Technical, trade and vocational schools offer students traditional classes plus hands-on training and on-the-job experience. Some programs require several weeks to complete, but most take one to two years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Community colleges, nonprofit and for-profit trade schools offer degrees in a variety of programs, with some curricula focused on specialty training in manufacturing, business, technology and health. Many career fields demand only a trade school degree for success.
Business and Office Management
Trade schools issue degrees in business and project management and administration and accounting technology. Basic degrees in business and office skills also focus on areas of accounting, finance and human resources management. Students in community colleges trade programs have the option of earning associate degrees in these areas that they can later apply toward a four-year business degree.
Manufacturing and Construction Specialties
Students at trade schools specializing in the manufacturing and construction specialties have the option of earning a degree with an emphasis in plumbing, carpentry or cabinetmaking, or a diploma as an industrial, commercial and residential electrician. Many trade and technical skills offer programs in heating, ventilation and air conditioning or refrigeration, and some give technical degrees in pipefitting.
Students in advanced trade programs earn degrees in highly sophisticated manufacturing technology, including electro-mechanical technologies that help students locate work as an electronic systems technician.
Fashion, Beauty and Health
Some technical schools focus on the skills needed to work in fashion, beauty and careers in health care. Beauty schools give degrees in cosmetology, manicuring, barbering and hair design. Some states allow beauty schools to give degrees that allow the student to work as massage therapists and estheticians, but others limit these degrees to licensed medical and nursing graduates. Medical classes at trade schools have programs for students to earn degrees in nursing and dental assisting. Health information technology degrees teach students the practical skills to take jobs with insurance companies, hospitals and medical offices.
Engineering, Media and Technology
Information systems and technology, software applications and development and network systems administration form the core of study at some trade schools. Departments at vocational schools focused on engineering include degree offerings in engineering technology and drafting and design technology. Students interested in graphic communications and design, visual communications and web design can also earn degrees at both onsite and online trade schools. Career programs at many trade schools feature degrees in automobile, diesel and heavy vehicle technology. Specialty degrees in these fields include automotive high performance, collision recondition technology and automotive diagnostics.
Criminal justice programs at trade schools offer courses in forensic technology and general study in criminology. Some schools also have programs for formal degrees in paralegal studies and cyber security. Police departments and private law enforcement agencies look for employment candidates with degrees in criminal justice as new hires.
- U.S. Office Federal Student Aid: Learn About Your College and Career School Options
- CNNMoney: Nine Months in Trade School. Job Guaranteed.
- Henry Ford Community College: Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship
- DeVry University: Colleges and Degree Programs
- CNNMoney: Community College Grads Out-earn Bachelor's Degree Holders
- Washington Times: Book Review -- Is College Worth It?
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.