The short answer is YES, you can learn a trade online and many people do it these days.
However, different students may have different reasons to choose one type of education over another. Here, we will share pros and cons that will hopefully help you make an informed decision regarding attending a trade school.
1. The inexpensive cost
While most serious online trade school programs are not free, the cost is typically less than attending an in-person trade school or a 4-year college. Online programs exist to benefit different students’ needs, making online trade schools a great option for people with a restrictive schedule, transportation obstacles or those seeking out a specific trade school program that is not located nearby.
Free online trade schools will always be a good option for people who do not want to financially invest in their education; however, the fact that there is no live teacher engagement in may of these courses has demonstrated to be a challenge to successful completion.
2. Less time-consuming
Similar to attending a program at a trade school, learning a trade online typically takes a year or two, and there are even some programs and certificates that take less than a year. Most online trade school programs allow you to access the same support services that in-class students do, like online tutoring, financial aid help, and career placement.
3. No commutes
Many colleges and universities offer some of their programs and classes online. This type of education is valuable and beneficial for students who work, but also for students who cannot physically attend classes.
Also, if you are interested in a particular trade school and have your heart set on a program that is far away, consider looking into online learning options at that school.
4. More managable school-life balance
Not everybody can afford to go to school out of pocket, and it’s understandable that prioritizing a job or family commitments can be reasons to not attend classes in a traditional manner.
Learning a trade online can be the solution to your tight schedule or to study at your own pace. So if you have a job, you can complete school classes at a time that is convenient for you.
At the same time, if you know that your future trade requires hands-on experience, you can find the right online program that offers both lectures and practice.
For example, if you’re interested in attending an online trade school for any electrician program, but you’re also interested in hands-on experience, you can select an online program that integrates field work with your studies.
CONS… or things to keep in mind before you join
Studying a program at an online trade school has its benefits, as described above. However, it also requires an effort from you just like if you were going to meet your instructor in a classroom.
This means that to make it worth it, there are some aspects you should consider before starting an online trade school program.
1. You’ll need good management skills
Plan ahead what days and times you’ll commit to the hours of your online trade school program. This way you can focus and learn the material at a comfortable pace. When learning at a self-pace, it can be easy to skip studying hours thinking you can replace the hours later but more often than not, this doesn’t occur.
Having a designated space at home or finding a library near you where you can focus while learning can be helpful to make sure you log in the hours needed to complete the course.
2. You’ll need easy access to a computer and a good internet connection
It might be obvious, but in case you have not thought of it, having access to a computer or a laptop is essential for you to be able to complete your online courses.
If you do not have access to a computer, you can reach out to your closest library to find out if you can use their computers to study.
If you’re in a position to buy a laptop, it’d be a good idea to invest in one – having your own laptop will help you have more freedom when deciding when and where to log into your online classes.
You’ll be able to attend your online classes through an Online Learning Management System. Just like accessing any of your social media accounts, if you have any, you’ll be asked to log into your online trade school content management system to access your course materials.
If you’re new to using this type of system, your online trade school can provide resources to assist you.
3. At some point, you might need to do practical training
If the program you’ve chosen at your online trade school requires hands-on training, you’ll likely be matched with local employers near your location to get the experience you need to succeed in your trade. Likewise, some online programs might require that you are available for exams or hands-on training at some point of the course of study – but do not worry, you will be able to learn about these requirements before choosing your program.
I Want to Attend an Online Trade School… Now What Do I Do?
You can find different online vocational certificate programs with a quick Google Search. You can also talk to an advisor from the online trade school you’re interested in attending to learn about what programs are available for you.
After you’ve found a program at an online trade school that you like, find out if the trade school is accredited and licensed to make sure your hours of study will be recognized when looking for a job and/or if you plan to transfer to a 4-year school.
Another important step is to look at the admission requirements – some online trade schools will ask for a high school diploma, and others might ask for SAT/ACT scores. Having this information will help you be more prepared to apply to your desired program.
Learning a trade online will give you the education and training you need to enter a job market with a high demand for skilled individuals in various trades.
Just make sure to look at the curriculum of the program you want to study at the online trade school of your choice to make sure it offers the training and education you need in the trade you’d like to specialize in.