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Trade Schools



This article defines what trade schools are, and explains types of trade schools, information on how to find trade schools, and pros and cons of trade schools. It gives tips on how to decide which trade schools to consider. Keep reading for more on trade schools.

Because trade refers to buying and selling, as well as the set of jobs that require manual skills and because few schools are now called “trade schools,” people may not have a clear idea of what the trades are, let alone how to find a trade school. Fear not! This article will point you in the right direction.

What Are the Trades?

For the definitive definition of the trades, we turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2008-9 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, where occupations are listed and categorized. Here, we find the following trades:

  • Boilermakers
  • Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons
  • Carpenters
  • Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers
  • Cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers
  • Construction and building inspectors
  • Construction equipment operators
  • Construction laborers
  • Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers
  • Electricians
  • Elevator installers and repairers
  • Glaziers
  • Hazardous materials removal workers
  • Insulation workers
  • Painters and paperhangers
  • Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
  • Plasterers and stucco masons
  • Roofers
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers

How Do You Find Trade Schools?

Because the language for speaking about vocational training, and particularly the construction trades, has changed over recent years, there are very few trade schools that actually have the word trade in their names. The term Career and Technical Education, or CTE, has been introduced as the umbrella for all types of vocational training, and the term trade school has been subsumed in that group. So accredited schools that instruct in the trades may have alternative names, may include a mix of trade and non-trade instruction, or both.

Here are some of the words you will find in institutional titles of schools that do have instruction in the trades:

  • Institute of Technology
  • College of Technology
  • Technical Institute
  • Career Institute
  • Training Center
  • Career Training Center
  • Technical Training Center
  • Vocational Technical Institute
  • Career College
  • Technical College

You may also find some trade instruction offered at community colleges.

Pros and Cons of Trade Schools

Trade school is only one approach to learning a trade, and sometimes not the most widely chosen option. Here is a list of trades and their training options. The training option that, according to BLS is most frequently chosen has a +, while other options have √. Blank indicates that the option is not mentioned by BLS rather than that it is not possible. Notice that the most often chosen training varies by trade.

Trade

Apprentice

Program

Trade or Technical School

Employer-provided Training Program

Informal

on-the-job

training

Community or Junior College or Higher Degree

OSHA-approved training center

Boilermaker

+

 

 

 

Masons

+

 

 

Carpenters

 

 

Flooring installers/finishers

 

 

+

 

 

Cement/concrete/pavers, terrazzo

+

 

+

 

 

Construction/Building Inspectors

 

 

 

+

 

Construction equipment

 

+

 

 

 

Construction laborers

 

+

 

 

 

Drywall and ceiling tile

few

+

 

Electricians

+

 

 

 

 

 

Elevator installation/repair

+

 

 

 

 

Glaziers

few

 

 

+

 

 

Hazardous material removal

 

 

+

 

 

+

Insulation workers

 

 

+

 

 

Painting and paperhangers

+

+

 

 

Piping and plumbing

+

+

 

 

+

 

Plaster and stucco masons

+

 

 

+

 

 

Roofers

 

+

+

 

 

Sheet metal workers

+

 

 

+

 

 

Iron and metal structure and reinforcement

+

 

+

 

 

For work as an inspector or working with hazardous material, it is important to speak to your state licensing agency to understand their requirements. Other trades may have certificate or licensure programs, and it is a good idea to check to find out what these are, even if they’re voluntary, before embarking on any type of training.

How to Decide on Training?

Depending on the trade you have in mind, the chart above may have suggested other options besides trade school for you to consider. Three more things that can help you decide on your training are these:

1) Visit the sites of schools that instruct in the trade you’re interested in. You can find some in the Trade Schools Directory here: http://www.trade-schools.net/directory/trade-schools-directory.asp Compare this information with appropriate apprenticeship programs, which you can find listed at the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration here: http://www.doleta.gov/OA/eta_default.cfm

2) Because many trades are involved in unions, it can be useful to speak to a union representative. Here is a list:

  • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, 753 State Ave., Suite 570, Kansas City, KS 66101. Internet: http://www.boilermakers.org
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, International Masonry Institute National Training Center, 17101 Science Dr., Bowie, MD 20715. Internet: http://www.imiweb.org
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Carpenters Training Fund, 6801 Placid St., Las Vegas, NV 89119. Internet: http://www.carpenters.org
  • International Code Council, 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW., 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20001-2070. Internet: http://www.iccsafe.org
  • National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, Massachusetts, 02169-7471. Internet: http://www.nfpa.org
  • International Association for Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, 5001 E. Philadelphia St., Ontario, CA 91761. Internet: http://www.iapmo.org
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, 1125 17th St. NW., Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.iuoe.org
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1125 15th St. NW., Washington, DC 20005
  • International Union of Elevator Constructors, 7154 Columbia Gateway Dr., Columbia, MD 21046. Internet: http://www.iuec.org
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, 1750 New York Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20006. Internet: http://www.iupat.org
  • International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, 9602 M. L. King Jr. Hwy., Lanham, MD  20706 Internet: http://www.insulators.org
  • United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20001. Internet: http://www.ua.org
  • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers, 1660 L St. NW., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.unionroofers.org
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association, 1750 New York Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20006. Internet: http://www.smwia.org

International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, 1750 New York Ave. NW., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20006. Internet: http://www.ironworkers.org

3) It is also worthwhile to speak to representatives for other trade associations, which can be found listed on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Site.

In summary, whether trade schools will provide the best training for you will depend not only on the quality of the trade school, but also on the particular trade you’ve chosen and what its standard is for qualification. It may also depend on what part of the country you’re in and what the state certification, if any, requires of successful candidates.

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Construction Trades and linked pages - bls.gov

Trade Schools Directory - trade-schools.net