Construction trade schools help students develop career-specific knowledge and skills that they can apply in the construction industry and other fields.
Construction workers plan, build, renovate, and demolish buildings and other structures. Graduates from construction trade schools may qualify for a variety of exciting career paths, like carpenter, construction site manager, electrician, foreman, plumber, and project manager.
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If you enjoy problem-solving and working with tools, you might consider turning your passions into career potential by pursuing schooling for construction.
Online Construction Trade Schools
A construction trade school is beneficial for students who want to understand how to build and fix structures. These programs typically focus on the principles of construction and engineering. Students can apply this theoretical knowledge to make safe, durable buildings that comply with legal regulations.
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Online vocational schools for construction also help students develop practical skills in carpentry, plumbing, and other areas. You can learn how to safely use various tools, like circular saws, drills, and jackhammers.
Here are some of the topics that you can expect to study while attending a contractor trade school:
- Blueprint reading
- Commercial and residential plumbing
- Construction building codes
- Construction materials
- Cost Estimating
- Floor installation
- Framing or finish carpentry
- HVAC systems
- Project management
- Site planning
Some construction management trade schools allow students to specialize in a particular area or craft. For example, you may have the opportunity to specialize in construction management, construction technology, or home remodeling.
A specialization lets you narrow your studies and may prepare you for a preferred career. Graduates from construction trade schools often work for private companies that provide commercial and residential construction services. For example, many graduates secure employment with general contracting, plumbing, or roofing businesses.
Construction professionals may also qualify for positions in heavy and civil engineering. Careers in this area include electrical power-line installers, pipelayers, and welders.
Common Construction Programs
If you’re interested in schooling for construction, you can choose from several types of programs, including:
- Certificate Program. A certificate program allows students to study one facet of construction. For example, you may earn a certificate in building inspection, HVAC systems, or plumbing. Most certificate programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years.
- Associate’s Program. This college degree focuses on fundamental construction safety practices and skills. An associate’s program can help students qualify for construction management positions like foreman and site supervisor. Typically, an associate’s degree takes 2 years to complete.
- Bachelor’s Program. This degree allows students to gain a more comprehensive understanding of construction approaches and theories. Many programs also include extensive business coursework. A bachelor’s degree can help prepare students for more advanced construction management roles. A bachelor’s degree generally takes 4 years to finish.
- Master’s Program. You can gain advanced expertise in construction by pursuing a master’s degree. These programs cover more specialized and interdisciplinary subjects, like construction accounting, real estate analysis, and sustainability. Most master’s students finish in 2 years.
Your career goals and schedule can help you determine which program is the best fit for you.
Construction Careers & Salaries
Attending a construction trade school can unlock career paths in many industries. Construction professionals frequently work for corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Additionally, construction professionals can use their skills to secure roles in other industries. For example, some graduates work as project management specialists in the manufacturing and real estate industries.
Many construction positions begin as apprenticeships. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median wages of some construction-related careers.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers||$72,010|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||$61,640|
|Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||$59,880|
|Construction Equipment Operators||$48,290|
|Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers||$48,040|
|Construction Laborers and Helpers||$37,520|
Many graduates from construction trade schools work for private construction companies that specialize in heavy civil, commercial, industrial, or residential construction.
Those in heavy civil construction work on complex structures like bridges, dams, and skyscrapers. Commercial construction companies build and update non-residential buildings, such as hospitals and universities. Experts in industrial construction concentrate on large buildings used to create products, like factories and warehouses.
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Residential construction companies focus on building, maintaining, and renovating apartments, condos, duplexes, and single-family homes.
Pros and Cons of Trade School for Construction
There are numerous pros and cons to attending a trade school for construction. Here are a few essential factors to consider:
|Pros of Trade School for Construction||Cons of Trade School for Construction|
Weighing the pros of cons may help you determine whether construction trade school is right for you.
Trade schools for construction often have fewer admissions criteria than traditional degree programs, such as an on-campus or online construction management degree. Requirements vary by program, but here are a few standard criteria:
- High school diploma or GED equivalent
- Interview with the school’s admissions department
- Official transcripts from previous educational institutions
- Resume that lists your education, work history, and relevant skills
Many trade schools also require prospective students to complete an online application and pay an application fee. Different schools may have different admissions requirements, so it’s beneficial to research the specific criteria of your prospective schools.
Accreditation is an essential consideration when researching trade schools for construction. Colleges, trade schools, and other educational institutions can earn accreditation by passing rigorous evaluations. An accredited trade school has demonstrated that it provides a high quality of education.
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Enrolling in an accredited trade school has several benefits. Course credits transfer more easily between accredited institutions, enabling students to continue their education after trade school. Plus, some companies prioritize graduates from accredited programs when evaluating job candidates. Students who attend accredited institutions may also qualify for more financial aid opportunities.
Construction Licensure and Certifications
You may expand your career opportunities by earning additional construction licenses and certificates. Here are a few prestigious credentials:
- National Center for Construction Education and Research: This organization offers knowledge assessments and certifications in many construction areas, such as industrial painting, masonry, and plumbing.
- OSHA Outreach Trainer: This certificate authorizes construction professionals to provide outreach training classes on OSHA regulations.
- State electrical licensing: Many states require aspiring electricians to pass an exam and complete a set number of work hours under the supervision of a licensed electrician.
It’s beneficial to research federal, state, and local licensing requirements for your preferred job.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re planning to attend trade school, you can see if you qualify for financial aid opportunities to help you achieve your educational goals.
The federal government offers several types of financial aid, including grants and work-study programs. You could also be eligible for federal student loans, which often have lower interest rates than private loans. You can determine your eligibility for these programs by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Some trade schools offer grants and scholarships based on merit or need. You might be required to complete a separate financial aid application to qualify.
Is Construction a Good Career?
Yes, construction is a good career for many professionals. People who enjoy working with their hands and coordinating projects may find fulfillment in a construction job.
This versatile field can lead to many career paths. For instance, graduates from construction trade schools may go on to become carpenters, cost estimators, project managers, and electricians. Some professionals even start their own construction companies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for construction and extraction occupations is expected to grow by 4% over the next ten years. Around 723,000 job openings in the overall field are anticipated each year.
What Skills Do You Learn in Construction Trades Schools?
Students can gain many valuable skills while attending a contractor trade school, such as:
- Blueprint reading. Learn how to understand architectural blueprints and use them to build projects.
- Communication. Develop strategies to share information verbally and in writing with clients, coworkers, and managers.
- Cost estimation. Study how to accurately predict the cost of labor, materials, and other expenses.
- Project management. Learn how to coordinate large projects and stay within budget.
- Scheduling. Gain the ability to plan and stick to strict project timelines.
Additionally, you can develop technical skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and other crafts, depending on your program and chosen specialty. Some trade schools may even offer specific programs in these specialties, such as an on-campus or online certificate in carpentry program.
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Construction Manager?
A construction manager coordinates and oversees construction projects. Typically, this position requires a bachelor’s degree in construction management, business, engineering, or another relevant field. Additionally, many employers prefer that construction managers have several years of work experience.
A construction manager trade school or bachelor’s program typically covers subjects like construction finance, engineering, and facility management. Students can also gain applicable skills like communication, leadership, and organization.
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Some professionals choose to complete a master’s in construction management. This advanced degree may help prepare you for more senior roles in the construction industry. You could also specialize in areas like green construction and real estate development.
How Long Is Trade School for Construction Online?
Your enrollment status, the type of program, and other factors can affect how long it takes you to graduate from contractor trade school.
An online construction diploma or certificate, such as an on-campus or online construction management certificate, typically takes 1 to 2 years to finish. Some programs offer accelerated options that full-time students can complete in as little as 6 to 9 months. The type of skill set you choose to specialize in could affect the length of your program as well.
You can talk with admissions counselors at prospective schools to discover the range of timelines offered.
What’s the Difference Between a Trade School vs. College?
A trade school and college can both help you prepare for a construction career, but there are a few key differences.
Your academic and professional interests may help you choose the option that’s best for you.
What’s the Difference Between a General Contractor vs. Construction Manager?
Both a general contractor and construction manager coordinate construction projects, but these professionals have distinct roles.
|General Contractor||Construction Manager|
People who enjoy doing hands-on construction work may prefer a career as a general contractor, while business-minded individuals may choose to become construction managers.
Is Getting into a Construction Trade School Worth It?
Yes, getting into a construction trade school is worth it for many students. Completing a construction trade school program can help you develop many practical skills. For example, you can learn how to read blueprints, rewire buildings, repair plumbing, and safely operate tools.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job openings for construction and extraction professionals overall will increase by 4% over the next decade. The flexible skills you develop in online contractor trade school can help prepare you for various careers in this growing field. Graduates often study to become carpenters, electricians, masons, and plumbers, to name just a few possibilities.
Universities Offering Online Construction Trades Certificate Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer programs online or in a hybrid format.
Butler Community College offers certificate programs in Construction and Skilled Trades online or in a hybrid format. Concentrations include Automotive Technology, Engineering Technology, Drafting, Industrial Controls, Manufacturing, and Welding Technology. Certificate programs can typically be completed in 1 or 2 semesters. Butler’s automotive technology program is designed to prepare for the ASE certification test.
Butler Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California State University–Chico offers online programs in construction and trade. Potential courses include Electrical Technician Training, Foundations of Plumbing Training, HVAC Certified Technician Training, and Home Inspection. Programs typically provide open enrollment and multiple start dates. A dedicated advisor is commonly available to provide support, and most programs can be completed in 3 to 18 months.
CSU – Chico is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Chesapeake College offers certificate programs such as Drafting and Design, Electrical Technician, Welding and Fabrication, Work Ready Welding, and Licensure Prep for Home Improvement Contractors. An introductory course, Core Training for Skilled Trades, is designed to provide guidance for entering construction trades.
Chesapeake College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Durham Technical Community College offers a Construction Trades program in a hybrid format. Potential courses include General Home Repair, Pre-Construction, Cabinetry, Carpentry, HVAC, Plumbing, and Welding. The program is designed to train for entry-level positions in the field. Courses aim to provide hands-on training in labs, and the opportunity is offered to meet local employers.
Durham Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (Hybrid)
Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a Home Staging Specialist Technical Certificate program online. The 12 credit program aims to teach basic design principles and is designed to prepare for entry-level positions as a home stager. New terms commonly start in the fall and spring semesters.
Florida State College at Jacksonville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Louisiana State University–Shreveport offers a variety of certificate programs in Construction and Trade. Potential courses include LEED Green Associate, HVAC Certified Technician, Certified Indoor Environmentalist Prep, and a Home Inspection Certificate. Programs are offered by the Continuing Education department, and may help in career changes or upskill efforts.
Louisiana State University – Shreveport is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
San Diego State University offers certificate programs and courses in Construction online. Certificate options include Civil Sitework Construction, Construction Estimating, Construction Practices, Construction Project Management, and Construction Supervision. There are 2 introductory courses that are 1 credit each, and programs are designed to be offered at times convenient for working professionals.
San Diego State University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
San Francisco State University offers Construction Professional Online Certificates. Potential focus areas include Civil Site Work Construction, Construction Estimating, Construction Practices, Project Management, and Supervision. Classes are designed to be interactive, and are typically taught by instructors with professional experience in the industry.
San Francisco State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Seminole State College of Florida offers a Career Certificate program in Building Trade Technologies. Potential courses include Workplace Safety and Tool Skills, Introduction to Blueprint Reading, and Construction Building Science and Methods. Some credits may be transferred into an AS in Industrial Technology Management program.
Seminole State College of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (Hybrid)
Texas State Technical College offers certificate programs online. Study areas include Electrical Construction, Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology, HVAC Technology, Drafting and Design, Solar Energy Technology, and Building Construction Technology. Courses are designed to provide hands-on experience while studying under experienced instructors.
TSTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Into a Construction Trade School Online
You can learn how to transform blueprints into finished buildings by enrolling in an online construction trade school.
Graduates often apply their skills to build and renovate a variety of structures, from residential houses to enormous hospitals or highways. Additionally, trade schools for construction management can help prepare students for leadership roles in construction and other industries. These programs allow current or aspiring construction professionals to study business topics and hone their interpersonal abilities.
If you’re interested in a construction career, why not start your educational journey by researching accredited online trade schools?