Vocational schools, also known as trade schools, have always been an effective way to prepare individuals to enter the workforce. Trade schools are specialized and leave their students highly skilled in the area of their choosing. The idea that traditional college is not for everyone comes into play with trade schools.
Trent Hamm, a writer for the Simple Dollar, analyzed the pros and cons of vocational schools versus four year universities. His conclusion was that, “A traditional four-year degree is not for everyone, and trade school offers a pretty compelling career path.”
Usually, these schools are two years rather than four and are a more cost effective option for the students enrolled in them. Trade schools range on a variety of different professions- one of them being STEM.
When the topic of trade schools comes up most people think that it is only an option for post-high-school students. However, there are STEM trade schools available for high schoolers with an affinity for STEM topics as well.
One option for high schoolers is in Redmond, Washington. Nikola Tesla STEM High School is a public high school that focuses on problem solving skills that will prepare students to enter the STEM workforce. Their enrollment is lottery-style and each graduating class is small, giving students a quality in-classroom experience. During a student’s time at Tesla High School they enroll in an average of six science and four math courses. In each class, engineering and technology topics are integrated into the lesson plans to give a well-rounded STEM education. One unique aspect of this STEM high school is the labs that they offer. Each student can join a lab based on their own interests, whether it be in science, technology, engineering or math.
Another STEM focused high school is located in Houston, Texas. Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professionals focuses on preparing their students to enter medical school and, eventually the medical field. The school is on the Texas Medical Center campus. Each of the students has access to the labs, research facilities and academic groups. Another special offering that is only given to DeBakey High School graduates is the opportunity to join the Houston Premedical Academy. This is an undergraduate program offered to only DeBakey Students at the University of Houston.
In 2019, High Technology High School was ranked the number one STEM high school in the United States by U.S News and World Report. This school is focused on engineering. It offers courses in civil engineering, computer manufacturing, architecture and digital electronics. Located in Lincroft, New Jersey, High Technology High School offers its students a quality education with an emphasis on STEM literacy.
High Technology High School’s mission statement reads, “High Technology High School, a pre-engineering career academy that emphasizes the interconnections among mathematics, science, technology, and the humanities, prepares students to become creative problem solvers, effective communicators, and tomorrow’s leaders through a rigorous, specialized curriculum and collaborative partnerships.”
This is just a few of the options for high school students who want to eventually end up in the STEM workforce. Throughout the United States there are high schools that specialize in science, technology, engineering and math curriculum that offer their students the chance to get ahead in their future profession.
Post high school there is a variety of STEM trade schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that, within the next 20 years, 80 percent of all available jobs will require a technical skill. On top of that, STEM jobs are rising approximately two times as fast as non-STEM jobs. Because of the high demand for these jobs, STEM trade schools are becoming more and more popular amongst young adults.
According to Community for Accredited Online Schools, “Vocational and career-oriented schools offer a specialized education for students who have specific career goals. Unlike community colleges and more general education avenues, students are able to focus solely on their career choice and receive training in the field.”
Bates Technical College is a vocational school that offers training in over 45 different careers. Their two year programs are hands-on and provide practical career training that prepare each of their students to go straight into the workforce after graduation. They offer degrees in: aerospace, business administration, construction, education, training, engineering, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, transportation, audio/visual technology and more. There are currently 7,000 students enrolled at Bates Technical College who are preparing themselves to further their careers.
Trident Technical College also offers two year degrees to their students. Trident offers a variety of different courses, and over 150 programs, for students in order to appeal to a wide array of applicants. Some of the STEM related fields they offer include: engineering, manufacturing, health, information technology and human personal service. The goal at Trident Technical College is to give students an opportunity to better their futures even if they have decided that a four year degree is not the path for them. All of the teachers are trained professionals in the field that they are teaching in order to give students the best training. They also offer clubs and groups for students to meet their possible future colleagues who share similar interests with them.
Community for Accredited Online Schools is a website that allows you to search vocational schools based on location and preferred area of study. After state, field and degree type is entered, the website directs to a page that breaks down every school that fits the profile and what it has to offer. This is a great resource for anyone who is thinking about furthering their education and wants to pursue a job in science, technology, engineering or math.
According to the Booking Institution, about half of all STEM jobs are available to people with less than a bachelor’s degree. STEM jobs are on the rise and often offer wages that are above the national average. Trade schools offer an affordable way for people of any age to obtain their STEM literacy and receive the training necessary to succeed in a STEM job.