A Career In Trades:

The College Alternative

Trade School 101

Let’s face it, in today’s world, college is not for everyone; and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it’s essential to know of other options out there to help advance your career.

Granted that both college and trade schools help students kick off their careers, “trade schools offer shorter, job-specific training and courses that prepare students for the industry they want to work in.” In additional to job-specific training and courses, trade schools also provide hands-on technical training and experience by eliminating general education courses (taught in university), allowing a more focused approach to the students’ desired industry. 

Furthermore, another facet of a trade school is that attending is typically cheaper than college, making it more appealing to students looking to save money and eliminate hefty and dreaded student debt.

I'm Considering Trade School...

How do I know if it’s for me?

Deciding to continue your education should never be taken lightly; it’s a huge commitment whether you choose to go to college to receive a bachelor’s degree or dedicate your time and energy to a trade school.

Again, when deciding to continue your education, one of the most important things is making sure you are doing it for yourself—enjoying what you studied and making it a career is much more enjoyable when you are passionate about your field. 

If you are ever uncertain about something, it’s best to research to help make the right decision. Fortunately, there are multiple resources that can help narrow down your decision. 

Here are a few below:

1. Invest in Yourself:

Build a Relationship with a Career Coach

Investing in career coaching can help set yourself up for success. While there are many reasons why career coaches can be super beneficial, listed below are some of the reasons why you should consider partnering with one:

☆ Build a Goal setting for greater results

Setting reachable and realistic goals can be difficult for some. When utilizing a career coach, they can help set strategic goals and provide a detailed plan on reaching and exceeding them in the future.

☆ Identifying Career Paths

In addition to setting strategic goals, career coaches have a wealth of resources to share that can help assist in narrowing your career choice. By considering your areas of interest, personality traits, and talent, career coaches can provide you with career options that could be a potential match. After all, understanding and becoming aware of potential obstacles in a position/occupation plays a key role in deciding whether that is something you are open and willing tackle. 


☆ Gaining support from an objective guide

It's likely your family and friends may think they know what's best for you, only you know what's best for you. Having a career coach is a great way to gain an unbiased perspective on your future goals and aspirations. Not only are career coaches able to provide unbiased advice, they are also able to assist you with considering all of your options with substantial resources and information.

☆ Develop Effective Strategies

When it comes to applying for roles, everyone is a little bit different. One of the most critical aspects of a job search is learning how to sell yourself and knowing what you can do to make yourself stand out among other candidates applying for similar, if not the same positions. For example, one thing that could help you stand a part from competition is being prepared to nail your interview.

☆ Job Search Support

Searching for a new role, especially as an entry-level candidate, can be daunting. Luckily, a career coach has the expertise to find you the proper position by considering your goals and using their connections/resources to help.

2. career
evaluation testing

While there are thousands of career evaluation tests, many are specifically designed to help decide whether a trade school is right for you.

These tests take into account your personality type, interests, skills, and more to determine the best fit for you.


3. Shadow trade school graduates

Most can agree there’s nothing like getting valuable insight on something from someone who has experienced it. Once you’ve decided on a few industries you are interested in, reaching out to individuals who work in the trade can seal the deal in determining whether this industry is right for you.

What career options are available in trade school?

Like universities, trade schools offer various industries to study within. Research from SkillPointe listed below shows some of the highest paying skilled trade roles within the construction industry for 2021 with their median annual salaries.



Despite the large number of people retiring, according to the Center for Employment Training, based on the large number (31M) of baby boomers that have retired between 2019 and 2020, there’s never been a better time for students to train for technical careers. Nevertheless, the market for new skilled tradespeople has never looked more fruitful.

View the number of open positions looking to hire after/since baby boomers retire(d) below: 

  • • Electricians: 524,680 
  • • Welding, Soldering, & Brazing Workers: 403,100
  • • Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, & Steamfitters: 392,460 
  • • Machinists: 391,190 
  • • Industry Machinery Mechanics: 306,860 

• Heating & Cooling Technicians: 251,700 

What resources are available?

There are multiple resources available for those considering trade school, including scholarships, grants, and career coaching support. 

YouthBuild is a  community-based pre-apprenticeship program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24 who have previously dropped out of high school.


As stated previously, there are many quizzes and assessments to take that can help determine if trade school is for you. Here is a quick quiz to see if your interests, needs, and priorities match those of students who do well in a trade school environment

Click here to take the assessment.

Available scholarships for  students who plan to pursue careers more in the vocational areas. 

View vocational scholarships here.

Work with a coach to develop a career plan, define and accomplish goals, and supercharge your future at work.


In conclusion, you don’t have to graduate from college to have a successful career. What works for some may not work for you, and that is okay. There are plenty of programs that allow you to be successful in a shorter amount of time without committing to student debt.

If you are a skilled labor professional looking to advance your career, our partners at Finish Line Staffing are here to help.