Why Trade School Is a Great Option for Teens to Consider

My son came out of my womb wanting to do stuff. He loved moving furniture at a young age. Any time I tried to paint a room, he wanted in. When I went through my beaded-jewelry making stage, he’d get so excited when my beads came in the mail he had to be the one to open them and he insisted on making jewelry of his own.

He and my ex-husband would spend hours outside cutting brush, making big fires, trimming trees and doing yard work. Even when he was two, he was a big help. As a tween, he got a job haying and has spent the past few years working with his dad as a plumber. 

There are many options of trades to study, including Vet Tech. (Twenty20 @AZ.BLT)

My son has always preferred to be active

My son has always preferred to be active and moving and he has a hard time sitting still for long. Video games do not appeal to him and he is always outside tinkering with his truck or skateboard.

To say that traditional school has been tough for him is an understatement. He doesn’t absorb things by sitting in a classroom and being taught in the usual way. He learns things by doing. 

He can’t wait to graduate this year and be done with school but as the years have passed it has become more and more obvious that a traditional four-year college is neither a place where he would thrive, nor what he wants right now. My son needs to find a profession that’s hands-on. Among other things, he is considering working with cars, machinery, or plumbing. 

My son is taking an alternate path to trade school

I’m damn proud of my son no matter what he decides to do and I have no objection that he’s taking a different path than I did. He knows what he wants and I’m glad that he is swimming against the current doing what is right for him. A four-year college simply doesn’t make sense for him right now. 

The way I look at it, even if my son doesn’t end up making a career of his trade, he is still going to be learning valuable life skills. Not to mention, a trade school is a much cheaper option that will allow him to start earning a good living right out of school.

Trade schools, vocational and technical schools are two-year programs that train for a particular occupation. Here are some great schools we found in our search. (Please be aware that this list is by no means exhaustive. See below for more resources).

Eight great trade schools

North Central Kansas Technical College

NCK Tech says that, “most of our graduates earn as much as 4-year institution graduates, meaning you’ll graduate faster and save money on your education without sacrificing future wages.” It offers degrees in things from nursing to construction to the culinary arts.

State Technical College of Missouri

State Tech. has an impressive 99% job placement rate. It’s a small college so it’s great for the child who prefers a small, hometown feel to a big city. State Tech. offers programs such as Aviation Maintenance and Nuclear Technology, as well as many more.

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center

Located in Lancaster Pennsylvania, Lancaster County CTC Strats offering classes to high school junior as well as adults. They have many degree options to choose from: HVAC, Dental Hygiene, Web Design and Veterinarian Technology.

Johnson College

Johnson College in Pennsylvania and is a private school and offers many accredited programs such as Automotive Technology, and their Physical Therapist Assistant programs.

Rodsedale Technical College

Located in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, this college is a big supporter of women in the trades and offers training in truck driving, collision repair, and diesel technology.

Frontier Community College

Frontier Community College is located in Fairfield, IL and offers over 100 degree certificates. They also offer some of the lowest tuition rates in the state of Illinois.

White Mountains Community College

Located in New Hampshire, WCC has almost 50 programs and offers financial aid to 81% of their students.

Lewis & Clark Community College

Lewis & Clark Community College in Missouri has over 12,000 students and is committed to doing their part for the environment with their green campus.

College isn’t a one-size-fits all and our kids need to know that their are other options out there. A bachelor’s degree from a four-year university is not the only way to go after high school.

I’d much rather my son be happy, take his time to decide if he needs to, and know that he’s doing something he likes rather than just white-knuckling it through four more years of school.

After all, his well-being, happiness, and his future depend on it.

Other Resources



Vocational Training HQ

The Stigma of Choosing Trade School Over College (Atlantic)

List of vocational colleges in the United States

More to Read:

Parents Need to End the Stigma Surrounding Trade School

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

Read more posts by Katie

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