Trade School vs. Community College

Trade School vs. Community College

You’ve decided to take your next steps in life and advance your education. What an exciting time for you!

Whether you’re fresh out of high school, eager to start your dream career, or looking to switch career paths, you have an abundance of colleges and universities at your fingertips, and it’s important to understand the difference between each option.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right school for you, and your choice will have a substantial impact on your future. If you know that a traditional, four-year college or university is not the right route for you, there are two other great options that propel many students into thriving, long-term careers.

Let’s explore trade schools and community colleges and uncover which option embodies the best learning structure for you.

What’s the Difference Between Trade Schools and Community Colleges?

Trade Schools Community Colleges
School Structure Hands-on, career-specific training Theoretical, lecture-style learning
Type of Curriculum Some general classes may be required in certain programs, but the majority of classes involve field-specific experiential labs to actively perform what’s being learned. A liberal arts education that requires general courses (English, basic math, etc.) to build a well-rounded knowledge base and broad capabilities.
Type of Degrees Offered Associate Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates Associate Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates
Average Program Length 1-2 years 2 years
Average Cost of Degree Trade school cost: varies per school

Can be a greater investment due to specialized training. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are typically offered.

Community college cost: varies per school

Can be an affordable route. Students tend to invest more in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree after graduation.

Path of Graduates Start in-demand careers Pursue bachelor’s degrees at 4-year colleges and universities


A key difference between trade schools and community colleges is trade schools provide real-world experiences and training so students learn their career field and desired position first-hand through direct, hands-on curriculum and an externship prior to graduation.Additionally, trade school career options continue to become available. Trade school students graduate in high-demand and hold onto a strong degree of job security throughout their careers. Why? According to The Simple Dollar, skilled trade workers are a predominately older generation. As these trade professionals retire, the demand for high-precision technical workers continues to grow.1 Which school aligns with your needs?Deciding which school to attend is a big decision. Each school is different and it’s imperative that your needs align with a school’s environment, offerings, and structure.Do your career aspirations fall in line with what a trade school can offer?If you’re ready to start a successful, in-demand career in two years or less, discover Ohio Business College’s top-rated career training programs in Sandusky and Sheffield Village, Ohio:

Business Programs

Health & Medical Programs


Tailored to the busy adult and aligned to the latest industry standards, our associate, diploma, and workshop programs are offered through day and evening classes and empower you to hit the ground running upon graduation.
Take your next professional steps and achieve your career goals today. Contact Ohio Business College.


1 Hamm, Trent. The Simple Dollar. “Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College.” Accessed February 28, 2017.