trade school vs community college

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    Trade School vs. Community College

    Can you earn the same as someone with a bachelor’s degree for 18% of the cost?

    One Size Fits None

    30% of students worldwide only go to a 4-year college because they think it’s the natural progression after high school

    23% only go because it’s expected of them

    4-year college might be the perfect fit if…
    Your chosen career path requires a bachelor’s degree
    You want to pursue a master’s or professional degree later on
    You have the time and funds to devote to the full-time college experience
    Education as an end in itself is important to you

    But what about everyone else?
    Be aware of other options:
    4-year college or university: Earn a bachelor’s degree
    2-year community college: Earn an associate’s degree
    Trade/vocational school: Earn a certificate, diploma, or apprenticeship

    Other Forms of Higher Ed Can Pay Off

    Lower Cost
    Average tuition and fees, 2017-2018 school year:

    Public 4-year institution (in-state)
    Annual: $9,970
    Total: $39,880

    Public 2-year institution (community college)
    Annual: $3,570
    Total: $7,140

    The average cost of a 4-year bachelor’s degree is 82% higher than the average cost of a 2-year associate’s degree

    Since 1992, the share of students leaving school with more than $50,000 of federal student debt has grown by 8.5X

    Comparable Payoff
    Pay gap for workers with different credentials levels off over time

    Median earnings for workers in Colorado after graduating, 2015:

    Trade/Vocational School
    Certificate (<1 year) 5 years: $39,391 10 years: $53,940Certificate (>1 year)
    5 years: $44,070
    10 years: $48,884

    2-year institution
    Associate of General Studies
    5 years: $40,513
    10 years: $47,716

    Associate’s degree (AA or AS)
    5 years: $36,920
    10 years: $42,484

    Associate of Applied Science
    5 years: $49,694
    10 years: $54,146

    4-year institution
    Bachelor’s degree
    5 years: $46,930
    10 years: $55,287

    After 10 years, a worker with a 1-year certificate made a median of only $1,347/year less than a worker with a bachelor’s degree

    Positive Employment Growth

    A growing number of recent college graduates* are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree:

    2000: 38%
    2015: 44.6%

    Most of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. won’t require a bachelor’s degree

    Employment growth 2016-2026:
    Wind turbine service technicians: 96.3%
    Home health aides: 47.3%
    Bicycle repairers: 29.3%
    Massage therapists: 26.3%
    Pet caretakers: 24.2%

    Skilled trade positions are plentiful—which path will you choose to fill them?

    Trade School vs. Community College

    Trade School / Vocational School

    Coursework: Specialization on chosen career field, no extra/general courses
    Faster track, but less room to explore other fields

    Learning environment: Hands-on

    Length of study: Usually less than 2 years, varies based on program

    Options for study: Many schools offer part time and online tracks

    Average cost: $33,000

    Financial aid: Eligible for loans, grants, and field-specific scholarships

    What you earn: Certificate or diploma, opportunity to take a licensing exam, or an apprenticeship/work as a journeyman, depending on field and school

    Ideal for someone who…
    Is sure of desired career field
    Learns by doing
    Wants to obtain credentials and join the workforce quickly

    Community College

    Coursework: Rounded education, requires classes outside chosen career field
    Credits can be applied toward a traditional college or university degree

    Learning environment: Classroom/lectures + hands-on, depending on field

    Length of study: Usually 2 years

    Options for study: Many schools offer part time and online tracks

    Average cost: $7,140

    Financial aid: Eligible for Stafford loans, Perkins loans, PLUS loans, Pell grants, and state-specific programs and scholarships

    What you earn: Associate’s degree; some grant certificates or diplomas to students who have completed course requirements for a chosen field

    Ideal for someone who…
    Would like to test out a few fields before settling on one
    Learns well in a classroom setting
    Is able to devote 2 years to education

    Not everyone needs the same education to be successful—Find the best fit for you

    trade school vs community college