Trades & Careers Degree Programs: What You Need to Know

Trades and career degree programs are educational opportunities that provide students with the technical skills and knowledge to pursue a career in skilled trades.

Trades & Careers Degree Programs

Navigating through education options after high school can be a challenging undertaking. Should you pursue college or invest in internships while crafting your portfolio instead? What are the chances of being accepted into that dream college?

Additionally, finances come into play – most colleges will require you to take out loans you’ll pay back for years post-graduation – making the decision even more daunting.

Here’s where trade programs come into play. They provide an economical and expeditious route for continuing education, simultaneously increasing your chances of securing a job.

Therefore, we’ll carefully examine the nuances of trades and career degree programs, and assess their advantages and drawbacks, to help you determine if they are an appropriate educational path for you.


What are Trades & Careers Programs?

Trades and careers programs are educational programs designed to help you gain the skills you need to enter the workforce after graduation.

In contrast to a four-year university that grants an extensive education centered on the humanities and liberal arts, trade schools offer courses designed exclusively to teach technical knowledge and skills related to specific occupations such as welding or mechanical repair.

Benefits of trades and careers programs:

  • One of the major benefits of enrolling in a trade program is that it will let you explore your interests while gaining valuable skills for your future career paths.
  • You’ll have access to unique resources such as industry internships or job shadowing opportunities to help you advance in your chosen field.
  • Trade programs cost significantly less than traditional university degree programs and can be completed in a fraction of the time, with some taking as little as six months – allowing you to begin your professional life without delay.

Additionally, many trades and career programs offer flexible options such as online classes or self-paced coursework so that you can fit your studies into your busy schedules.

Disadvantages of pursuing a trade program over a university degree:

  • It is often less revered than university degrees – some employers may view trade or career program graduates more skeptically.
  • Restriction on further education options -While some students can transfer from the vocational level to postsecondary institutions, there needs to be more flexibility when selecting a new educational route following graduation.

Skills You'll Learn from Trades & Careers Degree Programs

Although each degree program has its pros and cons, what are some tangible skills you can gain from participating in a trade-based education?

Key Competencies

Taking advantage of such courses gives you exceptional hands-on experience and the chance to build invaluable skills that will make you stand out in the competitive job market.

The specific skills you’ll retain depend on the particular trade program you’ll join, but generally speaking, they include problem-solving, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. These abilities are essential in impressing employers and earning yourself an advantageous position.

Additionally, many trades programs also focus on teaching essential life skills such as:

  • Money management
  • Workplace etiquette
  • Time management
  • Team dynamics

Sharpening these skills will help you feel more at ease in various professional settings, be better at communicating effectively and networking, as well as become more aware of the latest trends and technologies within your area of expertise.

Common Outcomes

Trade and career program participants often emerge from the experience with increased self-awareness and knowledge about their talents and interests – making it easier to choose a career path once you graduate from high school or college. 

On top of that, joining this program can inspire you to further your education or get extra certificates in the field of study you selected. You could even go for an apprenticeship or internship after completing the course!

What types of Certificates, Degrees & Majors can you find in Trades & Careers?

Deciding on which major to select for college can take time and effort, as there are many options to consider. However, the advantage of seeking a career in the trades and technical industries is that you’ll have plenty of viable choices that will provide the skills needed to succeed.

Exploring these majors can lead to endless possibilities of fulfilling job opportunities – so let’s take a deeper look into their specifications!


A major in Automotive Technology provides you with the necessary knowledge and skills to diagnose and repair any vehicle problem. This major focuses on all aspects of automotive maintenance, from brakes to transmissions.

You’ll learn how to use technology to diagnose vehicle issues, as well as how to troubleshoot problems using hands-on methods. The automotive technology major also introduces safety regulations and proper procedures for working on vehicles.

Construction Management

Construction Management provides you with an understanding of construction projects from start to finish. These courses teach the basics of building design, cost estimation, scheduling, safety regulations, quality control methods, team management strategies, and more.

This major is ideal for those interested in managing construction projects or overseeing building operations such as maintenance or repairs. It is also perfect for anyone who wants to be involved in the planning phase of construction projects or to work closely with contractors or suppliers regularly.

Electrical Technician

Electrical technicians have a unique skill set that is highly sought after in today’s job market. In this major, you’ll learn how to read plans and blueprints and use measuring instruments to safely and correctly install electrical wiring and equipment.

Courses may also cover electrical theory, motors and controls, instrumentation technologies, power distribution systems, industrial automation systems, and more.

Fire Science

Fire Science is excellent for students interested in entering the firefighting industry. It covers topics such as fire prevention and suppression, hazardous materials operations, emergency medical services, and other related areas of study.

You will learn about building codes, safety regulations, and how to use firefighting equipment and techniques. You will also have the chance to gain hands-on experience through internships and practicums with local fire departments.

Forestry Major

A forestry major can open up opportunities for those interested in a career focused on natural resources management. Their courses will equip you with the tools to work in industries such as conservation, recreation development, timber management, wildlife habitat management, and more.

The curriculum covers ecology, forest biology and pathology, soils and hydrology, forestry economics, law enforcement practices, etc. Additionally, you may participate in research projects that apply your classroom learnings to the real world outside school walls.

Environmental Science

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the relationship between humans and their natural environment. It involves studying ecological issues such as global warming, air pollution, water contamination, and biodiversity loss.

It also includes topics like conservation biology and sustainability science which deals with finding ways to use natural resources responsibly while preserving them for future generations. Environmental scientists work in research labs or policy-making organizations to develop solutions that protect our planet’s fragile ecosystems.

Will you receive a Degree after completing a Trade Program?

Unlike a four-year college, you don’t graduate with an undergraduate degree from a trade school. Usually, upon completion of the program, you’ll earn either a diploma or certificate acknowledging your success in completing the coursework.

In specific programs, you may even qualify for an associate degree.

What does the course curriculum look like in Trades & Careers Degree Programs?

After selecting a program or major, it is imperative to have a general understanding of the courses being offered. To assist you in this process, we will dive into some examples of courses available in trade and career programs.

We’ll offer insight into course descriptions so that you know what each lesson delivers.

Automotive Systems/Minor Service Course

In this course, you will become familiar with the operations of an entry-level technician. Safety protocols and proper utilization of shop equipment, hand tools, and service information are all components that will be heavily explored.

Additionally, you’ll gain experience working alongside measuring devices such as micrometers, calipers, and dial indicators to help.

Construction Management Fundamentals Course

This introductory course offers in-depth knowledge of construction materials, methods, and contracts. Furthermore, you will acquire fundamental skills – such as quantity estimating, plan reading, and project documentation – by completing hands-on laboratory experiences related to the layout of basic commercial, residential, heavy/civil, and industrial projects.

Practical Electricity Course

This course is designed to help students understand the basics of electricity, including terminology, symbols, diagrams, and principles.

It covers general practices that ensure safety regarding wiring and electrical installation for residential and non-residential properties and introduces essential concepts regarding motors and controls.

Introduction to Fire and Emergency Services Course

This course is your first step into the world of fire and emergency services, giving you an overview of the fundamentals of both management programs and pertinent skill sets. You will explore essential background knowledge on modern fire service along with research strategies that are critical for long-term success in this dynamic field.

You will be immersed in a supportive academic atmosphere while learning to excel and achieve excellence within the fire and emergency services profession.

Natural Resources Field Methods Course

Completing this course equips students with all the skills required to navigate unfamiliar terrain, including pacing, using maps and compasses, or a GPS. The syllabus also covers planar surveying, cartography, and forest sampling to determine the abundance and quality of resources.

You will gain practical experience and be educated on the fundamental principles of navigation, surveyor work, and field sampling.

Trades & Careers Degree Programs: Career Outlook, Salary Potential & Positions

Participating in programs such as this has a plethora of advantages that can help set individuals up for success in their professional lives. Through these initiatives, many people have found that they may be eligible to receive higher salaries than others within their field, which is beneficial when looking to secure a job.

What’s more, getting the opportunity to gain experience and hone your expertise in a particular field will make you even more desirable in the job market.

These factors combine to create an optimistic outlook for future job prospects.

Career Outlook

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that employment in construction and related industries is projected to increase by 4% between 2021 and 2031.

With this growth, construction, and extraction occupations are expected to add approximately 252,900 jobs over the next decade! 

Not only is this projected increase close to above average for all other professions, but there will also be numerous opportunities due to replacing workers who leave their current positions.

These numbers indicate the potential for increased job prospects in the future for those who have completed trades and career programs.

Regarding installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, a stable growth of 5% is projected from 2021 to 2031 – slightly faster than the average across all job sectors. This equates to an estimated 304,000 new jobs being created over the decade!

Furthermore, these roles are often highly sought-after due to a significant number of vacancies becoming available when experienced workers decide it’s time to move on.

Salary Potential

According to the BLS, in May 2021, the median annual wage for Construction and Extraction Occupations was higher than all occupations at $48,210.

Similarly, Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations had a median wage of $47,940, surpassing the general occupation median of $45760.

Those who specialize in specific areas may also command higher wages depending on their level of experience and expertise.

Top Jobs you can get with a Trades Degree:


Licensed electricians specialize in installing, upkeep, and troubleshooting electrical power systems, communications networks, lighting components, and control systems for residential homes and commercial establishments.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$60,040 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Firefighting is a dangerous yet heroic profession requiring firefighters to connect hoses to hydrants, and power the pumping of hose water, scale ladders, and other tools to break through debris.

In addition, they must often enter burning buildings to extinguish fires, rescue any individuals inside, and provide necessary medical care.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$50,700 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

High School Diploma

Forest and Conservation Workers

Under the guidance of forest and conservation technicians, Forest and Conservation workers play an important role in maintaining healthy forests by measuring their quality to determine areas that need improvement.

They are responsible for conserving and protecting our natural resources so future generations can continue to enjoy them.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$30,550 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

High School Diploma

Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers, also referred to as elevator or escalator constructors or mechanics, assemble, maintain, replace, and install elevators, chairlifts, moving walkways, and similar equipment.

They ensure these devices function well so people can move safely between building floors.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$97,860 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

High School Diploma

Line Installers and Repairers

Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, are indispensable experts in setting up and restoring electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including cutting-edge fiber optics technology.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$74,530 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

High School Diploma

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics often referred to as ‘service techs,’ are responsible for diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining cars and light trucks.

They play a critical role in keeping vehicles running smoothly on our roads!

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$46,880 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

Postsecondary Award

Wind Turbine Technicians

Wind techs, or wind turbine service technicians, are responsible for installing and repairing wind turbines nationwide. Through 24/7 electronic monitoring from a central office, any glitches in the system can be quickly detected and fixed.

Maintenance duties involve inspecting essential components of the device as well as lubricating certain parts regularly.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$56,260 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

Postsecondary Award

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics – often referred to as HVACR technicians – are in charge of maintaining the temperature and air quality inside buildings by working on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$48,630 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level

Postsecondary Award

*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.

Popular colleges with Trades & Careers Degree Programs

Many colleges and universities cater to those interested in pursuing a career-focused trade or profession in the United States.

These institutions offer students a wide range of specialized academic programs that can help to prepare them for a successful career in their chosen field. Some of the top ones include:

Highlands College of Montana Tech

Located in Butte, Montana, Highlands College of Montana Tech offers hands-on training in fields such as welding, diesel technology, and heavy equipment operation. The school has a high job placement rate, and graduates are in demand by local employers.

Columbia Southern University

Based in Orange Beach, Alabama, Columbia Southern University is an online institution offering vocational training programs in occupational safety and health, fire science, and criminal justice. The school is known for its flexible scheduling and affordable tuition.

Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics offers training programs in aviation maintenance, aviation electronics, and welding. The school has a strong reputation for producing highly skilled graduates who are in demand in the aviation industry.

Northwood Technical College

Located in Wisconsin, Northwood Technical College offers vocational training programs in agriculture, automotive technology, and construction. The school strongly focuses on hands-on training and offers state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

State Technical College of Missouri

Based in Linn, Missouri, the State Technical College of Missouri offers vocational training programs in fields such as welding, HVAC technology, and automotive technology. The school has a high job placement rate, and graduates are in demand by local employers.

What you need to know about Accreditation

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation ensures students obtain a quality education in their desired field of study. Rather than reviewing the institution as a whole, programmatic organizations evaluate individual programs or offerings to guarantee they align with established standards and provide an adequate level of instruction within the specialty area.

*Our website proudly displays a reputable list of colleges and universities, all accredited by either renowned regional associations or highly respected national agencies that have been acknowledged by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Featured Colleges

FAQ about Trades & Careers Degree Programs

You can finish trade school programs in 12 months or less, a much quicker timeline than the traditional college experience. Nevertheless, obtaining an associate degree may take up to two years but will open more career opportunities for you.

Technical schools provide an exciting prospect for those aspiring to obtain higher education. Not only do they offer traditional college coursework, but they also incorporate hands-on training into the curriculum.

The primary focus of trade school programs is practical instruction rather than theoretical study. It can typically be completed within a year or less – more briefer than a four-year degree!

Electricians and HVAC technicians have to learn complicated technical skills. Electrician schools provide the perfect setting for students to learn how to set up, preserve, and mend electrical systems.

The curriculum combines mathematics with studying state electric codes and examining diagrams and blueprints to guarantee safety at all times.

Yes, some organizations offer scholarships to help students with the cost of tuition.

Employers or other organizations may offer scholarships to provide educational opportunities for those seeking to enter a specific trade or career field.

In most cases, yes. Most trades and career programs allow students to attend classes during evenings or weekends, making it much easier to work full-time while still maintaining their studies.

Additionally, distance learning options make achieving this balance between studying and working life easier.

It depends on the type of trade you wish to pursue; however, in general, you should expect that having strong organizational skills, an ability to work well in teams, a commitment to meeting deadlines, and an ability to follow instructions are all crucial for success.

Employers from all industries hire those that have completed a trades and career program. Many employers prefer those with experience in their field; however, many others look for individuals with the right mix of technical and interpersonal skills.

Therefore, completing a trades and career program can help you stand out from other applicants who still need to complete such programs.


Trades and Careers Programs provide a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience in your desired fields and gain the skills to become competitive job candidates upon graduation. With the right program, you can develop your expertise while gaining job security after completion.

If you are seeking an educational journey that fuses academic instruction with applied practice, then why not sign up for one of these courses today and reap the rewards!

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