58 Trade school vs. college statistics for 2022
Deciding between a trade school and a traditional 4-year college can be a difficult choice for many students. On the one hand, attending a vocational school can be an excellent option for those who want to get the necessary training to secure a good job quickly. However, choosing a traditional college is also a viable option if you’re looking for a long-term program.
In this article, we’ll go over 57 insightful trade school vs. college statistics in 2022 to help you make the right decision. We’ll also cover the benefits and potential careers of trade school so you can get a better idea of what path is best for you.
Trade school vs. college cost statistics
Cost is an important factor when deciding your next steps in education. Check out some recent statistics that compare trade school vs. college costs to help you decide what fits your budget.
Average tuition fee statistics
Tuition has been increasing drastically over the years, especially when it comes to 4-year colleges. Check out some of the data we pulled below that covers average tuition rates in 2022:
- Trade school costs $5,000 to $15,000 for a 3- to 18-month program. (College Board)
- The average cost of a traditional 4-year college has more than doubled in the 21st century, with an annual growth rate of 6.8%. (Education Data).
- A 2-year public college education averages $3,621 a year. (Education Data).
- At public 4-year institutions, the average in-state tuition and required fees total $9,349 per year. (Education Data).
- The national average at 2-year for-profit private institutions is $15,333; nonprofit schools charge $16,898. (Education Data).
- $35,807 is the national average tuition cost of a 4-year private nonprofit educational institution; for-profit institutions average $14,957 annually. (Education Data).
- The national cost for a 4-year tuition has an average annual increase of 5.5%. (US Department of Education).
- At 4-year private schools, the average rise in tuition is 2.3%. (US Department of Education).
- For a 2-year public education, the national average tuition rise is 6%. (US Department of Education).
- Traditional college costs about $100,000+ throughout a 4-year period, which is 3 times more than trade school at $33,000. (Midwest Technical Institute).
Average total cost of additional expenses
High tuition fees alone can be a burden, but students also have to factor in additional expenses such as room, board, onboarding fees, and education materials.
See below for the average amount of additional expenses at 4-year and 2-year institutions.
- Books, supplies, and other costs average more than $400 higher at 2-year colleges than at 4-year ones. (Education Data).
- Additional expenses at 4-year institutions range from $2,733 to $6,022. (Education Data).
- Students living on campus at a public 4-year institution pay an average of $3,468 in additional annual expenses. (Education Data).
- Students at private, for-profit 2-year institutions spend an average of $2,498 on additional expenses if they live on campus. (Education Data).
- Students who live off campus may expect to pay $4,213 if they do not live with family; for students living with family, additional expenses average $4,204. (Education Data).
- Trade school costs are relatively cheaper than traditional college education as courses can be completed faster. (Career School Now).
- At 2-year institutions, additional expenses average between $2,498 and $5,150 . (Education Data).
- Students living off campus spend $5,150 if they do not live with family members; students who live off campus with family spend an average of $4,273. (Education Data).
- On average, room and board costs added $11,950 per year during the 2021-2022 school year. (Business Insider).
Student loan statistics
Total U.S. student loan debt continues to increase every year. As of March 31, 2021, the number lies at $1.6 trillion (Nerd Wallet). Here are key student loan debt statistics to know: How much student borrowers owe, how long it takes for them to repay the debt, and the types of loans they have.
- As of July 2021, There are a total of 43.4 million student borrowers who have an average debt of $35,453 each. (Student Aid).
- Trade and technical students finish school with an average of $10,000 in debt. (Center for Employment Training)
- Each year, 34% of students borrow money to pay for college. (Education Data).
- As of 2021, total student loan debt in the U.S. has surpassed $1.61 trillion. (Nerd Wallet).
- The top types of financial aid include scholarships, grants, loans, and a work-study setup. (Center for Online Education).
- Every second, student debt is accrued at roughly $2,858. (Debt.org).
- The student loan default rate is about 90+ days delinquent and sits at 11.4%. (Center for Online Education).
- Cumulative direct loans reached $101.4 billion in 2020. (Center for Online Education).
- As of 2020, the Center for Online Education averaged 360+ days of delinquency when it comes to direct loan payment. (Center for Online Education).
- Student debt is one reason why young graduates couldn’t start a business or get married. (Debt.org).
- There are 2.4 million student borrowers who owe an average of $54,921 each in private loans. (Education.org).
- To attain a bachelor’s degree, a public university student borrows around $30,000. (Education Data).
- There are about 5.1 million direct loan borrowers. (Center for Online Education).
- California, Texas, Florida, and New York have more than 20% of all student loan borrowers, with debts of more than $340 billion. (Center for Online Education).
Trade school graduate career statistics
There are many career paths for you to choose from after completing your trade school education. If you’re having trouble with career planning, check out some 2022 vocational school job outlook statistics below:
- The median salary for trade and technical school careers is $35,270. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
- The 5 fastest-growing jobs in health science are home health aides, personal care aides, nurses, physician assistants, and physical therapist assistants. (AES).
- The median annual wage for health care careers is $69,870. (BLS).
- In business and finance, the median annual wage is $72,250. (BLS).
- Employment in business and finance is expected to grow by 8% by 2030. (BLS).
- Moreover, the 5 fastest-growing jobs in business and finance are administrative assistants, office clerks, customer service representatives, operations managers, and secretaries. (BLS).
- For IT Jobs, the median annual wage is $91,250. (BLS).
- The 5 IT jobs with the best outlook are information security analyst, IT research scientist, web developer, computer support specialist, and software developer. (BLS).
- The median annual wage of production workers is $36,230. (BLS).
- In the manufacturing industry, the fastest-growing jobs are inspector, team assembler, maintenance, first-line supervisor, industrial machinery mechanic, and repair worker. (BLS).
- The average annual wage for government jobs is $63,659. (Zip Recruiter).
- The fastest-growing government careers include building inspector, tax collector, compliance officer, court and municipal clerk, and government program interviewer. (BLS).
- The median annual wage for occupations in the agriculture industry is $43,630. (BLS).
- The fastest-growing agriculture jobs include non-farm animal caretaker, refuse and recyclable material collector, and water and wastewater treatment plant operator. (AES).
College graduate job statistics
A traditional 4-year college education would usually get you a bachelor’s degree, which often increases your chance of employment. Many employers (depending on your field) are looking for recent graduates with a 4-year degree.
In this section, we’ll explore unemployment and job prospect statistics for a recent bachelor’s degree graduate.
- As of December 2021, there was a 4.9% unemployment rate for individuals aged 22 to 27 who have a bachelor’s degree. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York).
- As of December 2021, the unemployment rate for individuals in the same age bracket without a 4-year degree was 7.5%. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York).
- As of December 2021, 41.3% of fresh college graduates were underemployed. (Statista).
- The median salary of petroleum engineering graduates was $130,850 per year as of May 2021. (BLS).
- Actuarial mathematics graduates earn up to $108,350 per year. (College Consensus).
- Nuclear engineering graduates can make $116,140 when employed. (College Grad).
- Chemical engineers earn a salary averaging about $108,540. (BLS).
- Electronics and communication engineers have an average annual salary of $71,440. (Zip Recruiter).
- Computer science engineers earn around $83,821 a year. (Zip Recruiter).
- Electrical engineering graduates can make about $78,016 per year. (PayScale).
- An aerospace engineer makes around $118,610 per year. (Career Explorer).
Trade school overview
Now that we’ve covered some trade school vs. college statistics, let’s have an in-depth discussion about vocational schools and review the different career paths available for students.
What are trade schools?
A trade school, or vocational school, is a post-secondary institution designed for students who want to receive hands-on experience to prepare them for a specific career. Trade schools can be public or private, but many are for-profit businesses.
At a trade school, you can get a degree in fields like electrician programs, cosmetology, information technology, automotive technician training, nursing and health sciences, and medical assisting. After your 2 years are complete, you receive a trade certificate instead of a bachelor’s degree that proves you successfully finished.
Types of trade schools
There are many different types of trade schools out there, from electrical to cosmetic to culinary. Depending on your interests, there’s a vocational school out there that best suits your needs.
Check out some information about a few of them below:
- Computer Information Systems/IT: Training in computer information systems or information technology (IT) offers students the chance to study topics like cybersecurity, networking, and even game design. Diplomas, certificates, and associate degree programs can prepare students for entry-level careers in IT in 6–24 months.
- HVAC: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians can train for the job through certificate and associate degree programs, which generally take 1-2 years to finish. Class topics include mechanical refrigeration, heating and cooling theory, and electrical components.
- Cosmetology: Cosmetology trade schools teach students the art of doing makeup, nails, hair, and skincare in about 1-2 years. Students work in licensed, supervised salons with paying customers.
- Criminal Justice: Students can prepare for a career in the criminal justice system by pursuing a two-year associate degree in criminal justice or a 1-year certificate. Students in these programs often study criminology, constitutional law, criminal investigation, and research methods.
- Mechanic/Auto Mechanic: Students enrolled in auto mechanic trade school programs often learn how to service and repair domestic and foreign cars using multimeters, scanners, and other tools. Courses may cover topics such as transmissions, brake systems, and climate control systems.
- Culinary Arts: Through cooking labs, online tutorials, and on-the-job experiences, students can learn the fundamentals of culinary arts. Participants typically study subjects like cooking, baking, purchasing, financial accounting, and sanitation and safety.
- Electrical: Trade schools usually offer specialized 2-year associate degree programs or 1-year basic electricity technician certificate programs that teach students about direct and alternating current circuits.
Benefits of trade school
Trade school helps someone with no experience gain the initial education they need to be competitive in the job market and may also provide opportunities for career advancement. The biggest benefit of trade school compared to a traditional 4-year college is lower cost — this can be a determining factor for many students who struggle financially.
Other benefits of trade school include:
- faster graduation timeline
- fewer admission requirements
- small class sizes
- real-world experience
- job assistance
- preparation for in-demand careers
If you’re looking for an education program that offers the above, then trade school might be the best option for you.
Should you go to trade school or college?
Trade school is a great option for those who struggle with finances, are strapped for time, or are looking for a quick way to learn the technical skills of an occupation. To recap, here are some questions to consider when weighing your options:
- What are you passionate about?
- Are you on a tight timeline to get out of school and into the workforce?
- Do you have a restricted budget?
- Do you qualify for any grants or financial aid?
- Does the potential program align with your future goals?
Whether you want to be a mechanic, cosmetologist, or administrative assistant, you may benefit more from completing a trade school program than going to a 4-year college. It can provide the hands-on experience that you’re looking for, while jump-starting your career at a much faster pace.
Your options are endless
At the end of the day, the educational path you choose is yours and yours alone. Thinking about your ideal future and aspirations can help you pinpoint what’s most important to you and what it takes to get there. If decision fatigue is hitting, help with choosing college programs that are right for you and your goals are just a click away.