Choosing A Trade School: What To Look For

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    So, you’ve decided you’re going to go to trade school and you’ve narrowed down the trades you’re interested in, and now it’s time to pick out some schools to apply to. It might sound easy when you think about how easy it is to find information about colleges and compare them. Trade schools can be harder to research and information is usually sparse. However, if you know the right method to find them and you do some research, you should be able to make a good decision. 

    How to Find Information

    • The easiest way to find trade schools and program in your area is to Google your desired location, followed by the trade you’re interested in and a general term like school or program. For example, if you’re looking for a plumbing program in Florida, searching “Florida plumbing program” should be a good start. 
    • Community colleges can sometimes double as trade schools, so look at your local community college websites to see if they offer any programs you’re interested in.
    • Once you find one, call their office and ask them any questions that their website doesn’t answer. 
    • Stop by and check out their facilities. They’ll usually even let you shadow a class if you ask.

    What Information to Look For

    • Make sure the school you’re looking at offers the program you’re interested in. 
    • Look for specific details about their program such as the classes and their style of teaching. 
    • Check their instructor’s credentials and make sure they’re appropriate. 
    • Check that the program is both licensed by the state and accredited by a reliable organization. 
    • How much does the program cost? 
    • How long does the program take to complete? 
    • What do the program’s completion statistics look like? Make sure the people who attend the program have mostly been employed and successful. 
    • Check that their facilities and shops are clean and modern. 
    • Check the location of the school and whether it involves an online component. 
    • It sounds excessive, but do a Google search on their program and look for any news related to them or official complaints. Trade school quality assurance isn’t as accessible as it is for colleges, so make sure you’re thoroughly convinced that the school is reputable.
    • Ask what kind of connections they have with industry professionals, as this is a good sign of a successful, reputable program because alumni will come back to contribute, teach, and connect the program to their industry. 
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    Sean Fowler


    Aerospace Engineering at UMD, intending to specialize in aeronautics with a focus on aerospace structures and design.



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