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Trade School vs University: Which is the Right Choice for You?

Trade School vs University: Which is the Right Choice for You?

Trade School vs University: Which is the Right Choice for You?

Vocational school, also called trade school, is occasionally disregarded as a viable option that prepares students for a career in technology, manufacturing, health care, among others. Where universities provide a comprehensive, liberal arts education, cultivating soft and hard skills in students, trade schools focus solely on enhancing technical skills essential for success in the selected field. 

So, how do you decide on the right choice for you?

Finding the Right Trade School

Trade school offers specialized and practical training intricately linked to your chosen field. A significant part of this training occurs in workshops and similar settings that mirror your prospective work environment. Pennco Tech teaches real-world projects that provide tangible work experience, preparing you to commence work without extensive training. 

Furthermore, the compact nature of trade school programs compared to traditional college means you can enter the workforce and accumulate work experience significantly earlier.

University vs. Trade School: Duration

Pursuing an undergraduate degree typically demands four years of academic commitment. This implies that if your journey to college begins immediately after high school, your entry into the professional world might not happen until you’re at least 22. 

It could stretch out further if you decide to extend your academic tenure with a graduate program. The duration of acquiring a college degree might shave off a few potential working years, with no certainty of securing a job in your specialized field.

Conversely, vocational schools require about half the time to finish a program compared to undergraduate studies. These programs are usually rigorous and can be accomplished within one to two years. Students are provided with practical, hands-on experience, which benefits those aiming to step into the workforce promptly after completion.

University vs. Trade School: Job Security

A primary benefit of vocational schools is that many occupations attained with a trade degree are not susceptible to outsourcing. For example, jobs such as automotive technicians require physical labor and thus cannot be offshored. This is also true for other careers like chefs, electricians, and plumbers.

Contrarily, there’s a common misconception that university degrees automatically equate to job security. Professions in fields like technology or insurance have been prone to outsourcing for quite some time. The healthcare, education, and finance sectors aren’t exempt from this risk.

Barrier to Entry

Securing a spot in a university can often be an intricate and overwhelming task due to tough admission standards and limited spots available. Aspiring students usually have to undertake standardized tests, and a low score can greatly impede your probability of being accepted. Applicants wait several weeks or even months before receiving a response from traditional four-year colleges.

In contrast, the procedure for applying and gaining admission into vocational schools is typically more direct and uncomplicated. Rather than a protracted application process and long waiting periods, candidates can generally converse about their chosen program with a member of the admissions staff, plan a visit to the campus, and choose a date to begin. Most vocational schools merely require a high school diploma or its equivalent.


The cost of college can be steep, encompassing tuition, housing, books, and other miscellaneous expenses ranging from roughly $10,000 to over $50,000 per annum. A recent study by the Idaho Department of Labor estimates the average cost for a bachelor’s degree at about $127,000.

On the other hand, trade school programs have varying costs based on factors such as the institution, the program, and its geographical location, with the higher-end costs summing up to approximately $33,000

Given the increasing deficit of skills in many trades, many employers are showing readiness to sponsor or assist in apprentices’ training. Additionally, numerous scholarships are available that provide job placement at the end.


Both trade schools and universities present their own merits and demerits, and the selection between the two is a personal decision based on one’s career aspirations and financial status. Regardless of the option chosen, it’s pivotal to commit time and energy to education and professional training to reach success in the chosen domain.

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