Trade School Or College – Which Is Best For You?

Exciting, hope-filled, scary…Figuring out what you want to do after you finish high school can be a mix of all of these feelings. You want to make the best decision for yourself and your future, so it’s important to be sure you know about all of your options. Because of online academic opportunities, you have even more post-secondary choices than ever before. 

Let’s take a look at two of the most popular options available today. We’ll break these down into four main comparison categories:

  • Cost
  • Admissions
  • Program Length
  • Type of Training


The average cost of attending a four-year college is $35,000 per year, and while there are cheaper options for a four-year college, the price of books, courses, and living on campus still adds up. Because of that price tag and the many years that it will take to pay off student loans once you graduate, you might want to look into some less expensive options. If you can swing a four-year degree or don’t mind the thought of paying off student loans for the next four decades, then go for it! 

However, if you’re looking for something cheaper, a certificate program might be the better choice for you. For example, if you’re looking into a career in IT, you can find many different and 100% professionally accepted training programs through intensive online certificate programs. Washington Technical Institute, a sister-school to Northgate Academy, has many different IT programs that can get you into a secure, high-paying career in a matter of months. The total cost of a certificate program through WTI is going to be significantly cheaper than a two- or four-year degree. You’ll not only save money on tuition payments, but you can do the work from home, so you will miss out on the transportation costs or room-and-board from attending school in a campus setting.

In fact, WTI offers many different programs in business, healthcare, and even paralegal work. This means that if you aren’t sure about the financial investment of a traditional degree, you can still move forward toward your goals while learning through a self-paced, fully online certificate training program.


This factor is a tough one to address because no one wants to talk about their performance in high school if it was less than perfect. There are many factors about why a student might not be accepted into college. Maybe you had severe anxiety or an illness that kept you from doing your best. Or maybe you just didn’t realize how important your grades were until it was too late. You could have been juggling school, home responsibilities, and a job. Whatever the reason, sometimes admissions is the factor that prevents students from pursuing a college degree. 

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get post-secondary credits and learn a trade! At WTI, as long as you’ve earned your high school diploma, you can register for any of your certificate programs. This is great news for students wondering “What now?” when they’ve missed the boat for being admitted into college.

Not only are there loads of IT certificates that you could enroll in, but we also offer a chance for you to become a Pharmacy Technician or a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist. These are great career starting points for a young person wondering what’s next but wanting still to move forward toward a secure career. 

You have options outside of college if admissions is an issue. You just can’t give up because of past mistakes or barriers to your success. Career certificates are a widely accepted means of moving into many different promising careers.

Program Length

If you have the time and the money, then a traditional college or university education might be the best pathway for you. The availability of classes will determine when you are in class and when you have free time. You will also be locked in to either two or four years of training on a campus. Many different students have the ability to spend that type of time on their training, and often, their career choice requires it.

But if you are ready to start a career now without having to put in two or four years, then a career certificate is a great option available to you. Students have plenty of reasons why they want to get into a career more quickly, so it’s wonderful that today’s online academic options can do that for you.

We’ve already talked about WTI’s IT programs and healthcare options, both of which offer a fast move into a new and secure career. But another option that can get you into a career quickly is in the legal field. If you’re the type of student who loves research, who is organized, and who loves learning new and interesting information about the law, then a certificate in the paralegal field might be a good place to start investigating. Paralegals work closely with attorneys and provide a wonderful career for someone with a curiosity about the legal system. A paralegal certificate can get you into an office position within months, giving a great opportunity with a short amount of time invested.

Type of Training

For many career pathways, you have to attend college. If you want to be a doctor or architect, a certified electrician or plumber, a veterinarian or teacher, you’re going to be required to attend classes and graduate from a two- or four-year college or university. The type of career you want will determine how long you attend school and what type of training you receive. 

For example, you can become a certified electrician by attending a two-year trade school, and then you can become a Master Electrician through additional classes while working through your local electrician’s union. A Master Electrician can work while they earn their status and schooling. They end up equally trained and often even more valued than someone who earned a master’s degree, accumulated a load of debt, but who hasn’t gotten the same amount of on-the-job training as the student who attended the technical school and worked through their local union. 

The type of career you want will determine if you attend college or not, so be sure to check out all of your options before signing up for the expensive route of attending a traditional college or university. If you can do it in less time and for less money, then that cheaper, faster option might be the best route for you to take.

Every student and every career pathway is different, so checking out your options is an important step before signing on to any one specific route. Your future is bright, and your time and money is valuable! 

If you need further help discussing your career pathway for after graduation, you can check in via email with your academic success coach at NGA, or you can contact Washington Technical Institute for more information about our certificate options. Feel free to call WTI at 800-371-5581 or text us at 952-465-3702. The WTI admissions specialists will be happy answer whatever questions you have.

Northgate Academy Welcomes Everyone

We have a unique community of online learners from all over the world. We have students that chose to attend high school online due to social problems, large classroom size, conflicting beliefs concerning the educational process, and bullying. Maybe you just don’t share the values taught at the public schools. We have athletes, performers, military and ex-pats students; as well as international students that have chosen to earn an American, accredited high school diploma online. Students love the ability to attend a Christian school online according to their schedule and pace.

If you are ready to get started, why not Enroll Now?