While still in high school, decisions are made about one’s
future, including further education and future employment. While many students
choose colleges and universities, preferring to take an academic route, there
are many other options, including going to trade and technical schools.
Technical schools are schools which provide a variety of diploma and
certificate programs across a wide range of trades. Often of a two year
duration, these programs provide the skills and knowledge necessary to work in
a vast array of employment categories from office work including paralegal and
medical assistants to trades such as welding and construction.
Many programs in technical schools also include a hands-on,
practical component, with apprenticeships and internships in the field, with
established companies. This is particularly true in the trades, where the long
standing tradition of the ranks of apprentice, journeyman and master allow for
mentoring and the passing on of practical knowledge, learning while
employed. This make financial sense as
well as practical – keeping workers on site means that employers do not need to
constantly rehire, and apprentices and journeymen are able to fund their
education without needing to fall on student loans.
In terms of financial aid, most technical schools fall under
the same guidelines as colleges and universities – loans, bursaries and
scholarships are available. As well, with its shorter course of study, outside
of the expense university system, technical school tends to be more affordable.
While some technical schools are independent, focusing only
in their particular line of education (early childhood education, beauty
schools, information technology or automotive training schools, for instance),
community colleges often also offer technical programs, including certificate
and diploma programs. It is possible to find some programs available online, or
through correspondence courses as well, though in those cases finding
apprenticeships is even more important, as technical schools have the materials
and tools needed for hands-on education.
Unfortunately, there is still social stigma attached to
technical and trade schools and to community colleges, but the fact remains
that people in the trades are highly desired and sought after, and wages in the
trade sector can be well above the average income, particularly if one
continues to upgrade and recertify after graduation.