Pros and Cons: Vocational Training vs a College Degree

Woman thinkingA large part of the job-searching process is about certification and education. Often, we need to find a way to maximize our hiring potential, and it can require more creativity than we had formerly thought! The route you choose to go with your education is a major key in your job eligibility later on.

Are you debating going to a traditional college or trade school? There are reasons to go to both! Learn more about the pros and cons of both options, below…


Vocational training programs come in a variety of different forms, whether it be a trade school, community programs, or specialized rehab facilities that teach vocational and life skills. Either way, vocational training programs teach students a particular skill that can be used in the workforce to command a higher salary. These programs help lift individuals from unskilled labor jobs to skilled labor jobs, such as electricians, carpenters, machinists, mechanics, and many, many other examples.

Lecture hallPros

Vocational schools are best for individuals who know what they want to do with their life, and need a timely and cost effective way to get into that field. Because a trade school teaches students about one particular field, they are able to quickly teach about very specific subjects, which means less years spent in a classroom for students, and more time in their lives to actually work in their preferred field. These training schools then provide certifications which are valued in a wide variety of professions.

Another great way that trade schools and other vocational training programs help society at large is by enabling people from lower income situations to expand their opportunities. Trade schools are able to do this at a much higher rate than traditional colleges, which have a history of exclusivity on the basis of class. This helps raise people out of poverty, homelessness, and even addiction, which continues to be a troubling issue for lower class individuals.


The biggest strength of vocational training programs is also their biggest problem: their specificity. Because a trade school only teaches about a very specific skill, students don’t get the same broader education on a variety of subjects that they otherwise would get at a traditional college. This makes it highly difficult to adapt one’s career later on, because the only valuable skills that a person has are wrapped up in one particular job.

For example, a person who goes to trade school to learn to be a diesel mechanic is pretty much guaranteed a job when they are finished, right now. However, if a shift towards electric vehicles occurs across the market, then that same individual would soon find that their job becomes needed less, and it would be difficult to transition with these changes.


Students working on projectTraditional colleges are nothing new, but people are attending them at a higher rate than they ever have, despite the fact that the cost of higher education is historically higher than it’s been in modern times. Because of this, should people continue to seek out traditional 4-year degrees?


Trade schools are highly effective at teaching students about a narrow (albeit highly needed) array of professions. However, a 4-year college has the ability to prepare students for a much wider variety of professionals. If one wants to be a psychologist, biologist, chemist, engineer, architect, accountant, pilot, or professor, among many, many other careers, then they pretty much guaranteedly need a bachelor’s degree, at the very least. In addition to this, most higher management positions require a 4-year degree, as well!.

Colleges also are able to give students a much broader base of education. One of the most important missions of education isn’t to teach students what to think, but how to think. The general skills of communication, research, and writing that most traditional college students learn can be applied to a wide degree of different fields. In addition, the community aspects of traditional colleges build professional contacts and networks among people who learn at the same institution, which goes a long way towards creating later business relationships.


One of the biggest disadvantages of college is simply the fact that it is so expensive, nowadays. Even with an abundance of scholarships, a 4-year degree can leave a graduate with a mound of student debt. These costs can climb if you need to pick your school based on how good it is for the major you are going to be studying, rather than looking for the cheapest option. As these costs continue to climb, there are less and less good options for paying for college, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution for the foreseeable future.

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