College vs. Trade School: Pros and Cons

College vs. Trade School: Pros and Cons

Skilled trades encompasses a number of jobs like plumbers, electricians, construction workers and more. These jobs are necessary to keep our communities functioning, but unfortunately come with a stigma that isn’t entirely true.

The Pay Gap Between Trade School and College

One survey examining young people’s opinions on trade school found that young Americans don’t associate high pay and job security with trade schools. The same survey found that more than half of Americans think the trade school pay gap is higher than it really is.

Much of the stigma is thanks to those who enforce trade school and “non-traditional” options as viable options only if you’re unable to attend a traditional university. In reality, the career path a person takes relies entirely on their skillset, their goals, their financial situation and a number of other factors. The thought that skilled trade workers don’t pay well is also untrue. On the low end, plumbers make about $42,000 a year.

Home services software company Housecall Pro dove straight into the data to calculate the projected differences in things like lifetime earnings and ROI, costs, employment opportunities and more. 

Trade School Benefits

Although some perceive that trade school graduates make less money, there are actually many factors that make trade school more worthwhile than traditional schools.

For example, trade schools typically cost less to attend than a traditional college. On top of that, trade schools typically take about two years. The shorter time in school allows trade school students to start earning sooner than their traditional counterparts.

Trade School vs. College ROI

You can take a look at Housecall Pro’s summary of their findings below and look into their trade school vs college report to learn about their methodology and other in-depth information.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what your preferences are and your overall career goals. Consider an apprenticeship if a skilled trade sounds like a path you want to go down. If you’re still on the fence and want more information, you can take a look at our collection of blue collar job articles to learn more about the types of jobs and education options you have available.


college vs trade school comparison infographic


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  • March 6, 2022