To Train Or Not?: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself To Find Out If Vocational Training School Is Right For You

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7 Questions to Ask to Know If Vocational Training Is For You

It's a great time to consider going to a vocational training school to learn a new skill and pursue a new career. American companies and small businesses are in desperate need of trained tradespeople across all industries.

There's a lot of advantages to attending a vocational school. For starters, it's much more affordable than a college degree. It will also set you up for job security and growth.

For many people, there's also a deep satisfaction that comes with using their hands and skills they've learned that is much more fulfilling than an office job.

But perhaps you're unsure if learning a trade is the right career direction. Here are seven questions to ask yourself to determine if vocational training is a good move for you.

1. Do I Like to Learn by Doing?

Much of the instruction done at vocational schools involves hands-on engagement. Let's face it, you cannot learn how to repair a car or fix a leaky pipe by just reading about it in the classroom. At a vocational school, you'll receive real hands-on instruction in addition to reading material.

This can be much more exciting for the kinesthetic learner, which is a student who absorbs more by hands-on teaching versus reading a book. By practicing your skill, you'll also be able to retain what you're learning and enable your instructor to make sure you're doing it correctly.

2. Do I Know What Kind of Job I Want?

When you attend a vocational school, you're focused on one particular trade of study. There's no such thing as general studies or liberal arts like there is at a college or university.

If you know specifically what you want to pursue for a trade career, such as plumbing, hair styling, or welding, then a vocational school is a perfect fit. Of course, there's no rule that says you cannot study more than one trade and then determine which one you like best.

Don't have any idea what kind of trade work you may want to pursue? Think about what hobbies and passions you have around the house.

For example, are you good at fixing or making things? Then perhaps carpentry or construction may be your passion.

You can also take a career assessment test to help point you in the right direction.

3. Do I Want to Save Money on a New Career?

It's no secret that college can be expensive. The average cost of tuition and fees in the U.S. is nearly $35,000 per year for private colleges without scholarships or any financial help. Factor in room and board, meals, books, and other expenses, it's no wonder many college students find themselves deep in debt.

Multiply that $35,000 by four years and you're looking at over $120,000 for an education. By contrast, the average trade school degree costs $33,000, which is slightly less than one year of college.

Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and who are Purple Heart recipients are also covered for 100% of their tuition at a public school such as a trade school.

4. Do I Want to Find a Job Right Away?

With such a demand for skilled tradespeople, finding a job after receiving your license or certification may happen really quickly. College grads, on the other hand, often find themselves struggling to launch their careers when jobs are in short supply.

Your vocational school may also be able to help you obtain an apprenticeship in your chosen trade that can lead to permanent employment. Many schools offer resources that can help students apply for and land jobs in their chosen field.

And because vocational trades require less time to learn compared to four-year college programs, you'll be starting a new career and earning money in a relatively short amount of time.

5. Do I Want a Flexible Course Schedule?

Vocational training programs tend to offer more flexible schedules than college programs, making them convenient for people juggling a job, family, and other responsibilities. Many vocational schools offer nighttime, weekend, and online classes to make it easier to pursue a trade in a timely manner.

6. Do I Want to Attend a School Close to Home?

With so many vocational schools across the country, chances are there's one within driving distance of where you live. This can be another good reason to choose trade training over a college degree. Vocational schools are usually designed to be commuter schools, which means you drive to them for your class instead of living on campus.

7. Do I Want to Make a Good Salary and Break the Stigma of Trade Work?

Despite an increased interest in trade jobs for career choices, there's still a stigma in the U.S. that trade workers are not as smart as college grads or those working office jobs. There's also a belief that trade school graduates do not earn as much as college grads do.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Most skilled trade jobs earn between $60,000 and $89,000 per year, depending upon the industry and position.

In Germany, trade jobs are a popular career choice. High school students are tested on their interests and are then given recommendations for trades to pursue.

By pursuing a trade career, you'll definitely be helping to change the stereotypes of trade employees and setting an example that it can be a fulfilling and financially viable career direction.

Is Vocational Training Right For You?

Vocational training can certainly several benefits over obtaining a college education. Trade careers are just one of the many job options available to disabled veterans.

If you'd like to get an idea of the types of trade positions and other jobs available to people with disabilities, check out our job search board for the latest openings.