Trade schools, which may also be called vocational schools, are usually post-secondary institutions that provide training in a variety of fields. Training is usually practical, allowing people to go directly from a trade school into employment in the field for which they trained, provided there are available jobs. Numerous trade schools exist and they may offer very specific curriculum in certain areas or may have a wide range of certificate programs to train people for various types of work.
Sometimes trade school is not post secondary. In countries like Finland, students may be divided into career and academic studies. Those entering a Finnish career school would get practical education in numerous fields, including things like information technology (IT), hospitality work, practical nursing, or in certain artisan work.
In countries like the US, trade school is typically undertaken after graduation from high school, and studies can be diverse. Schools exist to teach people secretarial or paralegal skills, information technology, auto work and repair, and art and design, to name just a few. Many trade schools in the US help people gain licensure in specific fields. For instance those training in nursing could gain the education needed to take exams for licensed practical nursing (or licensed vocational nursing).
Most trade schools in the US offer certificate programs and don’t offer standard college degrees. Some programs do end with people earning associate’s degrees, but this is unusual. There has been an increasing trend toward trade schools that do offer both practical or vocational education and higher-level degrees.
Some trade schools are public and it is possible to take certificate or vocational training in public universities not solely dedicated to teaching trades. For instance numerous community colleges offer training programs for nursing, secretarial work, IT, a variety of different types of repair, and hospitality work. Public schools tend to be far less expensive than are programs at private vocational schools, yet it can still be stated that most trade schools are private in the US.
Quality of vocational schools can vary significantly, and it’s a good idea for those considering attendance to look at the reputation of the school, the cost to attend, appropriate local or national accreditation, and the way in which the school is regarded by the trade in which a person wants to train. Sometimes private unaccredited schools offer highly expensive education that will not give students the training they need to work in a certain field.
For many, attendance at a trade school or in trade programs at a community college is a viable alternative when learning a career. Most programs have the advantage of being completed within a year or two, which gives people the opportunity to start work more quickly, instead of learning a profession that requires numerous years of study. One problem may be encountered if people wish to go back to school to earn degrees at a later point after having attended trade school. Some studies and units earned from trade education may not be transferable to certain colleges, though this depends on the college a person wishes to attend.