What to Look for in a Skilled Trade Education

College seems to be the default choice after high school. In fact, most high school guidance counselors push their students towards the direction of a formal four-year academic institution. However, it's important for students - as well as the counselors and parents - to realize that a traditional university might not be right for everyone. Some people have a natural knack for working with their hands and accumulating a bit of elbow grease at the end of the workday. If you feel that you fall into this category, then a trade school may be more fitting for you.

Trade School Curriculum at a Glance

Vocational schools are more advantageous in the sense that you are only required to enroll in classes related directly to the trade. College students are all too familiar with taking classes completely unrelated to their major all for the sake of completing general education requirements. Granted, those requirements may be beneficial for students who still haven't declared a major and allow them to explore various subjects that may open their eyes to new interests. However, for those who already have their mind set on what they want to study, general requirements can really feel pointless, not to mention a time and money waster.

Hands-On Training

With vocational school, students only learn what they need to implement their trade in a correct and effective manner. Some programs require students to complete a certain amount of hours as an unpaid intern under the tutelage of a mentor in a real work environment. This means that students get real-world experience rather than slaving away on a thesis project, capstone assignment or other unrelated core coursework.

Trade Schools are More Affordable and Require Less Time in the Classroom

While some trade fields may be comparable in length to a four-year university, most can be completed within two years. Some programs are designed to completely immerse the students through a bevy of classroom and field instruction and can be completed in as little as three months. Furthermore, more community colleges are beginning to offer certificates similar to those awarded by a trade school. What's more, the very fact that trade degrees can be earned in less time make them ideal for former university students or those looking for a career change but unable to invest in another four years of time and money in formal schooling.

Trade Course and Curriculum Requirement Examples

Automotive Repair - Automotive repair is one of the most common trade fields and an excellent career choice for terrain, sea and aviation vehicle enthusiasts. Course work typically covers basic engine operation, troubleshooting, diagnosing faulty engines, repairing drivetrain systems and auto-diesel vehicle technology.

Cosmetology - This trade covers basic hair care and styling techniques, makeup application, nail care and even retail training. Additional classes may also be included to broaden the student's field of training through courses like basic massaging, spa-oriented procedures, facials and nail detailing.

Gunsmithing - Working with firearms include general repair, custom engraving, pistolsmithing and accurizing firearms for use in marksmanship competition. Topics include basic metal work, stock refinishing, recoil pad fitting, firing pin replacement and working with various tools, such as grinding, sanding and polishing equipment. Gunsmithing students will also need to demonstrate an understanding of the basic types of firearms and their internal mechanisms. This includes semiautomatics, revolvers, short recoils, gas operated, bolt action and blowback semiautomatics to list a few.

Trade schools open a whole new world of opportunities especially for those who feel that a traditional academic curriculum is too impractical. If you want to become versed in a trade, then vocational schools deliver real world application and training.

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