The Benefits of Attending a Trade or Community College

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Traditional four-year degrees and colleges may be the norm, however, there’s no harm in exploring alternatives that can help you reach your goals quicker. If you haven’t considered them yet or just need more information about them, then keep reading because this article is packed with the benefits of attending a trade or community college. 

The Benefits of Attending a Trade or Community College

Community colleges offer unique opportunities in higher education, balancing affordability with access to various programs. They are a vital part of the higher education landscape, serving as a stepping-stone for further studies or a pathway to immediate employment.

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Attending a trade or community college can offer several compelling advantages as you consider your educational pursuits and career aspirations. Here are some key benefits that may draw your attention:

Lower Tuition Cost

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, shares:

“There are distinct advantages that either a trade school or community college would have relative to a standard 4-year college or university, however, the one advantage that both have is the cost.

On average, community colleges and trade schools will offer the most “bang for the buck” if one looks at the total expense over the course of the degree or certification gained between these options.”

When considering postsecondary education, your budget is a key factor. You’ll find that trade schools and community colleges present affordable alternatives to conventional four-year universities. Trade schools focus on vocational training for specific careers and often have a more concise curriculum, meaning lower general education costs. 

The economic benefit is clear: You can save substantially on tuition while earning an associate degree or a professional certification. 

More Flexibility

When you attend a trade or community college, you choose a path that offers you greater control over your education. Many community colleges offer courses at various times, including evenings and weekends. This means you can balance school with work or family commitments more easily.

You can take classes at a pace that suits your lifestyle and learning style. If you need to go slower for deeper comprehension or to juggle other life responsibilities, you can.

Remember, the flexibility of trade and community colleges extends beyond mere scheduling. It’s about providing a learning environment that adapts to your personal and professional needs, allowing you to pursue your education without putting the rest of your life on hold.

Transferrable Credits

The ability to transfer credits is one of the key benefits of enrolling in a community college. Many community colleges have articulation agreements with four-year universities, guaranteeing your credits can seamlessly move toward a bachelor’s degree.

However, it’s important to check that your credits will transfer to the institution of your choice. Review and understand transfer policies, as not all credits are created equal. Some may be elective credits, while others apply directly to your degree program. 

Trade and Vocational Focus

When you enroll in a trade school or vocational program, you sign up for an education tailored to equip you with specific skills for particular jobs. Unlike the broader curricula of many community colleges or traditional four-year universities, trade schools focus on hands-on training in fields like plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry.

The courses you’ll take are designed with one thing in mind: To make you job-ready as soon as possible. You’ll learn through practical experience, often with the same tools and technology you’ll use on the job.

A woman engrossed in a book while sitting on the stairs

Smaller Class Sizes

When you choose to attend either of these two institutions, one of the immediate benefits you’ll notice is the smaller class sizes. This environment fosters a more intimate educational experience that can profoundly impact your learning.

A smaller class size also means you’re not just another face in the crowd. Instructors are more likely to know you by name, making it easier for you to seek help and clarification when needed. This kind of setting is especially beneficial if you prefer a more hands-on approach to learning or are looking to build connections that can help with future employment.

Top Job Options For Trade School and Community College Graduates

For a fulfilling career path, consider these top five trade school jobs where your specialized skills will be in high demand. Don’t forget to check the specific job requirements for your area, as they can vary.

JobNational Average Salary
Maintenance Technician$49,794
Dental Hygienist$74,321
HVAC Technician$70,590

Maintenance Technician

As a maintenance technician, you are responsible for making sure machinery and equipment are in excellent working condition. You’ll receive hands-on training, which is vital for this practical career. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Routine inspection of equipment
  • Troubleshooting and repairing faults
  • Installing new machinery

The certifications or specific training your program offers can further enhance your desirability in the job market and potentially lead to a higher salary. It’s also important to note that your education may involve learning how to read technical manuals to understand machinery and equipment controls more comprehensively.

The national average salary of a maintenance technician is $49,794. 

Dental Hygienist

If you are passionate about the health sector, you could consider becoming a dental hygienist after graduating from a trade or community college. This position leverages interpersonal skills and technical proficiency to deliver comprehensive oral care and patient advice.

As a dental hygienist, you’ll play a critical role in preventative dental health, often the first to spot potential issues. You’ll conduct dental cleanings, assess oral health conditions, and even take part in more advanced procedures such as taking dental X-rays. Some of your other key responsibilities will include:

  • Performing oral health assessments
  • Removing plaque and calculus through cleanings
  • Educating patients on maintaining oral health
A man in a white coat getting his teeth cleaned by a dental professional

The national average salary of a dental hygienist is $74,321.

HVAC Technician

As an HVAC technician, you’re stepping into a role that involves installing, maintaining, and repairing climate control systems, which are vital for living and working environments. Your responsibilities will include making sure homes and businesses are equipped with heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and sometimes refrigeration systems. Other key responsibilities will involve:

  • Calibration and maintenance of HVAC systems
  • Installation of new systems and components
  • Troubleshooting and repairing existing systems
  • Conducting inspections and performing routine checks

By entering the HVAC field through a trade school, you’re setting the foundation for a future-proof career with diverse opportunities and the potential for financial stability.

The national average salary of an HVAC technician is $70,590. 


Choosing a career as a plumber through trade or community college education offers numerous benefits. You’ll gain practical skills that are in high demand, meaning job security is a strong advantage in this field, as plumbers are needed for residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

Enrolling in a trade school for plumbing often involves hands-on learning, which can be more engaging if you enjoy learning by doing. You’ll learn about pipe systems, fixtures, and the tools of the trade. Plus, many programs also include an apprenticeship, which allows you to gain real-world experience and earn while you learn.

The national average salary of a plumber is $73,341. 


Being an ultrasonographer is a rewarding trade, offering a blend of patient interaction and technical expertise. If you enjoy working with cutting-edge technology and have a keen eye for detail, this may be your perfect career choice. 

By pursuing a career as an ultrasonographer, you join a community of healthcare professionals dedicated to assisting with patient diagnoses through non-invasive technology. Your work is critical in healthcare while providing a fulfilling and reliable vocation.

The national average salary of an ultrasonographer is $71,570. 

Differences Between Trade School and Community College

A young woman focused on her work, sitting at a desk with a computer in front of her

Trade schools and community colleges may have some similarities, like shorter program durations and similar graduate job profiles; however, they do have several features that set them apart. 

FeaturesTrade SchoolCommunity College
Teaching Style This takes a more hands-on approach involving a lot of practiceA similar approach to a traditional college except that classes are smaller
Learning Environment Career-specific, so students spend more time in workshops rather than in classroomsMore academic approach, so students spend more time in classrooms and/or labs
Course DurationTakes a year or two, depending on the programTakes a minimum of two years and can extend depending on how you structure your education
Career PathTrade school prepares students for the specialized jobs market right after graduationStudents can either decide to start working or proceed to further their education
CertificationCertificates and diplomas Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Certificates, and Diplomas 
Tuition CostAverage cost of around $33,000Costs as low as $10,000

Related Questions

Is Community College Free?

Some states in the US have initiated tuition-free programs for community colleges. You can attend community college without paying tuition if you meet certain requirements and reside in one of these states. However, it’s important to note that while tuition might be covered, you may still be responsible for other expenses such as books, supplies, and living costs.

What Are the Academic Requirements for Trade or Community College?

Typically, admission to trade schools generally requires you to have a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED. This proves you’ve obtained a fundamental education that forms the base for more specialized training. In contrast, community colleges often have open admission policies; however, you still need a high school diploma or GED for most programs. 

Should I Go to Trade School or College?

Deciding between a trade school or a traditional college depends on your career goals, learning preferences, and financial situation. Trade schools offer focused training in specific skills, leading to quicker entry into the workforce and often with less debt. In contrast, traditional colleges provide a broader education, which can lead to a wide range of career options over time.  


In less than four years, trade schools can be the gateway to a lucrative career. Community colleges can offer a more rounded educational experience with the opportunity to attain an associate’s degree or transfer credits. Remember: regarding higher education, consider your career goals, learning preferences, and finances before deciding.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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