Students who attend trade school can become court reporters, electricians, construction workers, cosmetologists, cooks or chefs, carpenters, nursing and lab technicians, mechanics or electricians. They can also become secretaries, writers, accountants, graphic designers, game designers and technicians, and fashion designers and interior decorators, as well as many other job opportunities.
Trade school (also called vocational-technical school, or vo-tech) is not a cheaper option compared to a four-year college. It is often the option with the shortest route or the least time spent on formal education; the fast track, if you will, to career destination or goals. Those who attend trade school often still need financial assistance (grants or loans) to help pay for it. There are more than 10,000 private vocational schools in the nation. Though admission requirements for these schools vary, quarterly/semester tuition rates range from roughly $500 to $10,000 or more, depending on the nature of the course and its length. Private and public loans are always an option, but for this article, we will look into non-repayable funds like scholarships and grants.
The Sallie Mae Unmet Need Scholarship is based purely on financial need. It pays from $1,000-$3,800 and students can qualify if their family income is less than $30,000 a year. This scholarship does not require that you attend a certain school. The Coca Cola Two-Year Colleges Scholarship is available for high-school seniors enrolling in a trade or vocational school where they will earn an associate degree. Applicants must have a record of participation in community service. The Educational Foundation for Women Accountants offers a scholarship for women who intend to practice accounting and the AWG Minority Scholarship program offers a $5000 (as of July 2009) annual scholarship for women who want to go into geology or geosciences. Prospective students can also ask their intended schools if they have apprenticeship scholarships available.
The most well-known government grants for individuals are the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. There are a few other grant programs available based on income, but not all are financial-need grants. Some have other criteria for qualification.
Benefits of a Trade School Certificate
Certificates obtained in trade school are called associate degrees or diplomas, although you can also receive qualification credits to become a licensed professional in your field. Most trade schools offer a one-year certificate or two-year degree program, or a six- to nine-month technical program. With the lion's share of the federal budget for 2009-12 going into health care, transportation, education and training, trade school is an excellent place to be for those who are re-inventing their career options and also for those who are just finishing high school.
The courses with the highest enrollment are in health care and medicine; culinary arts and hospitality; psychology, law and justice, and digital arts and graphic design. Education and IT (information technology) are also popular options. A technical or trade-school job gives graduates the flexibility to own their own businesses in their field or industry and many do become consultants or entrepreneurs.
Renee Greene has been writing professionally since 1984 when she began as a news clerk for "The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer." She has written nonfiction books and a book of Haikus. She holds an associate degree from Phillips Junior College and is an English major at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.