University vs. technical school is a question on many high school graduates' minds. Considerations to review include cost, the amount of time required, one's life situation, and career goals. Learn about career training at technical schools verses how attending university may help your career.

Making a choice between attending a university and attending a technical school depends largely on just a few factors:

  • how much time one has for schooling
  • one's financial situation
  • one's life situation and
  • one's career goals

This article explores these considerations.


Unlike a bachelor's degree at a university, which takes four years to attain, many technical degrees can be achieved in only two years, though some require four years. And also, unlike many bachelor's degrees, which are not meant to prepare the candidate for the job market, there's a better chance of quickly gaining employment afterwards.

There are some very good reasons - for example, prior medical expenses or family obligations - that make spending a minimum of time and getting into the workforce as soon as possible makes sense. A technical degree can provide training in a number of fields that offer good possibilities for employment.


The cost of a university education is another factor that may make a technical degree look attractive by comparison. Technical school tuition is typically less expensive - and in some cases, a great deal less expensive - than the cost of university tuition. Add to that the time factor - two years of attendance rather than four - and the desirability may increase even more.

However, for the person who aspires to a university degree but cannot afford it, getting a technical degree in two years and being able to work might allow either the possibility of part-time university attendance or the ability to save enough money to afford to attend a university full-time, and perhaps only work during the summers.

Life Situation

Whether a stay-at-home mom is thinking about entering the work force for the first time, a retired person is considering a second career, a person has become unemployed and needs a short road back into the workforce, or someone skilled in one area just wants to broaden his or her horizons to open more career opportunities, technical school may be a good solution.

Career Goals

But many of the reasons to choose between a university education and a technical school education are firmly grounded in the area of career goals. The person who desires a professional degree, such as a law degree or an M.D., to be a teacher or administrator in a school, to reach a management level in any field, who wants a theoretical understanding of the sciences, or who is interested in most areas in the humanities, is more than likely going to need a university degree rather than a technical school degree in order to pursue his or her career plans.

On the other hand, the careers that require a technical degree may be best pursued by attending a technical school. The person who wants to be a chef, an auto mechanic, or a hair dresser may not be well served at a university.

Here is a list of a range of the degrees that are typically offered at technical schools:

  • Animals: Veterinary technology, equine studies
  • Business: accounting, business administration, marketing, office management, secretarial
  • Computer: information technology, webmaster training
  • Construction: construction practice and management, electrician
  • Culinary: baking, chef training, hospitality management
  • Design: animation, CAD, drafting, fashion design, graphic design, interior design, photography, video production
  • Engineering: aeronautical engineering, architectural engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer engineering, computer software engineering, electrical engineering, electromechanical engineering, mechanical engineering
  • Fire science
  • Legal System: Paralegal, criminal justice
  • Medical Studies: Medical assistant, medical administration, medical coding and billing, emergency medical technician, dental hygiene, practical nursing, respiratory therapy
  • Technicians: Automotive technician, motorcycle technician, aviation technician
  • Travel


Vermont Technical College -

Technical School Directory -

Association for Career and Technological Education -