Starting Your Career

Apprenticeship Or Trade School: Which Is Best?

Richard Stockton
Sr. Writer

Posted 08/09/2019

When you're just starting out, getting a foot in the door of the trades can be daunting. Different industries have different requirements, after all, and you don't want to waste your time with the wrong type of training right off the bat. For some industries, there's really no alternative to job training at a trade school, while for others you can jump right in with an Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP). Here are some things to think about before you decide which one is right for you.

Skilled Trades May Take Training

Skilled trades have gotten a lot more technical over the years, and that complexity takes training. If you want to be an electrician, a machinist or work in the health field as a nurse or paramedic, you almost certainly need a vocational certificate. Telecom workers and most mechanics can benefit from some kind of official certification, as can computer programmers and many people who get jobs in tech.

The best place to look for training in these fields is often your local community college. Local schools offer a range of training programs for the trades, and some of it can get really technical (read: well-paid). Because most medium-sized cities have at least three or four community colleges, many offering different programs for training, it shouldn't be hard to find something you're interested in nearby. Community college programs are generally in high demand since their costs are typically low. If you've been waitlisted for a program you really want to get started in, there might be a private trade school somewhere nearby that offers a similar program, though these can be two or three times more expensive than a public college's training plan.

Paid Apprenticeships Are Cool Too

Not every awesome job forces you into a classroom, and some will happily pay you to learn the ropes. In the building trades, you can often get a paid apprenticeship to help out on the job site while you learn the skills of a journeyman carpenter, plumber or other professional. A lot of manufacturing jobs start out as apprenticeships and then develop into full-time paid employment after you meet the industry's standards for work.

You can shop around for an apprenticeship in lots of different places. Generation T has a great list of opportunities you can bookmark, then keep checking in on so you don't miss any updates. You can also browse the site for trade school information and training opportunities that can help you get your start in whichever field it is that you're interested in as a career.