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, vocational institution, or community college. Continue on to find out more. View article »

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  • 0:03 Learning a Trade for a…
  • 0:40 Career Training…
  • 1:05 Training Information
  • 2:08 Apprenticeships
  • 2:39 Career Options

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Video Transcript

Learning a Trade for a New Career

If you want to learn a trade for a new career, it can be helpful to look at the training options at vocational schools and community colleges, as well as what different training programs entail and what types of jobs you can get when you finish. Individuals looking to learn a new trade 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 and community colleges can provide students with the specific job skills needed for entry-level positions through certificate or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs.

Career Training Program Options

While some vocational schools and community colleges provide training in multiple fields, there are also some schools that focus on training for a single career. Individuals looking for career education can find program offering in the following trades, among others:

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

Training Information

AAS degree and certificate programs at trade schools and community colleges usually take 1-2 years to complete. They usually require few or no liberal arts or general education courses, unlike a 4-year degree program or an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) program.

These programs typically include extensive hands-on training. through internships and externships, alongside classroom coursework. Financial planning, job placement, and internship placement assistance are offered at many schools. Usually the minimum prerequisite credential for one of these programs is a high school diploma or the equivalent, but it is important to check with the individual program for additional requirements. For instance, aspiring construction workers may need to have a certain level of physical fitness in order to complete the necessary job tasks.

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.


For some careers, it is also possible to get training through an apprenticeship program. For instance, this is the case for most electricians. These programs typically last for four to five years and include a combination of coursework and paid practice under the supervision of an experience journeyman.

In addition to a high school diploma or the equivalent, aspiring apprentices may need to meet additional requirements such as:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Having completed certain high school courses (such as math)
  • Passing an aptitude test
  • Passing a drug screening

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 for their chosen career. 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
  • Construction equipment operator

For individuals looking to learn a new trade, trade schools, vocational institutions, and community colleges can provide relevant training leading to an associate's degree or certificate. Apprenticeship programs are also available for some professions.

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