Tips for Getting into Trade School
Depending on your professional goals, you may want to pursue going to a trade school or technical college.
Why Go to a Trade School?
These programs are full of opportunities for those looking to enter a skilled trade.
Whether you’re just graduating from high school or considering a career shift, going to trade school is something anyone can do at any time in their working life.
When you apply for college, there are several requirements you must meet. Similarly, there are certain steps you should take when looking for and applying to a trade school.
Though there are fewer requirements, it’s still important to understand how to apply so you can feel more confident in your education and future career.
Going to a Trade School
A trade school is an institution that instructs students on specific careers, teaching them the skills they need to complete their jobs and providing hands-on training to prepare students for the real world.
Trade schools can train individuals for a career in many fields, including:
- HVAC systems
- electrical work
- video game design
- veterinary work
- and more!
Advantages to Trade Schools
Attending a technical program can save you thousands compared to getting a bachelor’s degree at a state college or university.
In Demand Jobs
There is also high demand for many trade jobs, meaning you spend less on your education and enter the job market faster.
Length of Time
Most programs take one to two years to complete, which saves you time and money in the long run.
Applying to Trade School
The first true step to applying to a trade school is discovering what type of skilled trade you want to enter.
With this knowledge, you can begin searching for programs in your state or elsewhere and apply.
The following steps provide a good outline of how to apply to trade school.
Find the Right Program
When researching technical schools, look at the programs each institution offers to ensure they fit your career goals.
If you think you might want to further your education, see what extra training or specialized paths the school provides. Some institutions specialize in fields like diesel mechanics or CDL truck driving, which may make your decision easier if you feel set on that career.
Many people attend trade school because it’s more affordable and works as a fast track to getting a job.
How Else Can the School Help You?
While this varies by person and career, you should look for schools that offer financial aid as well as assistance with job placement or internships. Doing so can help you cover tuition costs and boost your chances of finding a job after, or even before, you graduate.
What Do You Want to Do?
You don’t have to know what career you want to attend a trade school, although it is ideal if you do.
Consider a few skilled trades you might do well in. Then, make a list of schools you’d like to visit and reach out to their admissions team to discuss your career goals and possibly schedule a visit.
Meet All Requirements
Always check the requirements needed to attend or apply to each trade school.
For most schools, applicants must be 17 years or older to attend, although some have a minimum age requirement of 16.
All accredited trade schools require you to have either a high school diploma or GED. They may also have specific GPA requirements.
Courses in High School
While you’re still in high school, it might be a good idea to take classes related to the trade career you want to get into after graduation. See if your high school offers post-secondary programs in subjects like auto mechanics, culinary arts, or cosmetology.
These programs provide you with a basic understanding of the trade as well as some helpful on-the-job experience.
Find and Complete the Application
Once you’ve decided on the program you want to apply to, look for their application form on the school’s website. You can complete most applications online in a single day.
Check the website for specific deadlines and be ready to pay an application fee upon submitting the form.
Trade school applications may ask you to fill out information about your background, previous education, any jobs you’ve had, and the program(s) that interest you most.
There are a few additional documents you need to apply to trade school. Most institutions ask for a copy of your high school diploma or GED and any transcripts from your high school or additional schooling from your past.
Though not required, you can also ask a teacher, co-worker, or supervisor to submit letters of recommendation as well.
How Are Your Finances?
If they offer financial assistance programs, plan to discuss your financial needs. You can also look for scholarships offered through the school.
Interview with an Admissions Rep
After applying to trade school, an admissions representative should reach out to you to schedule a meeting. During this meeting, you’ll discuss your career goals.
Admissions counselors help you determine the best program for you and provide information about the school.
Note that this interview does not determine whether the school accepts you into their program. Instead, it’s more of an informational interview to ensure you’ve found the institution that matches your career aspirations.
Ask as many questions as you’d like about the school and the programs or services they offer.
Take a Placement Exam
People applying for college usually take the ACT or SAT. You can take one of these tests for technical school, too, although trade schools often require a different type of exam entirely.
After you apply to a particular program, you must take its placement exam. This standardized test analyzes your skills and abilities in subjects like reading, writing, science, and math.
Trade school placement exams provide insight into what programs suits students best. Some programs might require you to have a certain score among specific subjects, so have a study plan ready before taking the exam.
You can prepare for a trade school placement exam like most standardized tests and find study materials available online.
Planning for Trade School
After receiving your acceptance letter or email, plan your next steps.
Your preparation might include budgeting for school, saving for a down payment, or buying the supplies you’ll need for a specific program or course.
Consider your work schedule and social life and make sure you can fully commit to your education while balancing other responsibilities.
Some trade schools offer part-time schooling for adults with other obligations like taking care of their family or working a full-time job.
When applying to trade schools, understand that there are several benefits to earning a degree or certification in a skilled trade.
Whether you have the time now or need to plan for the future, attending a trade school is a smart career choice.