Trade schools are becoming an increasingly popular option as more students realize the earning potential of vocational degrees. These career-focused programs can be completed in roughly half the time of a bachelor’s program, and graduates often earn a comparable or even higher salary than they would with a four-year degree. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the different types of trade and career degrees available as well as the jobs and salaries associated with these various credentials.
Trade and Career Degrees in Health Sciences
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the most popular field for trade and career students is the field of health sciences. The center’s research found that 36% of students pursuing a vocational degree are studying for a career in healthcare.
Types of Trade/Career Degree Programs in the Health Sciences
There are dozens of different types of trade and career degrees available in the vast field of health sciences. The ideal one for you will depend on your specific interests and career goals. Below are some examples for your reference:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Health Sciences
- AS in Health Services
- AS in Health Information Technology
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Health Care Management
- AAS in Health Sciences
- AAS in Health Information Management
- AAS in Radiologic Technology
- AAS in Emergency Medical Services
- AAS in Medical Office Management
- AAS in Health Care Management
- AAS in Clinical Medical Assisting
- Associate in Cardiovascular Technology
- Associate in Medical Diagnostics
- Associate in Sonographic Technologies
- Associate in Respiratory Therapy
Health Sciences Career and Trade Degrees: Curriculum
Trade and career degrees in the health sciences are available from community colleges and vocational schools, and increasingly, some programs are offered online as well. These plans of study usually take between one and two years to complete and provide students with foundational skills and knowledge in the healthcare field. Courses will vary depending on the specific type of degree you choose as well as the school you attend. To give you a general idea, though, we’ve listed some sample classes below.
Sample Course Titles for Health Sciences Trade/Career Degrees
- Biology for Health Sciences Majors
- Community and Public Health
- Infectious Diseases
- Ethics in the Health Professions
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare in the United States
Career and Trade Degrees in Health Sciences: Jobs and Salaries
A trade degree in the health sciences can significantly increase one’s earning potential in the field of healthcare. Your specific wage will depend on a number of factors, however, the most important being the specific position you take on. Here are some examples of careers in the field available for those with a health sciences trade and career degree alongside their mean annual wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Dental Assistants: $37,630
- Dental Hygienists: $74,070
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: $71,410
- Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians: $55,270
- EMTs and Paramedics: $33,380
- Massage Therapists: $39,980
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: $51,770
- Medical Assistants: $32,480
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: $39,180
- Medical Transcriptionists: $35,250
- Nuclear Medicine Technologists: $75,660
- Occupational Health and Safety Technicians: $49,960
- Health Technologists and Technicians: $43,590
- Physical Therapists Assistants: $57,430
- Radiation Therapists: $80,570
- Radiologic and MRI Technologists: $60,070
- Respiratory Therapists: $59,710
- Veterinary Technologists and Technicians: $33,400
Trade and Career Degrees in Business and Marketing
Another very popular choice for students attending a vocational school is a trade/career degree in the field of business and marketing. The NCES reports that nearly 20% of students pursuing an occupational degree plan on working in the business arena upon graduation. These programs introduce students to basic skills in business and marketing and prepare them to fill entry-level roles in the field.
Types of Career and Trade Degrees in Business and Marketing
There are many different kinds of business and marketing trade degrees available, depending on the specific niche you want to work in after you graduate. Below are some examples of the various types of business and marketing degrees one can earn from a trade school .
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Business Administration
- AAS in Business Information Systems
- AAS in Business Management
- AAS in Fashion Merchandising
- AAS in Information System Management
- AAS in Hospitality Management
- AAS in Office Administration
- AAS in International Business
- Associate in Management Information Systems
- Associate in Logistics
- Associate in Accounting
- Associate in Administrative Assisting
- Associate in Applied Management
- AAS in Fashion Marketing
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Economics
- AA in Marketing
- Associate in Human Resource Management
- Associate of Science (AS) in Global Business
- AAS in E-Commerce
- AA in Acquisition and Contract Management
- Associate of Business Administration (ABA)
- Associate of Business Science (ABS) in Interior Design
Trade/Career Degrees in Business and Marketing: Curriculum
Trade and career degrees in business and marketing arm students with the professional skills and foundational business knowledge they need to break into the corporate world. Traditionally, these programs take around two years to complete, but accelerated tracks are often available. The curriculum for these programs will vary depending on the type of degree being pursued as well as the school attended. Some examples of course titles for this type of career and trade degree are listed below for the purpose of illustration.
Sample Course Titles for Trade and Career Degrees in Business and Marketing
- Introduction to Marketing
- Business Law
- Managerial Accounting
- Human Relations in Administration
- Business Communication
- Business Ethics
- Introduction to Accounting
Career/Trade Degrees in Business and Marketing: Jobs and Salaries
Graduates of trade degrees in business and marketing are poised to earn handsome wages, even as entry-level professionals. Payscale.com reports that individuals with an associate degree in business earn approximately $52,000 a year on average. Different jobs in the field are associated with varying salaries, though. Below are some examples from Payscale.com:
- Administrative Assistant: $38,480
- Office Manager: $45,442
- Executive Assistant: $53,392
- Retail Store Manager: $47,293
- Operations Manager: $58,560
- Human Resources Manager: $58,796
- General Manager (Restaurant): $44,727
- Accounting Manager: $57,323
- Human Resources Director: $71,300
- Production Supervisor: $58,098
- Property Manager: $47,224
- Accountant: $46,169
- Financial Controller: $63,498
- Customer Service Manager: $56,550
- Bookkeeper: $41,703
- Executive Assistant to CEO: $64,157
- Logistics Manager: $54,812
- Marketing Manager: $55,336
Trade/Career Degrees in Architecture and Engineering
Another common category for trade and career degrees is the field of architecture and engineering. According to the NCES, this is the fifth most common area of study for vocational students. Students with natural proficiencies in science and mathematics may find this field of study particularly appealing.
Types of Career and Trade Degrees in Architecture and Engineering
As you might expect, there are dozens of different trade and career degrees in architecture and engineering, depending on the sub-field you’re interested in. Here are some examples:
- Associate in Engineering Technology
- Associate in Industrial Engineering
- Associate in Auto CAD Drafting
- Associate in Biomedical Equipment Technology
- Associate in Aviation Electronics Technology
- Associate in Electronics Engineering Technology
- Associate of Civil Engineering Technology
- Associate in Drafting Technology
- Associate of Mechanical Engineering
- Associate of Robotics
- Associate in Telecommunications Technology
- Associate in Architectural Design
- Associate in Computer Engineering
Career/Trade Degrees in Architecture and Engineering: Curriculum
Though the curriculum for trade and career degrees in architecture and engineering will vary depending on the specific type of degree in question, there is some overlap. Generally, these plans of study will include foundational classes in science and mathematics as well as introductory to courses in engineering and architecture such as programming, graphics, and technical drawing, for instance. Below, you will find some sample course titles for reference.
Sample Course Titles for Architecture and Engineering Trade and Career Degrees
- Introduction to Technical Drawings
- Precision Machining Operations
- Engineering Graphic Communications
- Advanced 3-D Modeling
- C++ Programming
- General Physics
- Linear Algebra
- Ordinary Differential Equations
- Vector Calculus
Trade and Career Degrees in Architecture and Engineering: Jobs and Salaries
Trade and career degrees in architecture and engineering tend to be very lucrative. Below is a list of occupations in the field associated with vocational degrees along with their mean annual wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians: $67,240
- Civil Engineering Technicians: $51,620
- Drafters: $54,170
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians: $63,660
- Electro-mechanical Technicians: $56,740
- Environmental Engineering Technicians: $50,230
- Industrial Engineering Technicians: $54,280
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians: $55,360
Career and Trade Degrees in Computer and Information Technology
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in computer and information technology are growing faster than average, so it should come as no surprise that the field is a popular one for students interested in a trade/career degree. It’s estimated that over half a million new jobs in computer and information technology will become available in the decade between 2016 and 2026. Many of these jobs require only a trade degree.
Types of Career/Trade Degree Programs in Computer and Information Technology
Because the field of computer and information technology is so vast, there are numerous types of trade and career degree programs to choose from. Some of these options are listed below.
- Associate of Arts (AA) in Computer Information Systems
- Associate of Science (AS) in Information Technology Security
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer Applications
- AAS in Computer Game Design
- AAS in Computer Programming
- AAS in Computer Web Development
- AAS in Computer Wireless Networking
- AAS in Network System Security
- AAS in Network Administration
- AAS in Information Technology
- Associate of Business Administration (ABA): Computer Programming
Computer and Information Technology Trade/Career Degree Programs: Curriculum
Like other types of trade and career degrees, vocational plans of study in computer and information technology are typically two year-programs. Though coursework will vary depending on the specific type of degree you pursue, it’s safe to say you’ll take both foundational courses in math and science as well as introductory classes in various computer and information technology concepts. Some sample course titles are listed below for reference.
Sample Course Titles for Career and Trade Degrees in Computer and Information Technology
- Project Management in Information Technology
- Computer Platform Technologies
- Software Development Concepts
- Foundations of Technical Communications
- Website Development and Design
- Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design
- Networking and Telecommunications
Trade and Career Degrees in Computer and Information Technology: Jobs and Salaries
Salaries associated with trade and career degrees in computer and information technology tend to be on the higher end of what one might expect to make with a vocational degree. Of course, your exact salary will depend on the specific type of trade and career degree you hold as well as your specific job title and employer. The following list of jobs and their respective annual wages are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is provided for the sake of example only.
- Computer Network Support Specialists: $62,340
- Computer Support Specialists: $52,810
- Computer User Support Specialists: $50,210
- Web Developers: $67,990
Frequently-Asked Questions About Trade and Career Degrees
Q: What other types of trade and career degrees are available?
A: Trade and career degrees are available in a wide variety of fields, including education, protective services, consumer services, manufacturing, construction, communications, design, agriculture, social services, and more.
Q: Can I complete a trade and career degree online?
A: Yes. More and more career and trade schools are being offered via distance education. Some of these programs are offered entirely online while others are available via a hybrid format. In many cases, you will receive the same diploma as on-campus students.
Q: How long does it take to complete a trade and career degree?
A: It takes approximately two years on average to earn a trade and career degree. Scheduling options are available to reduce this time or to expand it based on students’ individual needs, however.
Q: Can I work while earning a trade/career degree?
A: Yes. Some trade and career degree programs are specifically designed for the working professional, often featuring night, weekend, and/or online classes to accommodate a busy schedule.
Q: Do I need a professional certificate in addition to a trade/career degree?
A: It depends on your specific job and employer. In cases where you do need some type of certification, your vocational program will likely prepare you for your exam. Check with your school and any potential employers for details.
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