Apprenticeships Vs. Trade Schools

If you’re thinking about joining a union trade, then you must undergo a series of important training sessions. Most union workers have the option of enrolling in a trade school or to take on an apprenticeship program. Though both training methods pave an excellent learning path, they are fundamentally different. Apprenticeships are hands-on work opportunities, while trade schooling is conducted in a classroom environment.

There are several benefits of unions for employers to invest in. All these perks can be secured in an apprenticeship or with a trade school degree. If you want to become a successful union professional, then it is in your best interest to take part in either of these training programs.

To help you decide on the right solution for you, we’ve identified the pros and cons of each training practice:


Apprenticeships are hands-on learning programs that expose students to real-life labor simulations. Much like an internship program, apprenticeships provide invaluable learning experiences in labor-intensive jobs. As an apprentice, you are treated like a full-time employee with a union membership attached. It’s an opportunity that gives you the chance to learn under the wing of an experienced professional.

Getting an apprenticeship license is a rewarding task but it comes with several perks and disadvantages. When it comes to apprentice training, these are the main things that need to be accounted for:


  • More hands-on training right away
  • Exposure to real-world labor scenarios
  • Paid learning experience
  • Apprentices earn higher wages
  • Education gained with no debt
  • Economical learning program
  • Creates a pathway towards your career
  • No need for a four-year degree


  • Good apprenticeship opportunities are hard to come by
  • Shorter holidays
  • Limited career options
  • Work schedule limitations
  • Redundancy of learning certain principles
  • Greater line of autonomy and responsibilities

Trade Schools:

Attending a technical school can pave an exciting career path for you in any labor union group. Today, a large percent of union workers have obtained a trade school education. This exciting training opportunity gives you the chance to learn new technical skills in an expedient amount of time. When you attend a trade school, you are a student learning the ropes from many experienced technicians.

Many people with union jobs have paid their union dues by attending trade schools. It’s a labor movement with many pros and cons. These are the things that must be accounted for if you are deciding on technical school:


  • Instructional guidance
  • Personal development and sharper critical thinking
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Specialized training sessions
  • Better job experience
  • Takes 2 years or less to complete
  • Lessons from an experienced professional
  • Little to no tuition debt


  • Larger financial commitment than an apprenticeship
  • Lacks hands-on learning activities
  • No job guarantees
  • Limited availability of schools
  • Scope of work is only applicable to technical demands
  • No other choice in career path


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