What to Know Before Enrolling in a Trade School for Construction

March 15, 2022

Wondering whether to invest  in a college degree or pursue a trade school for construction?  People often relate a four-year college degree with job security and long-term savings, but it’s worth considering whether it’s worth the debt. According to a recent survey, there are 44.7 million students in the U.S. that owe a collective $1.8 trillion in student loans.

Tuition fees for trade schools are considerably lower. These programs can also be completed in a shorter amount of time. This article examines  the pros and cons of trade schools, licensing, and apprenticeship options in construction.

Benefits of Trade Schools for Construction

Trade schools or vocational schools in construction can be a lucrative choice. Let’s take a closer look at both the benefits and drawbacks the decision entails.

The Pros

  • Cost – Trade schools are much more affordable than a traditional four-year college.
  • Duration – College degrees can take anywhere from four to six years to complete, prolonging your entry into the workforce.
  • Learning opportunities – Trade schools offer opportunities in different disciplines complete with  practical training.
  • Earnings – While earnings depend on the location, project type, and work experience, trade school graduates can begin work and start collecting a paycheck much faster than traditional degree holders.
  • Job security – According to reports, the U.S. construction projects need over 2 million new construction workers in the next three years. The placement opportunities in trade schools remain the same as any other college.


Earn your degree in Construction from NEIT and begin your new career path today!




The Cons

Learning construction methodology at a trade school
  • The course is rigorous – Because these programs are so short, there may be no breaks in the schedule. The curriculum may be rigorous and demanding.
  • Funding – Since you pay considerably less for a trade school, you may experience limited funding options. If you are struggling to cover the cost of tuition, you can apply for financial aid with FAFSA.

Is a Construction Degree Even Necessary?

Is a  construction degree necessary?

Formal training in construction provides you with an understanding of key construction concepts such as building codes, safety protocols, and current building techniques.

You can also choose a major to earn additional skills specific to that area. Certain specialties can significantly increase your earning potential. For example, a construction employee with specialized training like boilermakers earn a median pay of $65,360 annually. Elevator installers can make upwards of $88,540 per year.

An education also puts you in better standing for high-paying positions such as a construction manager, project supervisor, and cost estimator. Without the proper background, a worker may spend years on the job before qualifying for these roles.

Licensing and Certifications

Some career paths in construction work require a license, certification, or registration at the local, state, or federal level. Employers may also need certifications when they hire workers for commercial and residential construction.

Some examples of construction workers who need licenses are:

  • Electricians
  • General contractors
  • HVAC technicians
  • Plumbers and pipefitters
  • Building project inspectors

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification is one of the most prominent in the construction industry. Employers can check with the agency to verify an applicant’s credentials.

You can also earn additional certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Institute of Constructors, and the Construction Management Association of America.

How To Get an Apprenticeship in Construction Management

Apprenticeship in construction management
An apprenticeship provides hands-on training, knowledge, and skills. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the construction process by shadowing a skilled professional. You can apply this experience to different jobs, including carpentry, masonry, plumbing, welding, electrician, elevator constructor mechanic, and boiler fabricator.

Individual construction companies and associations such as the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) provide internship programs through local construction partners.

The minimum requirement for an internship is a high school degree or GED. Here are the steps to landing the apprenticeship of your choice:

  • Choose the trade – Many  different options exist, from floor and wall trades, mechanical and electrical trades, and other specializations.
  • Align with the basic requirements – The basic requirements are a minimum of 18 years of age and a high school degree or GED. You will also need to present a driver’s license and pass an aptitude test at the trade union where you apply.
  • Apply for the apprenticeship programs – Research apprenticeship opportunities and apply for them.
  • Attend interviews – Start contacting the trade unions or contractors where you want to work.

You can choose between the Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) and non-registered or Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). RAPs hold both validation and recognition from the U.S. Department of Labor or a state agency. IRAPs are more flexible to meet the needs of a specific organization.

Trade School Vs. College

Trade schools vs colleges

A construction trade school offers lots of advantages over a more traditional college. Consider the points below to make an informed decision.


The fee of trade school varies. A two-year program may cost $3,500 per year in a public school and $14,000 per year in a private school. You can also get financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and subsidized loans. Meanwhile, a traditional four-year degree can cost upwards of $30,000 per year.

Course Duration

Trade schools are designed to introduce students to the workforce as fast as possible. Construction programs at a trade school take two years, whereas a bachelor’s degree takes four years.

Education/Training Curriculum

training in a trade school

The training in a trade school focuses on specialization, creating the groundwork to get you into the workforce faster. Typical curriculum in a construction trade school includes woodworking (carpentry), cost estimation training, blueprint reading, project coordination, materials, site survey, mechanical drawing, and safety protocols for building projects.

College degree programs are much more comprehensive. Instead of introducing students to specialty areas right away, they typically begin general education courses to provide a broader set of skills. Most curriculums cover the following areas:
  • Pre-fabrication
  • 3D printing
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Safety and sustainability
  • Communication skills
  • Building environment study

Salary Potential

How much construction workers make depends on experience, job type, and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawaii pays about $70,750 per year, the highest among all states.

Arkansas is among the lowest-paying states at just $39,360 per year. That said, construction managers who demonstrate the experience and skill can earn as much as $97,180 annual salary.

Are Trade Schools Accredited?

trade school student

Yes, they are. You can find over 800 accredited trade schools in the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges directory.

Construction Program Options

Ongoing construction work in a building

Construction degree programs offer an environment where architects, construction managers, and interior designers collaborate to learn building design.

The New England Institute of Technology introduces students to a number of emerging technologies such as automated construction methods, artificial intelligence, and advanced building materials. Construction training options include:

  • Associate degree program – An 18-month course for a successful career path in construction.
  • Bachelor’s degree program – After completing the associate degree, you can pursue our 180-month program to become a construction manager, project manager, urban planner, civil engineer, or structural designer.
  • Graduate degree program – Get robust and advanced industry knowledge with the 18-month graduate program.

How To Know if a Career in Construction Is Right for You

Career in construction technology

The construction industry is all about working in a physically demanding job site. You must be in good physical shape and accustomed to working long hours. Other expectations of construction workers are as follows:

  • Ability to do hands-on work – You need to be physically strong and dextrous.
  • Good listening skills – You will receive instruction in person, over email, or on the phone. Good listening skills will help ensure the job is done right.
  • Open to relocate and work flexible hours – Construction could happen anywhere, not just the city you live in. If you have the skills, the company may ask you to relocate to another location short term or even permanently.
  • Math skills – Understanding math is a basic requirement. Most construction projects involve blueprints, scales, distances, heights, and a range of other parameters with formulas.

What Are the Best Trade Schools for Construction?

Construction managers working on design

New England Institute of Technology

The New England Institute of Technology is a private university based in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. In addition to strong technical knowledge, we encourage students to develop interpersonal skills along with those necessary to become proficient in design, technology, engineering, sustainability, and building science in construction.

Arizona Automotive Institute (AAI)

Based in Glendale, Arizona, AAI offers an 18-month associate of applied sciences program in construction trades. You can expect to learn to plan and direct projects, supervise crews and examine work breakdown structure.

San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC)

SJVC, based in Ontario, California, offers a 14-month course that includes computer applications in construction management, scheduling and control, and estimating and bidding for projects. An online program is also available.

Penn Foster

Penn Foster offers online programs in construction trades, construction technology, and home remodeling and repairs. Learn design techniques, building codes, simulated hands-on practice, and interactive sessions for a career in carpentry, floor installation, or woodworking.


Individuals interested in breaking into the construction industry will enjoy a significant advantage by earning the right credentials from a trade school. The experience will demonstrate an applicant’s advanced skills and knowledge of the field.

The initiative also shows dedication, which can go a long way in the job market. Additional benefits of earning an education include higher wages, advanced roles, and additional skills.


Earn your degree in Construction from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





How Are Construction Managers Different from General Contractors?

Construction managers oversee projects from planning to completion. They fine-tune the design plans and deliver accurate cost estimates. Meanwhile, general contractors supervise the construction and oversee the daily activities at the job site. They manage all subcontractors and charge a set price for their services.

Do Construction Workers Get Insurance Coverage?

Since construction jobs are physically demanding and may cause work-related injuries, every state in the U.S. has its laws for workers’ insurance and compensation. The employer’s insurance for workers helps cover medical bills, room charges, physical rehabilitation, lost wages, settlements, and any attorney and court fees.