In a time when college students across the nation face astronomical tuition rates/debt as well as an increasingly competitive job market, a trade school education can offer a faster, more targeted and more affordable path to career success for the right student.
“Some people tend to overlook trade schools when they’re looking to start a new career, and that’s a shame because they offer a lot of advantages,” says Thomas Eastwick, president of 45-year-old Eastwick College, which offers specialized degrees in 25 fields at campuses in Ramsey, Hackensack, Nutley and Paterson. Among the benefits of a trade school education, “the programs are generally more affordable and take a lot less time to complete, enabling a graduate to start earning a strong salary a lot sooner and with less student loans to pay off,” Eastwick said. “In addition to offering excellent job security and plenty of room for advancement, trade careers can also be much more rewarding for someone who’s more hands-on.”
Trade schools can also provide targeted education in high-demand fields. Specifically, “there’s a skills gap in the U.S. and, prior to the recent pandemic, we had more job orders from employers than we had graduates,” said Scott Shaw, president and CEO of Lincoln Educational Services Corp. (Lincoln Tech), which has New Jersey locations in Iselin, Mahwah, Moorestown, Paramus, South Plainfield and Union, and offers degrees in the automotive, skilled trades, health sciences and IT tracks. According to Shaw, “95% of the students at Lincoln Tech in New Jersey are enrolled in programs deemed as ‘critical/essential jobs’ by the Department of Homeland Security, which enabled many of these individuals to remain employed throughout the pandemic.”
“As manufacturing begins to return to the U.S. — a trend expected to increase as a result of COVID-19’s impact — there will likely be an even greater demand for these types of employees,” Eastwick added. “Our goal is to help prepare our students for these and other trade career opportunities.”
Students train in HVAC systems at one of Lincoln Tech’s campuses in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Technical Institute
Experts confirm that a trade school education offers other benefits as well. Among them, “our programs are accelerated so that students can complete their education sooner and enter the workforce more quickly, usually in under 13 months,” Shaw said. “Our faculty come from industry and share real-world skills with our students, which boosts their engagement with the course material and drives higher graduation rates than at community colleges and with much less debt incurrence when compared to bachelor’s degree programs.”
With two convenient locations in East Orange and Jersey City, “National Career Institute (NCI) offers a range of courses that meet every individual’s needs, whether you’re starting a new career in the medical and trade fields or advancing your current career with additional national certifications that you can take with you nationwide,” said Dr. George P. Blount, president/CAO of NCI. With programs ranging from three to nine months and financial aid available for those who qualify, “NCI offers flexible day and evening class schedules and a career pathways program where you can earn your high school diploma and your trade certification at the same time,” Dr. Blount said.
A student at National Career Institute trains in the electrical department lab at the school’s East Orange campus. Photo courtesy of NCI
The ‘Right’ Candidate
In terms of the optimal candidate, “our students come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all share a drive to better themselves,” Eastwick said. “If you have a desire to work with your hands, a trade school track could be for you.”
Shaw agreed. “Many students can’t see themselves working inside, in a cubicle, staring at a computer all day — they prefer to be outdoors or in a less-confining work environment,” he said. “Trade school graduates have high job satisfaction because they’re doing something they enjoy and are passionate about. They enjoy fixing, building or improving things with their hands or helping others.”
Among the myths experts hope to dispel is that a college degree is the only way to achieve a rewarding, long-term career. “The conventional wisdom has been that you need to attend a traditional four-year college or university to get started in a high-value career, but that’s not the case,” Eastwick said of trade careers that can boast impressive salary potential and prepare graduates for management positions or business ownership.
Ultimately, “our mission is to prepare students to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing employment landscape by offering skills, training and employment opportunities necessary to compete in today’s marketplace,” Dr. Blount said. “At NCI, our saying is that “a year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today.”
For more information on Eastwick College, visit www.eastwick.edu. For more information on Lincoln Tech, visit www.lincolntech.edu. For more information on National Career Institute, visit www.nciedu.com.