4-year Colleges vs. Technical Schools: Your Choice

trade school

This post may contain affiliate links which means we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

College is not for everyone, but that does not mean you shouldn’t pursue some sort of higher education or job training at a technical school. When you think about your future, what do you envision? Are you doing something you love, or are you just working for a paycheck?

If you are one of the many who is trying to make a decision about where to spend your money and invest your future, read on. This article provides a comparison of 4-year colleges and technical schools. Which one is right for you?

How to choose between 4-year colleges and technical schools

Ask yourself these questions and then consider the benefits and disadvantages of each type of school.

What are your goals? Do you have a specific career goal? What are your educational goals? Do you want to learn as much as you can about a variety of subjects? Do you want to learn as much as you can about one specific topic (become an expert)?

What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Would you benefit from a shorter more targeted program?

Lifestyle. How will school fit into your life? Would you benefit from non-traditional scheduling such as online, evening, or distance learning? 4-year colleges and technical colleges both offer such options, but it varies by school so check with any schools you are interested in attending.

What do you need? Realistically, what sort of degree or training do you need to pursue your dreams? Research your desired field–know what the requirements are and how they compare to the programs you are considering. The US Department of Education website offers resources for career and training research.

Be a consumer. Check equipment; is it new and up-to-date? How does it compare to the equipment you will be using on the job? Trust me, this can be tedious but it is quite important. After graduation, I realized I should have taken more time to research the computer programs employers expected me to know for technical writing jobs. Had I been better informed, I could have taken extra courses dealing specifically with those programs.

Investigate the following: campus size, current and former students, faculty, and staff;
Find out if the school is accredited and licensed; Do they make extraordinary claims? Will your credits be transferable?

4-year Colleges

Some people like to learn just for the sake of learning, while some are more focused and driven and use school as a steppingstone for job advancement. If you are interested in more scholarly pursuits a traditional 4-year college might be your best option.


There are many benefits to getting a four-year degree from a college or university. One of the most important is that it provides you with a well-rounded education. You’ll take classes in a variety of subject areas, giving you a broad base of knowledge. This will prepare you for success in any field you choose to pursue.

Learning to think critically and analytically is another benefit of a college education. You’ll learn how to formulate and present your own ideas, using logic and evidence to support your arguments. This skill set will help you no matter what career path you ultimately choose.

In addition, a college degree provides prestige in the job market. A bachelor’s degree is often seen as the minimum requirement for many entry-level jobs. Even if you’re not planning on entering the workforce right away, having a degree will give you an advantage when you do start job hunting.


There are many disadvantages to attending a 4-year college or university, including the high cost and time commitment involved. First, college is an expensive investment of both money and time. Not only do you have to pay tuition for every semester, but you also need to cover the costs of housing, food, transportation, books and supplies, and other sundries like cell phone and internet bills. If you work while in school, that often means less time to devote to studying, plus the hassle of fitting work hours around your class schedule.

Additionally, attending a 4-year college will likely require you to commit at least four years of your life to finish your degree. This means sacrificing time that could be spent working, traveling, or starting a family. It can also be difficult to change your major once you’ve declared one, as most colleges require students to complete a set number of courses in their chosen field before they can graduate. This can add extra time and expense to your degree if you decide you want to switch majors partway through your studies.

Finally, the job market can be slower to rebound after a recession for those with only a 4-year degree. This is because many employers prefer candidates who have specialized training or experience in their field, and a 4-year degree alone may not provide enough of either. As a result, you may find yourself needing to pursue additional education or training after graduation in order to qualify for the jobs you’re interested in.

Overall, while a 4-year college can certainly be an excellent option for those who know exactly what they want to study, there are many factors to consider before making the decision. Ultimately, it is up to each individual student to decide whether such an investment of time and money is right for them.

Technical Schools

If college was for everyone, technical schools would not exist. Some people may feel a stigma attached to technical schools. In a society where attending college has become standard, we lose sight of the value of skills training. People feel abnormal and may be angry if they don’t want to go to college but feel pressured to do so anyway.


Technical schools offer a number of benefits over traditional four-year colleges. For one, they typically have shorter programs that can be completed in two years or less. This can save students time and money on their education.

Additionally, technical schools often have more flexible admission standards than four-year colleges. This can make it easier for students to get into these schools and begin their training.

Finally, technical schools focus on hands-on training in a variety of fields. This means that students can learn the skills they need to enter their chosen careers by working through practical projects, rather than simply attending lectures about abstract concepts.

Overall, then, technical schools offer students a number of advantages over traditional four-year colleges. These schools can save students time and money, provide more flexible admission standards, and focus on hands-on training in a variety of fields. As a result, they are an excellent option for those looking to enter the workforce quickly and efficiently.


The primary disadvantage of technical schools is that they are often viewed as less prestigious than four-year colleges. This can make it difficult for a person to find employment after graduation, and could also limit their career options in the future. Additionally, these institutions tend to be more expensive than other types of schools and may not offer as much academic freedom or exploration of other subjects. Finally, technical schools are often for-profit institutions and may not have the same accreditation as four-year colleges, which can be a concern for some prospective students. However, these disadvantages must be balanced against the benefits of technical school education, including a greater focus on practical skills and job training, lower cost and increased availability in many areas, and a shorter duration of study. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to attend a technical school is a personal one that should be based on the individual’s needs, interests, and goals.

Jobs That Require Technical School Education

Many of the fastest-growing jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree but do require post-secondary education (education beyond high school) These jobs include:

  • Medical Assistants
  • Social and human service assistants
  • Home health aides
  • Medical records and health information technicians
  • Physical therapist aides
  • Physical therapist assistants
  • Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors
  • Veterinary technologists and technicians
  • Hazardous materials removal workers
  • Dental hygienists
  • Occupational therapist aides
  • Dental assistants
  • Personal and home care aides
  • Self-enrichment education teachers
  • Occupational therapist assistants
  • Physical therapy assistants
  • Environmental science and protection technicians, including health
  • Preschool teachers, except for special education
  • Respiratory therapists

For more information on job growth statistics see the Bureau of Labor Statistics webpage.

Remember, the best way to determine what is right for you is to simply know yourself and be informed.