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4 Reasons Trade School is Better than College

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4 Reasons Trade School is Better than College

By: Lisa Saccoia, BS, LMT

Racking student loans and unemployment are making millennials think twice about attending traditional college. Trade schools are becoming a more viable option for successful, long-term careers. And it’s not just millennials. People from all walks of life are looking for flexible, short-term educational options. If this is you, or your son/daughter, read on.

What’s a Trade School?

A trade school, aka vocational college, is an institution that teaches skills related to a specific job. Programs are typically a year or less, with certification to follow. Some examples are:

  • Massage Therapist
  • Brick Mason
  • Electrician
  • Machinist
  • HVAC Professional
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Physical Therapist Assistant

Why are trades gaining popularity? Here are just a few reasons why people are opting out of the 4-year-colleges to master a trade.

Trade school is more affordable

affordable education trade school

There’s a reason the Ramen Noodle diet is a thing.

Research from the Idaho Department of Labor shows the cost of a bachelor’s degree (in the U.S.) is $127,000. Thinking of a master’s degree? You’re looking at an additional $120,000. (I’ll wait while you get a calculator).

Trade schools cost a fraction of what public and private schools cost. The average cost of vocational school is estimated at $33,000 – for the entire education. This the average cost of a single year of college.

I can hear your wallet thanking you already.

The Value of Your Education

Would you invest in something if you knew it would cost you more in the long run? Probably not.

Look at education as an investment, not so much as an experience. Analyze the return on your educational investment. It might change your perspective. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), the average return is greater with trade school versus a bachelor’s. Of course, there are exceptions, especially if you’re awarded grants and scholarships.

On average, for every year you’re repaying trade school, someone who earned a bachelor’s is repaying for three years. Let’s say it takes Susie three years to pay for massage therapy training. John (B.A. in Communications) will be repaying for nine years.

Susie can spend more earnings on personal investments instead of to a credit lender. Yay, Susie!

Start working (and earning) sooner

Getting a bachelor’s takes four years, and sometimes more. Throw an (often) unpaid internship in the mix, and you may not be earning in your chosen field for 5 years.

Most vocational programs are a year or less. What will you do with all the extra time? Work, of course! By earning sooner, you have the freedom to earn faster. Dream of all the things you could save for: a car, a house, or starting your own business.

Job Growth

TMassage Therapy job growth trade schoolake some time to compare the growth rate of your desired professional to other trades. Massage Therapy has one of the highest potential growth rates, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At a growth rate of 22%, it’s currently higher than an even RN. Check here to see the growth potential of your desired career.


If you’re childhood dream is calling, and it requires a degree, congratulations! I love a good “follow your passion” story just as much as the next guy.

If you’re not confident about attending traditional college, the debt or time commitment – consider trade school as an option.

On a final note: I have to say… I’ve heard this statement way too many times: “trade school is for people who aren’t as intelligent.” Huh? When is the last time you found yourself troubleshooting a burst pipe? Or engaged in mathematical problem solving? Sorry, playing Candy Crush on your iPhone doesn’t count.

If that stigma is something that’s holding you back, I want to encourage you. People attracted to trades are often more “hands-on” workers with a high level of creativity. Many of our countries tradespeople maintain the infrastructure of the services we all enjoy. You are in good company, my friend.

Happy school hunting!

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Administrative Office: (518) 489-4026
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Administrative Office: (518) 489-4026 | Student Massage Clinic: (518) 489-4068 | Fax: (518) 489-0522