Common Trade School Questions

common trade school questions

Trade school is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to gain the skills they need to enter the job market. By attending a trade school, people can learn essential skills that can lead to higher-paying jobs, for example, becoming a dental hygienist, electrician, aircraft mechanic, chef, and more. It would be difficult (sometimes illegal) to secure either of those jobs without attending a trade school for several years.

We understand that trade schools may be a new concept to some people. After all, when most people talk of education post-high school, they talk about colleges or perhaps just jumping right into work. However, a trade school is a perfectly viable option for further education. Attending a good trade school may help a person to score a better (and sometimes far higher paying) job than attending college ever would. You can explore the highest paying blue collar trade jobs here

Our goal on this page is to answer some of the burning questions people have about trade schools. We’ll talk about what trade schools are, the cost of trade school, how long you can expect to attend, and even how to get into a trade school.

Since every trade school is different, we can’t give you every potential piece of information. You’d need to contact a trade school directly for the specifics. However, we can cover most of it, leaving you better educated about the concept of trade schools.

What Is a Trade School?

A trade school (sometimes a technical or vocational school) is dedicated to learning one specific job. You’re learning a trade. For example, if you attend an electrician trade school, you’ll learn all the skills needed to become an electrician.

While some theory will be covered at a trade school, the idea behind a trade school is to get somebody into a position where they are ready to work as quickly as possible. As a result, many people who attend trade school will be ready to enter the workplace as soon as they leave; this is a stark contrast to college, where it may take a while to find a job.

Trade schools are the right choice for those with a specific trade in mind and committed to working in that trade as soon as possible. Of course, trade schools will only cover specific trades, i.e., you can’t go to a trade school to learn to become a lawyer; that’s still a college thing. Think more about skilled trades such as plumbing, electrical work, chef, etc.

How Much is Trade School?

The cost of trade school will vary depending on the trade that’s being studied. The average cost of a trade school is $17,600, but the cost can be as low as $5,000 (for basic trades, such as truck drivers, motorcycle mechanics, etc.) and as high as $22,000 for electricians, medical assistants, etc. These are the yearly costs*,* which, in most cases, will be significantly cheaper than attending college.

According to NCES College Navigator, this is how much you can expect to pay per year for the most popular trade schools:

  • Motorcycle Maintenance and Repair Technician: $5,100
  • Veterinary Technician: $10,500
  • Truck and Bus Driver: $13,400
  • Nursing Assistant: $14,400
  • Dental Assistant: $16,300
  • HVAC Technician: $16,400
  • Electrician: $17,200
  • Medical/Clinical Assistant: $19,700
  • Auto Technician: $22,300 (Explore top states to be an auto mechanic)

There are ways to reduce the cost of attending a trade school, although these methods may not necessarily be available to everybody.

For example – some professions will pay for potential recruits to head to trade school. For instance, some electricians will help to cover the costs for their apprentices to get an education. However, if you go down this path, you’ll likely need to commit to working with that electrician for the foreseeable future. You’re an investment for them, after all.

In some cases, you may also be able to find non-profit trade schools. In these situations, you can save a few thousand dollars on the yearly cost of attending the trade school. It won’t be a huge amount, but every little helps.

You can rarely get a full scholarship to attend a trade school, although it may be worth looking around your local area to see what’s available. You may be able to save a few hundred dollars, and, once again, every little helps.

Remember – these are only the costs of tuition. You’ll likely have other costs that must be covered during your trade school years, which could add up to several thousand more dollars. This includes:

  • Any books you need to purchase. Some of these may be a few hundred dollars each. Although, most trade schools will stick to just a few books for the entirety of your education.
  • Travel costs if you need to do ‘on the job’ work for your trade school education.
  • Cost of tools – price will vary depending on your work. Many of these tools will be used throughout your career.

How Long is Trade School?

This is a tough question to answer since it will depend on various factors, including

  • How complex the trade you’re learning is
  • Whether you are learning full or part-time.
  • Whether you need to have ‘on the job’ training too (which is the case if you’re planning to become an electrician).

This does mean that a trade school course can last anywhere from 6 months to 4 years. The average seems to be around the 2-year mark.

Expect a shorter time at trade school if the trade is simple. For example, if you’re learning to drive a truck or bus, you’ll probably be around for a few months. If you’re learning to repair vehicles, it may be six months. If you’re becoming an electrician, chef, or working in the medical field, then you can be at a trade school for 2-4 years.

Thankfully, all trade schools will tell you roughly how long the course is. Course lengths seem to be pretty standard, too. So, if an electrician course at one trade school takes 2 years full-time, another will be 2 years too. This is because both schools will be teaching broadly the same information.

Of course, this will add to the cost of attending trade school. After all, if you’re at trade school full-time for several years, having any income in that time can be incredibly difficult. Some people may obtain basic work in the industry they plan to enter, but this is unlikely to cover too many bills, particularly since much of that work will be unpaid internships. This is why many people opt to study part-time at trade school. It makes working easier while increasing your skills in a certain trade. The course will take considerably longer, though.

How Many Days a Week is Trade School?

This will be dependent on the trade that you are studying, as well as the length of the course.

A trade school will have two goals:

  • To prepare you for working life.
  • To pack as much education as possible into a short period.

If you attend trade school full-time, you can expect to be in school 5 days weekly. You’ll normally be close to standard working hours, e.g., 8 am to 3 pm, although this will vary from trade school to trade school. As a result, it does become quite difficult to obtain a job outside of trade school to help fund your studies.

Remember that as your trade school education continues, you may spend less time in the classroom environment and more time out there practicing your trade. The ‘working’ hours will generally be the same as when you’re in the classroom, but you’ll spend time in other areas, rounding out your knowledge even further.

When you are researching trade schools, we suggest that you spend a bit of time looking at the schedule for the class. You’ll quickly learn whether attending that trade school is your choice.

How to Get into Trade School?

How you get into a trade school will vary depending on your location and your ideal trade. When researching trade schools, we suggest you see the specific requirements for your selected trade. We will give you a general overview here, though.

Step 1: Choosing a Trade School

This part is ‘simple.’ You’ll want to investigate trade schools that cover your specific trade. Make sure to note the following:

  • The cost of attending the trade school
  • Reputation of the trade school
  • Classroom hours
  • Length of course

If you live in a major town or city, then you should have no issues finding a trade school for you. Since getting into a trade school is not guaranteed, you may want to come up with a list of 2-3 different trade schools to apply to.

Step 2: Meeting the Requirements for That Trade School

Each trade school will have its own admissions requirements. Make sure you meet them.

At the minimum, you’ll likely need to be 18 to apply. You may also need the following:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Driver’s License

Do remember that having a low GPA (or lack of a high school diploma) will not automatically bar you from attending a trade school. However, you may need additional courses to make up for it. If you do not have a high school diploma, then your local Department of Education could help.

Step 3: The Application Process

Trade schools will have a simple application that needs to be filled in. In most cases, it is nothing more than sharing your experience, qualifications, and maybe even some information about why you want to do that particular trade. You may also be asked about financing.

If the trade is particularly complex (i.e., it requires a decent amount of math or logical thinking), you may be asked to answer a few questions to test your skills. You may need to attend the trade school for this. It helps to prevent cheating.

Step 4: Admission Interviews

If the trade school likes your application, you may be invited to an admission interview to discuss your application in more depth. This isn’t something you need to worry about too much. Most admission interviews are just a formality.

Step 5: Secure a Position at the Trade School

Finally – you may receive an offer of a position at a trade school. You can then choose to accept or decline. If you accept, the trade school will provide information on:

  • How to make payment for the course
  • Course literature
  • When the course starts.

If you have managed to get into a trade school, then good luck! We’re sure you’ll have a great time there and eventually end up scoring the job you want.