Trade School, Apprenticeship or College Education?

collegeMy spouse and I are both college educated individuals and are thankful that when we were at the age to decide, we happened to make choices that provided us with good jobs and long careers. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy as there was a lot of planning and decisions that were made prior to even deciding the direction of choice. With the current economy, as well as more people vying for less positions, educational decisions for those trying to decide, will require even more thought and planning in comparison to when we started out.

A few weeks back we were having electrical issues at our house. Realizing that we know nothing about the electricity world, including, industry requirements/stats, licensing etc., we were at the mercy of calling a professional who could handle our situation. Later that day after the issue was fixed and things were back to normal, we had a conversation between ourselves with the same conclusion; good time to go into a trade vs an expensive college education with no guarantee of a job.

The Assoc for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) came in to being and is dedicated to the advancement of career and technical education or vocational education and can typically last approx 2-3 years. There are also for-profit career colleges which have greatly increased in numbers over the last decade, with a curriculum course generally lasting approx 1 year. As stated by Wikipedia, none of the for profit career colleges have taken on any educational distinction or prestige, but many true vocational schools have, such as California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University, to name a few. Trade or occupational schools are known to be less expensive than college education but both offer financial aid. There are also trade or occupational schools that offer options for college degrees with various trade curriculum.

There are vocational schools known as apprentice programs. These have been around the US for sometime, with  admissions to these programs, known to be competitive. Common curriculum in these programs can include such skills as heating/air conditioning, pipefitting/maintenance, machinists, Metal fabricators, welders, electricians and millwright, in addition to a few related advanced courses. In addition to apprentice programs but along those lines, there are corporate employers who are offering college education for their employees.

A slew of decisions regarding which avenue to take and fortunately, there are also many choices/options.¬† As pointed out, there are many different time tables involved with each type of program. Recommend researching all; apprenticeship programs, trade schools as well as universities or colleges in your fields of interest. Determine your realistic time-table to achieve your goals and lastly, determine overall costs, where you will obtain funds and how to pay back. Ya’ll must be realistic and accountable in your planning as this will affect your personal satisfaction in your life long job and/or career.

Please find the attached link to US Dept of Labor site for apprenticeship programs, summer jobs, Veteran programs and numerous other subtopics. Dept of labor apprenticeship programs and various other topics LINK


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