Trade School Versus College (An Alternate Path to Business Success?)

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It’s surprising how many people in the U.S. attend college simply because “It’s what you do when you live in America and turn 18.” So many young people enter college without having a clue as to where they’re headed in their futures. They don’t have specific goals; in fact, some say they don’t even want to be in college but their parents have insisted that they enroll.

My husband and I have always taught our children that they are more than welcome to attend college if they feel the Lord is calling them there for a reason; however, they are also welcome to choose other paths, including entering the workforce straight out of high school or attending trade school. The latter has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. In fact, many high school grads are choosing trade school as a viable alternative to a four-year degree that has many of the same benefits.

Considering the fact that most trade school certifications take approximately two years to achieve, it may be true that a trade school education allows graduates to earn more income overall since the average trade school grad will enter the workforce a full two years ahead of a college student pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

One of the most frequently cited reasons for attending college is the potential for higher income right from the start. This is true, since most employers will offer at least $16,000 more per year to a college grad with a four-year degree that a prospective employee without one. Trade school, however, is not without its own perks since it generally costs less and ends sooner than the typical college education plan, and the two years’ worth of income obtainable from entering the workforce sooner may add up to be comparable to the higher income offered to a college graduate.

Let’s not forget that a lot of people who enroll in college intending to earn four-year degrees drop out before they meet their goals. This leaves them with no degree, perhaps no job, and possible debt from whatever time they did spend working toward a bachelor’s.

Many college educated-related jobs are easily transportable overseas, such as computer programming or other technology-based work. Jobs requiring specific trade skills, however, tend to be less easily exportable, meaning such work is more likely to always be available, right here in the U.S. If a company or homeowner needs to hire an electrician, plumber or other trade-related worker, they’re going to draw from the existing pool of availability on domestic soil because a prospective worker must be physically present on site to do the work. America’s business future includes a definite need for highly skilled workers who are young so that a replacement workforce is fully equipped and ready to replace other skilled workers when they retire.

There are pros and cons to both forms of education and job preparedness. Every person has his or her unique set of goals, circumstances and dreams for the future. Potential benefits must be weighed against probable costs but it’s good to know there are options available, especially for those who don’t feel cut out for college life or wish to avoid paying, on average, $100,000 year if they can accomplish their goals for less.


Writer Bio: Judy Dudich

Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.

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