How to Pay for Trade School

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Finding out how to pay for trade school is not much different from a traditional university.  People that have a great work ethic, can understand traditional work methods and methods using new computerized technology are in great demand. This means a lot of funding is being funneled into the trades from both public and private sources and finding money for trade school is possible.

Finding the Right Trade School

What school is right for you?  There are a lot of different schools out there that vary in cost and quality of education.  If you compare a welding program at your local community college to a welding program at a national chain school you might find a difference of over $20,000 dollars, but cost is not the only factor you should consider when choosing your trade school.

  • Talk to industry professionals.  People that are currently working in the industry of your choice will have seen the products of different educational programs and can give you insight on what programs are best.  They can also tell you where they got their start and what is required to get started in the industry.
  • Talk to trade associations.  Every trade has a trade association, welding has the American Welding Society, electrical contractors have the National Electrical Contractors Association, etc.  Trade associations can give you insight into educational programs and hook you up with industry professionals that can help guide you.
  • Google it.  Look for things like graduation rates, ratings and reviews.

This is your education, be sure to do your due diligence in researching the right school for you.

Talk to Your Financial Aid Counselor

Your first step in determining how to pay for trade school is to talk to the financial aid counselor at your school of choice. The financial aid counselor will help you fill out your Free Application For Student Aide (FAFSA) forms and explain all the costs associated with attending school.   There are also many private endowments that come from former graduates, and the counselor at your school will know all about these opportunities. They will help you figure out what you are eligible for and how to apply.

Filling out a FAFSA form will make you eligible for all federal grant programs as well as federal loan programs.  Along with federal grants, each state has at least one program to provide grants to students from their states.  The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators is a great resource, just click on your state to find out what is available.

Scholarships For Trade Schools

Brand Scholarships

Scholarships for trade schools are more abundant than most people think.  Big name companies in this country have a problem, lots of jobs and no one qualified to fill them.  In response to this problem, many brands have started giving out scholarships.  The best thing about these scholarships is they give you an immediate leg up in the industry.  Brands like Grainger, Catterpillar and Honeywell all give out millions of dollars in scholarship money each year.  If you are awarded one of their scholarships, the brand is more likely to hire you in the future.  Some companies like Ford, John Deere and CSX  prefer to give scholarship money through national high school organizations like the FFA.  The point is, big brands in your industry are interested in helping you get the skills you need to be successful in your industry.

If there is a brand you are interested in working for, a quick google search will tell you if they are giving out scholarship money and how to apply for them.  K&N air filters, Fluke meter company, Toyota, Lincoln Electric, all have some type of scholarship program available.  I think you will have a harder time finding a large company that doesn’t give out scholarship money than one that does.

Private Scholarships

Private Scholarships can come from any private or non profit organization, and guess what, there are a lot of those to. 

  • Build Your Future is a non profit organization that helps people get their start in the construction trades.  They have scholarships, and they are a great resource for finding out about career options in any of the construction trades.
  • Mike Rowe’s Work Ethic scholarship gave out over $800,000 to trade school students last year, and they would love to top that for next year.
  • Trade associations like the American Welding Society, The Collision Repair Education Foundation and The National Concrete Masonry Assocation  all give scholarships to students interested in learning their trade.
  • National high school organizations like FFA and 4-H award scholarships to their members at the local and national level.  Many times these scholarships are sponsored by a large company and this can give you a leg up if you are interested in working for that company. If you are a member of any high school organization, be sure to check with your leaders about scholarship opportunities.

Scholarship opportunities are out there.  Talk to trade associations, Google your favorite company or talk to people in your trade.  A little research can go a long way to finding the money you need to go to school, and giving you better employment opportunities once you are out.

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Apprenticeships and Work Study programs.

An apprenticeship is a great way to hands on experience, get experience towards your licencing requirements and make a little money at the same time.  Apprenticeship programs are usually offered by the union associated with your trade.  The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers offers apprenticeship programs to people interested in working in the electrical industry.  The United Association Union  of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs was one of the first to offer an apprenticeship program and they have done a great job working with company management to create a successful program.

Most large companies have some type of continuing education plan for it’s employees.  It may be a traditional work study program that allows you extra time off to complete your studies while partnering you with people in the types of jobs you are interested in, or it may be an offer to cover a certain amount of tuition each year.  Either way, you are earning money and continuing your education.

Student Loans

After completing the FAFSA application, you will receive a “Financial Award” letter, but it is likely that this award will include some student loans.  Student loans must be paid back, and are usually not subject to things like bankruptcy.  Remember that a loan is a product that is being sold to you, it is not free money.  You will have to pay interest on the money you borrow and there are different stipulations on each loan regarding repayment, interest and hardship.  Make sure you fully understand the loan process and the loan that you are accepting before you sign anything.

Trade School is Possible

Trade school is a possibility for anyone who is interested in attending.  Talk to the financial aide counselor of the school you are interested in attending. They will walk you through the FAFSA application and help you apply for any school sponsored scholarships that are you are eligible for.  Talk to trade associations, Google your favorite company and check with the union associated with your trade.    If you still find yourself short of cash, student loans may be available to you or you may qualify for an apprenticeship or work study program.

Today this country has a big skilled trades gap.  Companies need skilled workers and they are willing to help people interested in working for them acquire those skills.

Launching a career as a telecommunications technician

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What is a Telecommunications Technician?

Many have heard of the telecommunications industry, but what does a telecommunications technician do for a living?  A telecommunications technician can wear many different hats.  This type of person works on construction sites pulling cable for data drops, mounts cameras, and installs access control for card readers.  Others in this field work from cellular phone towers or route and terminate fiber optics cabling.  Some may work for local phone, internet, and cable television providers, showing up at your home for installations throughout the day.

Telecommunications technician training

Training opportunities in the telecommunications industry are widely available for those who know where to look.  Both union and nonunion electrical contractors offer a combination of excellent on-the-job training and instructional classroom education for new employees looking for a career in the trades.  Apprenticeships through local area contractors typically range from three to five years depending on the diversity of training before earning the journeyman title.  Technicians who have success working in the field will eventually find themselves in supervisory and management positions, thus providing numerous chances to further their career.

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Find a local contractor

There’s a multitude of places to look for employment within the telecommunications industry.  A person doesn’t have to have years of experience to land a job in this field.  The first place a job seeker can visit is their local electrical contractor.  These contractors are in the business of building homes, offices, and high-rises for their clients and are often looking for entry level help.  An easy way of locating these contractors is by calling your union hall, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and asking for a list of electrical contractors in your area.

Network to learn more

You can also talk with other professionals working within the telecommunications industry via online forums, social media websites and live chat rooms.  Often there’s no better advice about where to find a job in a particular industry than the advice given from a journeyman technician.  Getting to know people currently working in the career you’re pursuing will always be of value to you.  Also, there’s a wealth of information standing behind a Google query.  Be curious and look around online. You will be surprised what you can find.

The telecommunications industry is an excellent field for trade workers who value the ever-changing landscapes of computers and technology.

Working with Trade Schools in Construction

Being able to find qualified talent in the local workforce is what every small business in the trade’s industry wishes they could do more easily. As the talent pool of workers seems to be gradually drying up in the New Hampshire area, contractors, plumbers, and electricians (to name just a few) are finding themselves in new territory. Not only are these businesses and tradesmen bidding for jobs and competing for contracts, but they are now also in fierce competition over attracting top candidates to join their companies.

With the housing market continuing to recover and homeowners throughout the region looking to update their homes, businesses are doing all they can to keep up with the demand whilst struggling to fill in the ranks of their company.

The Next Generation of the Construction Industry

Instead of passing the storm complacently and waiting for the labor shortage issue to correct itself, there are steps towards improvement to be taken, one big stride being to reach out to the younger generation within the community.

This presents a two-way street, each direction holding equal importance. Keeping the youth interested in the trades; and likewise, keeping the trades industry interested in being more hands-on in developing the youth into a viable workforce.

And so what’s the best way to reach out to the younger generation and introduce them to the trade industry within their community?

Some NH Vocational Schools for Construction

There are a number of vocational high schools throughout New Hampshire, offering courses from heavy duty mechanics to the building trades, and from basic woodworking to electrical engineering. These public schools have been providing such courses for years now, and with current circumstances being as they are, it’s time local businesses start taking more interest.

In southern New Hampshire, both Alvirne High School and Pinkerton Academy have exceptional vocational centers, and for students in the greater Manchester area there is the Manchester School of Technology, to name just a few.

Getting Involved with Local Schools

So where to start? Perhaps with a little research and outreach.

Not every vocational school offers the same courses. Finding out the specifics of each school can be done via their websites. Or take it one step further by reaching out to their respective directors and teachers. Inquire about the number of students they have enrolled in their courses, what challenges they face in developing their programs or students, and are they in need of any resources. Are they in need of tools or equipment? Do they follow industry trends?

Perhaps it’s also a good idea to inquire about being a guest speaker of sorts, introducing the latest technology used in the field or presenting them with case studies and asking for input from the students on how to address a real life issue. It would also be a good idea to reach out to other local businesses in the area and get them involved, providing the students with a variety of resources and options.

The overall goal with reaching out to local vocational schools and students should be to peak their interest, keep them motivated, and assure them there are plenty of exceptional, well-paying, challenging jobs waiting for the right candidates to emerge and take them. In an industry which is struggling to find qualified candidates, reaching out and taking the initiative is a much needed step in the right direction.

 

Makerspaces and the New Journeyman

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The world of fabrication has changed dramatically since the days of old. Technology and more approachable software systems are part of it, but what’s truly moving things forward is the method of training.

While traditional journeyman programs and on-the-job training are still around, those methods of education have often become what unpaid internships are to the white-collar workplace. Some of the challenges that companies have experienced hiring qualified candidates can also be attributed to this.

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Vocational and tech schools have grown and helped to change the landscape, but the growing popularity of community makerspaces are helping as well.

Makerspaces are intended to provide access to expensive or complicated tools and software – like CNC machines or 3D printers – for those who can’t afford or don’t have the space for such equipment. As more of these spaces have popped up, they began to compete with each other, precipitating a need for added value. So, the spaces started to expand to beginners and provide classes and on-site knowhow.

For obvious reasons, this has driven a need for makerspaces to train their employees and/or members in an array of fabrication techniques, often even paying for members to be professionally trained at a tech college (sound familiar?).

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This is ushering in a new era of training and journeyman-style education.

This new style of training is also set apart because it almost forces a diversified experience. Makerspaces are full of several different kinds of equipment, which can often be in various states of disarray. Working with fabrication machinery in these sorts of conditions can be incredibly frustrating in a workplace environment (where time is money), but in a makerspace, these circumstances provide a prime learning atmosphere.

While the education provided in a makerspace might (for now) be informal, it is truly a hands-on experience which requires both trades knowledge and refined problem solving skills on various fronts. Education in a makerspace is still a growing trend, but it is most certainly growing fast.