Technical School Vs. College: Which Do I Choose?

In American high schools, students are often shuffled towards traditional college. It is as if it is their only option for future success. College seems like a golden ticket. The truth is, there are many other options to success, specifically technical college. Here we will discuss how to decide between technical school vs. college.

Technical vs. Community vs. Traditional College

There is a difference between technical, community, and traditional college. Technical college is exactly as it sounds. It teaches technical skills. Technical skills does not mean “technology-related”. They are skills that are highly specified to one industry. Some typical examples are plumbing, cooking, and construction. There are also many technical programs in perhaps unexpected industries, like nursing, aviation, and criminal justice. Another difference between technical school vs. college is the length of education. Technical college programs tend to last two years. However, this will vary slightly depending on the program. 

technical school

This is similar to community college, which also offers two-year programs. If you go to a community college you will graduate with an Associate’s Degree. It is a two-year degree that can be a starting point for obtaining further degrees. If you go to a technical college, you will graduate with a certification for your industry. This certification is not in the same lane as degrees. It cannot always be a starting place for further education. That said, you’ll certainly leave technical school with a host of applicable skills. However, this isn’t necessarily true of community college since it offers courses in traditional subjects like math, science, literature, and history.

In this vein, community colleges are closer to regular college. While technical skills can certainly be learned at both, they are not the main objective. It’s more likely that you’ll graduate regular college knowing how to analyze Shakespeare in your sleep. This is a great skill if you intend to lead a life of academic and creative thinking and problem-solving. Regular college is a good option for those who thrive in competitive, academic settings. For those who would like to graduate from a program quickly, with the maximum amount of applicable skills, technical college is an excellent option.

Geared Towards Career

The biggest benefit of a technical school vs. college is that technical school is inherently geared towards a career. Students graduate having already had hands-on practice in their desired field. Regular college can only sometimes offer students this through internships. Technical college will likely cost less. It will also lead to more concrete work opportunities than regular college. There is the caveat that these opportunities might lack variety, given that you’ll leave technical school highly skilled in one area. 

Another benefit is that technical jobs tend to be evergreen. In other words, they are integral to society and can often withstand a recession. A plumber, for instance, is always in demand regardless of the present state of the economy. Relatedly, technical careers tend to have low rates of unemployment and higher career flexibility.

When it comes to actual classes, technical colleges cut straight to the chase. They don’t require that you take any superfluous courses that are irrelevant to your degree. Technical college programs are focused on a specific field. So, the classes tend to be very small in order to give students personalized education. This kind of attention is rarer at traditional and community colleges.

Ultimately, choosing technical school vs. college is a personal decision. If you have a gut-inclination in one particular direction, certainly follow it. Discuss it with your family and friends. If you’re unsure, that’s ok too. There’s plenty of time to figure out what you want to do. You can always switch from one route to another.

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.