More than six million Americans choose to attend two-year community colleges and trade schools each year. It's not difficult to see why. Trade schools are less expensive than most four-year colleges and universities. Plus, such schools offer targeted training programs designed to prepare students for specific careers. However, cost and course of study are just two of the many reasons for choosing a trade school after high school instead of college.

Advantages to trade school vs. college

1. Costs less. Trade schools are dramatically less expensive than traditional, four-year colleges. The average cost of a trade school degree is $33,000. That compares to an average of $127,000 for a four-year bachelors degree from a college or university. Plus, by owing less tuition with a trade school, you'll graduate with fewer student loans hanging over your head and thus pay less in interest on those loans.

2. Offers a targeted course of study. Trade school degree programs are focused on training you for specific careers. You usually won't find general education courses, such as philosophy, art history and/or history, at a trade school. Their job is to teach you the knowledge and skills you need to be able to work in a specific job.

3. Requires less time. Most trade school courses of study require two years or less to complete. Most college degree programs require at least four years of study. Some require even more.

4. Makes it easy to work while you study. Most colleges and universities require you to go to classes during traditional work hours, like from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., making it difficult to work a full-time job while you go to school. Trade schools, on the other hand, often offer classes during the evenings or on weekends, so that you can work your classroom time around your job.

5. Gives hands-on training. Much of the training you'll receive at a trade school is by doing the exact tasks that you'll be doing in your job when you graduate. This compares to general courses and theory that are primarily taught at four-year colleges.

While going to a trade schools after high school may not be the right choice for every student, trade schools are dramatically less expensive than most colleges, offer a targeted course of study and get students out in the job market earning money much more quickly than the average college degree program.