straighten hair to achieve the customer's desired look.

7. Automotive technician

National Average Salary: $19.49 per hour

Primary Duties: Automotive technicians handle the repair and maintenance of vehicles. Their duties may include completing diagnostic and driving tests to identify problems with the vehicle. They can replace parts, complete routine maintenance and repair electrical or mechanical issues.

8. Carpenter

National Average Salary: $21.31 per hour

Primary Duties: The primary duty for a carpenter is constructing and repairing items made from wood materials. Carpenters are also responsible for reading blueprints, providing cost and materials estimates and demolishing previous structures.

9. Plumber

National Average Salary: $25.36 per hour

Primary Duties: Plumbers install, repair and maintain plumbing fixtures in homes and commercial buildings. They work with pipes, fittings and fixtures such as faucets and shower heads.

10. Licensed practical nurse

National Average Salary: $23.58 per hour

Primary Duties: Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic patient care. Their responsibilities include observing patients and assisting registered nurses and physicians. LPNs communicate with patients and their families, providing information on home health care, medication use and preventive health measures.

11. Electrician

National Average Salary: $25.83 per hour

Primary Duties: Electricians install, repair and maintain electrical installations such as wiring, lighting systems, circuit breakers, switches, outlets and other controls. They troubleshoot electrical problems and ensure that buildings are safe and up to code.

12. X-ray technician

National Average Salary: $27.77 per hour

Primary Duties: X-ray technicians operate radiography equipment to get clear images per physicians' orders. They position the patients, prepare them for the procedure and operate the X-ray machinery.

13. Massage therapist

National Average Salary: $28.41 per hour

Primary Duties: Massage therapists provide therapeutic massages which can treat medical conditions or promote overall wellness. They manipulate the muscles and soft tissues to produce the desired results.

14. Dental hygienist

National Average Salary: $38.29 per hour

Primary Duties: Dental hygienists perform basic dental care, which includes removing plaque, polishing the patient's teeth and performing oral screenings. They also educate patients on proper dental hygiene and care.

Related: 21 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand

Benefits of attending trade school

Attending a trade school can offer you a more direct path to your chosen career. If you're interested in a field where you can gain training through a trade school, you're often able to begin work much sooner than if you choose a career path that requires a college degree. There are many benefits to attending a trade school:

  • Shorter training period: You can typically complete your training at a trade school in anywhere from 10 weeks to two years. Completing a program through a trade school is faster than completing a bachelor's degree.

  • Less general study: College degree programs often include a year or more of general study courses that are not directly related to your chosen career. Trade schools eliminate most unnecessary coursework and focus instead on the classes that are relevant to your job path.

  • Quick entry into a skilled career: Trade schools typically educate students on hands-on career fields. Upon completion of the trade school program, you're equipped to begin work in that field. You have the specific skill set needed for employment and won't have to spend additional time gaining workplace skills on the job.

  • Small, focused classes: Trade schools typically have smaller classes than colleges or universities. Massive lecture halls are less common. Instead, your education is focused on applicable hands-on education.

Related: How to Get Into a Trade

Disadvantages of attending trade school

While a trade school will serve you well for many career paths, there are still times when you may want to choose a different route. There are some disadvantages to trade schools that you should consider making sure this is the right path for you:

  • You receive a certificate: Upon completion of a trade school program, you will receive a certificate instead of a degree. As you advance in your career, you may find that some positions are reserved for candidates with a college degree.

  • Credits do not usually transfer: Trade school credits don't typically transfer to college or university programs. There are some exceptions, however. You should check with the specific college that you're interested in if you hope to transfer trade school credits.

Related: 12 High-Paying Trade Jobs

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