Guest Contributor

Trade School: Your Ticket to a High Paying Job

By | Dawn Castell

Even if a typical university education isn’t the right choice for you, that doesn’t mean you cannot earn a great living. Many other educational programs can prepare you for a successful career. Getting a degree takes a long time, and it’s expensive. In the interest of gaining a well-rounded education, you’ll study many things that are not directly related to the work you want to do. Trade schools and training programs, on the other hand, will focus your studies on a specific skill or vocation. In less than half the time it takes to get a bachelor’s degree, you can be well on your way to a high-paying job. Here are just a few of the areas in which you may find satisfying and financially rewarding employment.


In the legal profession, attorneys and judges play the starring roles. However, it takes many skilled individuals to make the entire process work. A trade school can prepare you to be a court reporter in just two years, at which time you will have earned a certificate or associate’s degree. Many court reporting agencies throughout the country are looking for qualified candidates. There are also certificate programs that will prepare you to be a paralegal or legal assistant, and many of these offer both online and classroom options.


In this case, there are lots of trade schools and training programs, which on the other hand, will focus your studies on a specific skill or vocation. With a certificate program that can take less than a year to complete, you can become a licensed practical nurse, medical assistant or medical administrative assistant. With a two-year program, you could become a diagnostic sonographer, radiology technician or one of many other careers that are vital to the healthcare profession.

Contractors and Tradespeople

If you’ve ever needed a plumber on a national holiday, you know that it is a very lucrative career. Trade schools can teach you to become an electrician, HVAC specialist or one of a long list of skilled trades. You will learn the specific skills needed to perform your job, after which you may complete an apprenticeship or a period of on-the-job training before being eligible for licensing. Trade schools generally offer either certificates or associate’s degrees for a variety of skilled trades in the construction industry.

A two-year program can also prepare you to become a licensed general contractor who manages large construction projects, including hiring and supervising all the necessary skilled tradespeople and sub-contractors. A career as a general contractor can provide a very desirable income.

Information Technology

Because the IT field is so broad, specific certifications can make you stand out as a great candidate for some companies, depending on their network environment. Microsoft, for example, has several certifications that you can earn through a technical school program. You can become certified in many different specific applications, which tells potential employers that you are serious about learning and staying abreast of new technology. In addition to network and system management, a technical school can provide training in software development and programming, which is a skill that is always in demand.

Landscape Designer

If you love the outdoors, a career as a landscape designer might be for you. Some certificate programs take only a year to complete, while an associate’s degree generally takes two. You’ll learn about the science of horticulture and the skill of designing beautiful outdoor spaces. Your studies would include understanding which plants are best for a particular climate, what their ideal growing conditions are and how to group them for the maximum aesthetic appeal. As with some of the other careers mentioned, this education will provide you with the tools you need to start your own landscape design business and enjoy the freedom of working for yourself.

Trade schools and associate degree programs can provide you with the skills you need to obtain a rewarding and high-paying job in a wide variety of industries and professional settings. Unlike a traditional university education, a trade school will focus your studies on courses that are specific to your desired career or vocation. Obtaining a certificate or associate’s degree can lead to a career in the legal field in just two years. In the medical arena, there are many jobs available that don’t require a four-year degree. Certificate programs can prepare you for a variety of positions, including operating diagnostic testing equipment and nursing roles. Whether you are interested in the law, healthcare services, the building trades or a long list of other possibilities, a trade school or certification program can be your ticket to a successful career.




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