What is a Technical College?

A technical college, sometimes called a vocational school, is an alternative to a traditional college. Most colleges require that students commit to spending at least four years working on a bachelor’s degree and ask that those students take a wide range of courses both in and out of their majors. Technical schools offer more industry specific knowledge and help students prepare for working in medical, trade and technical fields right after graduation. A great way to find out more about these schools is with a comparison or technical schools to traditional colleges.

Completing a Program

Full time students are those who take a minimum of 12 credit hours of classes in a semester. As a full time student attending a traditional college, you can expect to earn your bachelor’s degree in four years. Taking classes during the summer semesters can help you graduate in around three years. Vocational and technical schools offer associate’s degrees and training programs that you can finish in just two years as a full time student. Some of the training programs available are much shorter in length and let you finish off your training in six months to a year.

Specific Industry Knowledge

Before you can graduate from a traditional college, you will need to take all the required courses for your major and the general education courses required by the state or the college itself. Freshmen often take just a few introductory or lower level courses within their majors and spend more time taking gen ed courses like biology, college algebra or English composition. When you attend a technical school, you’ll take courses relating to your major or field of study. Though you may still need to take a few writing or research classes, most of those courses you take will be within your major.

Total Cost

A common reason why so many students choose a technical college over a traditional college is because they cannot afford the cost of attending college. A private college can charge a tuition rate as high as $25,000 or $30,000 a year or even more, which does not include the cost of living on campus. Technical schools charge half as much or even less. According to Trent Hamm, students enrolled in vocational and similar schools take out fewer loans and owe less when they graduate because the cost of their education is so low. Many of these schools do not have dorms on campus but do offer libraries, cafeterias and other amenities.

Type of Classes

One of the biggest differences between a traditional college and a technical school is the type of classes available. Technical schools better prepare students for working in entry level jobs within fields like medicine or automotive repair. In an auto tech program, you’ll have the chance to work on vehicles in schools and gain some experience working in local shops too. Though you won’t have the chance to take courses like psychology, history or sociology like you would at a traditional college, you will have the chance to take a number of courses that relate to your career goals.

Though many students assume that they will either go right to work or go to a traditional college after graduating from high school, there are other options out there. A technical college, which helps you prepare for an entry level job, is one suitable alternative.

See also: What are the Different Types of Technology Degrees?