So you have made the decision to get into the skilled trades! Good choice!
But now you might have more questions about attending trade school. This article will hopefully help you get some clarity!
If you are curious about how to get into trade school (also sometimes call vocational schools or technical schools), we have all the answers you need right here. We also have an article that goes into more detail on what a trade school is if you want to read that first.
If you are a high school student looking to drop out of high school, you may want to rethink that! Many trade careers do require some sort of vocational training and will require a GED or high school diploma!
Community colleges do also offer some certificate programs for vocational tracks. The requirements for community colleges are similar to trade schools – but not the same! So, if you are considering a two-year program, check with that school for additional admissions details.
Everything outlined below is specifically for trade schools.
Before you get started, you might want to read our trade school vs college article to make sure you are going down the right career path!
How To Get Into Trade School
Every vocational or trade school will have different requirements for entry, below are the most common you should be aware of. As always, check with the specific school you are interested in attending as they may have different requirements.
The age requirements will vary by state and school, so be sure to check the specific trade school you are interested in attending.
Generally, you will need to be 18 years or older to apply without a parent or guardian. Some schools have a minimum age of 16 with a parent’s consent.
Some specific programs do require students to be 18 years older as well.
A high school diploma or GED certificate will be required at most of the trade schools you are considering. If you did home-schooling that is accepted as well as long as you can prove completion. There is no need to provide SAT or ACT scores – which should make you really happy!
Some schools may require you to take a placement test to ensure you are a good fit for the school and have a basic understanding of basic educational principles.
You may be thrilled to find out that most trade schools will not include your GPA as a requirement for admission. For those that do not excel at academics like math or science, this is probably welcome news.
But, keep in mind some trade schools might ask for them depending on the trade you want to pursue. So, if you know you are really bad at math, and your grades show that you might not want to consider fields like pipefitting where math may be used more often. If you do have a low GPA, some schools might require you to take remedial classes and pass them to gain acceptance.
How To Apply To Trade School
Getting into a trade school is so much easier than college! Trade schools will typically offer a variety of start dates for their programs and often have what is called rolling admissions. This means you can get started earlier in your program and not have to wait a year to get started like in college.
When getting ready to apply, here are some tips to make it easy!
Choose A Technical School
Of course, you should know what trade career you want to get into before anything else. But, choosing a trade or vocational school is actually the hardest part! If you are not sure where to start, there are a variety of school search finders out there like Accredited Schools Online. High school students should be able to talk to their guidance counselors for higher education resources as well.
Below is a list of things you should consider before you get that application going.
- Do you want a school that is in an urban or rural environment?
- Will you live at home or need a school that offers housing?
- Are the costs in a range you can afford?
- Does the school offer scholarships, grants, or help with loans?
- Can they assist with job placement or do they offer career services?
- Do they offer the vocational courses for the career you want to go into?
- Will you graduate with a certification or associate degree?
To help in your trade school search we have created a full list of questions to ask a trade school to help you do your homework.
Before you even consider applying you need to understand the costs of the school you want to attend.
Visit the website of the school and look at the financial pages and see if they offer a calculator that can help you assess the estimated costs. It is usually called a net cost calculator or net price calculator. If they do not offer one, then do not be afraid to reach out to the school and talk to a financial aid or admissions counselor.
Once you understand the costs, it is time to understand how you will pay for it.
Check For Sponsorships, Grants, or Loans
This is the time to also look at financial aid options or scholarships. Many schools do have opportunities for students to obtain some funding, and may also have suggestions for loans.
Some common grants include the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplement Education Opportunity Grant.
Loan Programs include Federal Plus Loan, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan.
Get Your Documents In Order
Before starting the application it would be helpful to have your documents readily available. These documents might include:
- Proof that you did graduate high school, whether you received your GED or a high school diploma.
- If you needed to take placement exams of some type, you will want to have those results with you.
- Did you attend a community college or four-year program? Your transcripts from those schools should be available as well.
These items are often what trade schools require to submit with an application.
Once you are clear on the costs and how you will pay for it, you are ready to get the application going. Many trade schools now have their applications online, so you can easily visit their website and get started.
Applications will typically ask general questions about your background, previous education, skills, and employment. You should complete as many of the questions as you can and always be truthful!
Once your application is received, an admissions representative may reach out to do a phone or video interview with you. This will give you the opportunity to show them why you are a good fit, and also allow you to see if they are a good fit for you!
This is your chance to ask any questions you might have about the school. This can include information about federal student aid, your career path, career training, types of hands-on training provided, and more. Do not be afraid to get all the details you are unsure of!
You may be invited to do a school tour, or you can request to do one. This is optional, but can be helpful in ensuring the environment is right for you.
And that is it! Once you have applied and have proven you have met the education requirements, your enrollment should be accepted and you will get started as soon as the next program course starts.