Technical School or Traditional College: What’s Worth Your Money in 2022

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Which education is more worthy of your money in 2022–technical school or traditional college? Find out with this guide!


by Bash Sarmiento | Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works. Follow him on Instagram @bashsarmiento.

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The decision on what type of tertiary education to take can be  life-changing. Therefore, it is only natural to take the time to consider your options carefully. 

One common dilemma is choosing between a technical school or a normal college. Decades ago, attending college was the superior option because it was more prestigious and offered better career opportunities. 

It is not the case anymore, as lifestyle, society, and work demands have changed drastically. There are also newer learning routes like self-guided online courses that enable you to take up job positions that did not exist decades ago. 

To help you decide, here is our take on the technical school vs. normal college debate!

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Advantages of Traditional College

Better Job Opportunities 

Although some technical or trade positions pay well, several college degrees still lead to lucrative careers. The fact remains that a university diploma can help you get high-profile positions. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, American college degree holders earn about 57,000 USD more than those who only have a high school diploma.

The Georgetown University Center on Education also reports that around 65% of jobs in the U.S. entail some form of a college degree. Several of them require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. 

Several entry-level positions are still high-paying for university graduates in fields like engineering, physics, data science, and computer science. 

Jobs that require college degrees usually provide benefits like medical insurance, vacation days, pensions, and other perks. In addition, going to college still carries a higher level of fulfillment and prestige. People still generally feel a sense of pride if they have completed a four-year college program. 

Tough Training Ground

The benefits of formal college education do not only include the result of completing it. University life is demanding, rigorous, and eye-opening. Attending college will develop soft skills like time management, interpersonal skills, leadership, and work ethics. You will learn to be independent, mature, and responsible. 

Although you may also learn these skills in technical college, you will have more time to hone them in university. University professors are known to be tough, and you will have to deal with a lot of stress and pressure. You will be working with and competing with smart, disciplined, and ambitious students. 

Networking Opportunities

This is one advantage of college that is often not discussed. College is the perfect place to network and make connections that can dictate future business and professional collaborations.

All the large tech personalities like Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg met their co-founders or future collaborators when they were attending university. If you want to find brilliant, respectable like-minded people, college is an excellent place to start.  

Aside from professional networking opportunities, college is also a place to meet people, with whom you can build long-lasting personal relationships, Many people end up marrying their college sweethearts. 

Students and Alumni All-Out Support

Many universities and colleges try their best to support their students and alumni. They employ career counselors to guide students in choosing the most suitable careers. They also organize recruitment fairs, internships, career talks, and career placement programs. 

Disadvantages of Traditional College

Despite its benefits, most prospective students choose not to attend college for reasons that include:

  • High tuition fees that lead to long-term debts
  • Longer time commitment 
  • High living costs when attending college. 

Traditional colleges can be three times more expensive than trade schools. U.S. News reports the average cost of tuition and fees for the school year 2021-2022

  • $11,631 for state residents at public colleges. 
  • $28,238 for out-of-state students at public schools
  • $43,775 at private colleges 

On top of paying the tuition fees, you will need to spend on educational materials, food, and boarding needs.

Technical School and Its Advantages

a man using a soldering iron
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

A technical school can also refer to a vocational college, trade school, or career college. This type of educational institution focuses on developing “middle skills” for a trade position or specific career. You can acquire middle skills after high school but do not need to go to university to learn them. Technical school usually subscribes to job training and skill application learning. 

Lower Tuition Costs

The primary advantage of going to a technical school as opposed to a traditional college is lower tuition fees. According to Forbes, a technical course can cost as little as $5,000 per year. 

Technical courses are more affordable but still equip you with the skills and knowledge to land a secure and promising job. 

Faster Job Finding

You can finish a technical school course in 18 to 24 months. This is, obviously, faster than a three or four-year bachelor’s degree program. This means that you can graduate and land a job faster. Choosing a technical course gives you an early start in saving and advancing in your chosen field. Furthermore, you will incur less debt from tuition fees and education-related expenses. 

Technical and Trading Jobs Pay Well

Gone are the days when an office worker has better pay than a carpenter or an electrician. Many white-collar industries are oversaturated with new graduates looking for work. On the other hand, trade and technical jobs are in demand. 

Examples of high-paying jobs you can do after attending a technical school include:

  • Electrician 
  • HVAC technician
  • Dental hygienist
  • Web developer
  • Aircraft mechanic
  • Paralegal

These positions can give you an average yearly salary of $50,000 and over (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Disadvantages of Technical School 

Technical education is not as flexible as a normal college education. Because the design and focus of technical schools are harnessing particular skill sets, your technical knowledge and skills may not be necessarily transferable to other work positions. For example, if you have studied plumbing, you cannot just switch to an auto mechanic job using the same training credentials.

The technical school does not enjoy the same prestige as universities. Many people still think that students who opt for technical education are not smart enough to attend university. This blanket statement is proven not true, but the stigma about technical schools remains rampant today. Hence, graduates of technical schools are not as proud of their educational attainment. 

Final Verdict

So which education is more worthy of your money in 2022–technical school or traditional college?

There is no blanket answer to this question. Though college degrees still retain their traditional prestige and recognition, attending university does not suit every personal goal and situation. 

What seems to be clear is in 2022 and beyond, traditional colleges and technical schools are both capable of giving you a high-paying and secured career. Therefore, you need to consider variables like finances, ambitions, and preferences in deciding which path to take. 


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