Your morning alarm time, the clothes you put on, your daily schedule and, yes, especially your wallet—your career choice affects so many aspects of your life. So, when you begin to choose the path that’s best for your future, make sure you consider all your options.

For far too long, the traditional college or university path seemed like one of the only viable options to a good-paying career. And while that path can indeed be a valuable experience, it can also be an expensive one, leaving many students with years (or decades) of debt to repay. Students must pay for each class taken in order to earn their degree, and costs vary depending on major and if a student lives in or out-of-state. On average, students of four-year universities graduate with $33,030 of student debt and pay an average of $448 a month in loans. Graduates of two-year colleges don’t fare much better, owing an average of $10,281 and paying around $333 a month.

Thankfully, today’s graduating high school seniors have more options available to them, and the good news is that a few of these options are not only much more affordable but also lead to those high-paying careers we’re all looking for. Trade schools provide an undeniable opportunity for you to earn an above-average paycheck and without losing a large portion of it to student loan payments.

Here are just a few cost factors to consider when choosing the path that’s best for you.

1. Focus on what matters

Unlike traditional colleges, trade schools do not require students to complete general education classes on unrelated subjects. Instead, they’re taught the essential skills needed to become a top applicant for high-paying jobs. While students learn many skills at MWI, their welding classes focus specifically on the knowledge needed to become a top welder. MWI students also receive one-on-one training with experienced instructors and can take classes during the shift that best suits their schedule.

2. Earn a living faster

Trade schools put students on the fast track to valuable careers. Because students focus directly on their trade and only pay for classes relevant to their career, they graduate sooner and with less debt.

At Missouri Welding Institute, for example, students can complete their training in 11 to 18 weeks instead of two or four years. Once they graduate, new welders can begin a career, earn a substantial paycheck and pay off student loans, all before a traditional college student even earns a degree. Plus, new classes begin every two weeks at MWI, so students don’t need to wait an entire semester before beginning their education…or career.

Interested in becoming a welder? READ “5 Reasons to Consider Welding as a Career”

3. No hidden costs

The expenses of a traditional college don’t end at classes. Many students pay additional fees for housing, cafeteria meals and parking passes, as well as the extra cost of textbooks, laptops, notebooks, and more. MWI’s welding program costs include all the gear, metal and supplies you need, so you won’t be hit with any surprise payments or fees—and students keep their tools after graduation.

4. Accessible financial aid

Financial aid is important to incoming students of any background. While mainstream colleges and universities offer scholarships and grants, not all applicants receive financial aid. Some scholarships and grants have specific requirements and leave many students unqualified to apply. Most students instead rely on loans to cover expenses, which results in a massive accumulation of student debt and years of monthly payments.

Grants and scholarships are just a few of the financial aid resources available for incoming MWI students. Our staff members personally assist students to help them find the best options for their future. Plus, we offer $1,000 scholarships to every participant of our annual welding competition.

Your future’s in your hands

From the automotive sector to agriculture, welding is a high-demand trade in multiple industries. The extreme need for skilled tradesmen can almost guarantee hardworking graduates a steady income and the potential to work anywhere in the world.

At MWI, you’ll learn more than how to weld. Our job placement team prepares students for life after welding school, and our classes include instruction on how to conduct a successful job search, prepare for interviews, and create and update a resumé. Our well-connected instructors work hard to help students succeed by connecting them with job recruiters and job-site managers.

The welding industry offers many benefits and opportunities, and welding school is just the beginning. Learn from accomplished, professional instructors, and put your future in your hands.