Students who attend trade schools may be able to start their careers more quickly than college students.

Trade schools, including schools that offer degrees or diplomas in nursing-related specialties, teach students skills related to a specific career. In 2012, President Obama recognized the importance of these vocational schools, calling for an increase in federal spending on trade schools. Although vocational training isn't for everyone, attending a trade school can offer significant advantages.

Career Training

Trade school is designed to prepare you with the skills you need for a specific profession, while a college degree provides you with a broader educational background that may or may not prepare you for a profession. If you pursue training in medical assisting, for example, you will likely learn about record keeping, billing and the basics of certain medical conditions, which prepares you to directly enter the field without the need for additional training. Some college degrees, by contrast, require that students attend graduate school or complete additional training via an internship before they are knowledgeable enough to work in the field.

Pay and Employment

If you attend trade school, you'll likely earn more than if you only graduate high school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013, for example, that students with an associate's degree average $727 in weekly earnings, with a 6.2 percent unemployment rate. Many trade schools offer associate's degrees, and the salary and employment numbers are superior to the average weekly pay of a high school graduate, which is around $652. The unemployment rate of high school graduates is also worse at 8.3 percent.

Shorter Completion Times

Depending upon the program you choose, you might get either a two-year associate degree or a certificate from your vocational school. College, by contrast, is designed to take four years, but can take even longer. If you're looking to start a career or family quickly, trade school may be a better option because it takes significantly less time to complete than going to college. At most trade schools, you can complete your training in two years or less.


Vocational school is an investment that may require some saving and budgeting, but attending a trade school is much less expensive than attending college. The Better Business Bureau reported in 2013 that the average cost to complete trade school is $4,700. Four years at a public college paying in-state tuition, by contrast, averages $34,620, according to 2012 data from the College Board.