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Learn a Trade: How Do I Learn a Trade for a New Career?

Individuals who want to learn a new trade or career skill may be interested in attending a trade school. A trade school, also referred to as a vocational school or technical college, is generally defined as an educational institution or program that prepares students for a specific career or vocation by teaching them marketable, applicable skills.

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How to Learn a Trade for a New Career

Individuals may want to consider whether their chosen career requires advanced training or if advancement and experience may be gained on the job. For jobs requiring advanced training, trade schools can provide students with the specific job skills needed for entry-level positions. These programs may take 1-2 years to complete. They don't generally require students to take liberal arts or general education courses, as in a 4-year degree program. In some cases, similar training is available at community colleges via certificate programs.

Types of Trade Schools

  • Aesthetician/beauty
  • Maritime academies
  • Culinary
  • Truck driving
  • Construction
  • Automotive repair and detailing

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Training Programs

Typical curricula at a trade or vocational school provide extensive hands-on training. Many programs require students to complete coursework along with internships or externships in order to graduate. Financial planning, job placement and internship placement assistance are offered at many schools. Program graduates are often awarded a certificate of completion or a diploma.

Trade schools may also provide additional business or accounting courses to help students become more adept in all aspects of their field. Some trade schools help troubled youth and disabled or mentally challenged individuals gain employment and life skills.

Career Options

Prospective trade school students are advised to do their own research before enrolling in any vocational program so that they have realistic expectations on what education, licenses or certifications may be required. They should also research the actual salaries associated with that profession. Some career titles for graduates of trade schools include:

  • Medical technician
  • Automotive repair technician
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Truck driver
  • Hair stylist
  • Marine mechanic
  • Medical coder and biller
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