Trade School Requirements

Applying to programs in your senior year is an important step, but all of your high school years are important in preparing for life after high school. Students who are planning to attend a trade school can prepare throughout high school!

The most important thing to know about trade school is that you’ll need to know right away what you want to do for a job, since in trade school you learn skills for a specific job. Use your time in high school to learn about what your options are for trades.

Good options for learning about trades are your high school’s college and career center as well as an online platform for exploring careers if your high school has one. If possible try to meet with someone who is working in the job you’re interested in, which can help you better understand if that job is a good fit for you. Some good questions to ask include

  • How did you get your job?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • What do you not like about it?
  • What kind of education or training did you need to get your job?
  • What are the three most important characteristics for someone to be successful in your job?
  • What are the three most important skills to develop to be successful in your job?
  • What advice do you have for someone who is considering a career like yours?

What is a Trade School?

Trade school, also known as technical school, is education after high school that is focused on learning a specific job.

It’s different from a four year or two year college, which focus the first couple years on general requirements and then on a specific field of study.

In trade school, you’ll be working on the skills for a specific job right away, so you’ll need to decide what that is before applying to a program.

Who is a Trade School for?

Trade school is for anyone who knows what job they want to do and needs specific training for it. Examples of this include respiratory therapy, massage therapy or dental hygienist.

Trade school is also a good option for students who want to get started on learning the skills for a specific job right away and enjoy hands on learning.

How much time does it take to Complete Trade School?

The amount of time varies based on the requirements of what you need to learn to do the job and the specific program. Generally trade school programs range from 6 months to two years.

What are the Requirements to go to a Trade School?

The requirements for trade school vary significantly across different types of training and education for different types of jobs. You are usually required to have graduated from high school or earned your GED.

There are sometimes requirements of specific classes in high school (generally math or science) or you can take those classes as part of your trade school program. Sometimes placement tests (such as in math) are required.

As you’re investigating various trade school programs and the jobs they lead to, ask yourself questions like

  • What draws me to this career?
  • What are the costs of training? Are there hidden costs, such as travel, purchasing tools, purchasing uniforms, etc?
  • What is the job placement at the end of this program?
  • What is the starting salary or hourly wage for this job?
  • How does that salary or wage work with my budget for where I’ll be living?
  • How long can people stay in this career?
  • How can this career progress throughout my life?
  • Am I willing to move for your job?
  • What physical requirements does this career have? (What happens if I get injured? Can I do the job with any medications I take? Is there drug testing? Is a physical exam required? Do I need to be able to do lift a certain amount of weight? Can I have a tattoo?)
  • What are the other requirements (having a car, math tests, other skill tests)?
  • What if I change my mind? What are my options? Is any of the education transferrable?

Learn more about some of the trade school programs available in Washington State here, or check the website of your local two year college.

By Jennie Flaming