If there’s anything that can be learned from the recent Texas freeze, it’s the high demand for skilled trades workers. The need for vocational schools/trade schools has been discussed a lot recently. We’re going to talk about why it is necessary to invest in a skilled trade, the advantages and disadvantages of trade schools, and a personal story on the matter.

What’s a trade school?

trade jobs workers employees

Group of business people team. Isolated over white background.

A trade, vocational, or technical school is a post-secondary institution that’s designed to give students the technical skills to prepare them for a specific occupation. Examples of trade schools include The Art Institute of Austin, Sothern Careers Institute, New Horizons Computer Learning Center, and Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

Trade schools can be public or private, but many are for-profit businesses. At a trade school, you can get a degree in fields like information technology, nursing, electrician, plumbing, carpentry, medical assisting, and a chef. You’d think Texas would have a lot of them, but we don’t.

Program lengths vary, but typically, they can range from anywhere from eight months to two years. Unlike a four-year college, you don’t graduate from a trade school with a bachelor’s degree. Usually, upon completion of the program, you’ll receive a diploma, or trade certificate acknowledging you successfully finished. For some programs you can earn an associate degree, which is a two-year college degree.

skilled trades

Why is it necessary to invest in skilled trades?

With the COVID-19 pandemic we have begun to hopefully realize more and more about “essential businesses and workers”. Some places noticed that some jobs are not required, or some jobs can be done remotely from home. What does this really mean? One thing is that we rely MORE on technology than ever before, not just technology, but energy/electricity.

What do we do if we lose power? If this all continues the same way, you’re going to need to learn some new skills for your own knowledge and well being. You may have to help yourself, or have the ability to help your neighbor. Something I noticed is that if your neighbor is struggling, you will either feel guilty, or will be struggling yourself.

You must factor in exactly what jobs could technology, or machines easily take over. I’m not trying to strike fear, but automation is a real concern. All this considered, you need knowledge to care for your home and your neighbor.

As of now, that means: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, farmers/gardeners, educators, and mechanics are useful to have nearby. In the broad scheme of things, culinary, nursing, computer, engineering, and general handy work trades are important. If a machine or computer can do the job, then someone needs to work on the machines or computers. Being hands on is very much a necessity in why to invest in a skilled trade.

Advantages of a skilled trade education

Enroll whenever you want. No waiting until a certain semester to get in because they offer rolling admissions. Classes are also usually around ten weeks long, so if you do need to wait, it won’t be too long.

Small classes. Did you ever find it harder to retain knowledge when being taught by 1 teacher in a class of 30+ students? Yeah, it’s difficult, and this way you may be able to get a more personalized education. You will also be with like minded individuals, making it easier for networking, but could create a competitive market.

Save some money. No unnecessary classes, and as I said before, it’s a shorter process. Shorter process and less classes automatically means less money to spend. You shouldn’t really be looking at getting into $80,000 of debt, and may be likely to make more money in the job you obtain after going through your courses.

Hands on. Not much lecturing while you take notes. There may be some of those times, but not near as many. You’ll be using your hands with someone who has real experience. Learn by doing. It’s like practicing for the actual job, rather than learning about it.

Career Placement. Trade schools specialize in specific areas of skill, and pride themselves on their ability to place their students in jobs right out of school. Many institutions have counselors whose only job is to find their students employment. They may advertise their job placement rate post graduating because numbers show that they are successful in preparing students to earn jobs.

Faster. Factor in enrolling whenever you want and saving the money, then you’re led to completing ALL of your training courses in two years or less. Some trades will offer a two year Associate’s Degree, and there may be times where you can get a four year degree after trade school. Overall, the whole thing is faster to putting you in the working field.

cost of trade school and college


Salary. On average those with a college degree make more than some trade fields. Trade school salary can range from $15,000 – $40,000, and four year college can go from $20,000- $100,000. It really depends on the school you attended, and where your focus lies.

Financial Aid. Four year colleges can offer you more financial aid to support you through school, but could cost you more money if you don’t know how to handle the loan process. Spend some effort on scholarships and grants. Some loans will forgive amounts if you meet certain requirements throughout your education.

College Experience. Since the classes are smaller and everything is faster in trade schools, you won’t get the same life lessons. There’s no campus culture, limited social gatherings, no Greek life, clubs, or sporting events. You won’t have stories of living in the dorms with a roommate. Being with a small group of like minded individuals can also lead to “echo-chambers”, where you’re not really living outside the box to hear other points of view, or opinions. Less classes in various areas makes your education not quite as well rounded because you’re focused in a narrow field. In college you learn a lot more people skills, and possibly some empathy, which can carry you a long way in life. At a university, you’re guaranteed to meet others from all around the world!

Job Flexibility. Having an assortment of knowledge can give you the chance to dabble in numerous jobs. In a way you can get paid to try out positions and find what’s right for you. This can essentially lead to more job security because you have MORE skills, rather than a few specific ones. Like the phrase “Jack of all trades, but a master of none.” I think all of us should be constantly learning to become a master of life.

rise of trade skills

Taking it personal.

culinary chef

My experience leads me to say both school types are great. I received a bachelor degree, loved every class, still retained knowledge (even though I graduated thirteen years ago), and I would never change my experiences. After growing up fairly sheltered in a small country town, I learned much about life, and people while living on my own. It really opened my eyes and mind.

BUT, I focused on a creative arts degree. I was a stage performer and creative writer. Those skills still play a part in my life (obviously because here I am blogging), but upon graduating and moving to a “big city”, a decent paying job did not happen.

When I “got into the real world”, I NEEDED a well paying job. I couldn’t perform based off donations and survive. Commission sales jobs without a base pay wasn’t working. Not only did I needed structure, but stability. There happened to be a culinary school across the street, and I liked to cook. I thought, “I have cooking experience and people are always going to need to be fed, so this could be a good trade in order to get better income.”

I enrolled. Being that I had a degree, I was able to skip courses to take basic hands on classes, and graduated within 8 months. My internship through a company was paid, then stayed there for a decade. Every year I earned my way up to reach a salary position. The job market in that area was up and down, so I needed another job to reach good financial standing. Going to college made it possible to get some work as an educator in certain fields, along with other side gigs. My management and leadership skills from school caused me to advance quickly. People and performing/presentational skills helped me every step of the way. In the end, I found out why it is necessary to invest in a skilled trade.

college life

In conclusion

Yes, in the end I accumulated a lot of debt and will be paying for the rest of my life, but I’ve always loved education. I enjoy learning new and different skills. Both school types helped me, and both are a necessity. It all depends on what works best for you, but no matter what, I recommend furthering your education, and always have something to fall back on. If you can, attend college, even if it’s two years, then learn a trade or two with minimal classes. If you do everything wisely, and take it all into consideration, you could reach a greater salary quicker than those in my generation.

There is a great need for trade schools, but I’m not advocating for doing away with college, or public schools completely. Everyone learns differently and has their own unique individuality. Above all, you need to know yourself because sometimes you’re all you got.  Live out on your own, and work while you’re in school. Understand why it is necessary to invest in a skilled trade, especially here in Texas. All these things collectively can bring amazing treasures. Master your life.

college campus lawn social


Trade Schools –  https://blog.prepscholar.com/what-is-a-trade-school#:~:text=A%20trade%20school%2C%20sometimes%20referred,them%20for%20a%20specific%20occupation.

20 Highest Paid Trade Schools – https://www.greatvaluecolleges.net/highest-paying-trade-school-degrees/

Trade School over College – https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/choosing-trade-school-over-college/584275/

Trade Schools and Colleges in Austin, TX – https://careerschoolnow.org/colleges/cities/austin-tx

Best Trade Schools – Provides prospective students a hub for locating nearby schools and colleges, while researching specific details about the trades they’re considering. Rather than doing an extensive internet search, individuals can locate specific trades, industry details and the locations nearest them all in one convenient platform.

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