An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

An education is the biggest investment you could make in yourself. You’ll carry the skills you learn with you for the rest of your life. No one can take them away. You can’t default on them.

But you can fall behind on student loans. That’s why it’s important to consider the returns on your training investment. How does the cost of trade school stack up against other educational options, the job prospects after graduation and the satisfaction you could find in your career choice?

Vocational Training: Low Cost, High Career Potential

  • 81% of construction companies are having a hard time filling salaried and hourly skilled trades positions.viii.
  • Vocational training can prepare you for them at a fraction of the cost of college.

Cost Comparison: Traditional vs. Vocational Education

Bachelor’s Degree from a University (4 Years)


Associate Degree from a Community College (2 Years)


Trade School Certificate (<1 Year)


Potential Return on Investment

  • 4 years of college is not the only route to a good paying job. In the U.S., there are 30 million jobs with a median yearly salary of $55,000 that don’t require a bachelor’s degreev.
  • Supply and Demand: The skilled trade shortage is forcing more companies to raise wages for workers with the right skillsvi.

Educational ROI: Earnings Comparison

Bachelor’s Degree

$64,896 in 2017

Associate Degree

$46,124 in 2017

High School Diploma


Trade School certificate


Qualitative Returns: Career Satisfaction

  1. Engaging work was the top reason American workers cited for staying at their job in 2020xi.
  2. Skilled trades jobs aren’t boring. Welders, electricians and HVAC/R technicians put their skills to work to rebuild and repair America’s infrastructurex.
    • Building and fixing thingsxi
    • Active workxii
    • Working with your handsxi
    • Travel opportunities for weldersxiii
    • More than 40 percent of college graduates worked jobs that didn’t require a degree in 2020.xii

Vocational Training: A Wise Investment in Your Future

A post-secondary education could be the first major investment you make after high school. It’s a big decision because it could impact how soon you can hit other major milestones in your life:

  • Supporting yourself
  • Getting Married
  • Buying A Home
  • Starting a Family

With lower training costs compared to college, healthy job prospects and the potential for career satisfaction, skilled trades training can be the first smart investment of many you makexv.

Investing in Your Future: Where to Find Funding

See if you qualify and map out a plan to fund your investment in your future with the resources and tools below.

Ready to Start Vocational Training? Sign Up Today

Ready to get started with vocational training? We can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the admissions, enrollment, and financial aid process. Call us today.

Additional Sources


Accredited School, ACCSC. Licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Post Secondary Education. The AOS/MME program is the Associate of Occupational Studies in Mechanical Maintenance Engineering degree program and is not an academic degree. GI Bill® Eligible (check with local campus for specific eligibility). For more information about our programs, please visit our website at:

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at

Financial aid and scholarships available to those who qualify. Candidates need to refer to the scholarship information page to determine topic of essay (where applicable) and must meet all regular admissions requirements and be scheduled to start training prior to applying for a scholarship. If a student changes his/her re-enter date, the scholarship award may be forfeited. Scholarships are not transferable and most scholarships cannot be used in conjunction with any other scholarship RSI offers. In most cases, only one award will be given per student. If a student is eligible for multiple scholarships, the scholarship that is most beneficial to the student will be awarded. Scholarships will be distributed incrementally over the entire duration of the program. Scholarship eligibility requires continuous enrollment. Failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress may result in the probation and possible loss of scholarship. Termination from training may also result in the loss of a scholarship, which may increase your tuition obligation to RSI. Tuition charges will be based on the amount reflected on your Enrollment Agreement. See the reverse side of your Enrollment Agreement or the School Catalog for the school’s refund policy.

12 Graduates initially employed in 44 states according to our ACCSC Annual Report data for reports dated 7/1/18 – 7/1/2023.

13 Indicates the total number of current partnered employers for RSI as of May 2023.

14 Total number of estimated graduates for RSI calculated based on historic data available as of Jan 1st, 2023.

*,1 According to 2019 IPEDS data RSI has the largest total enrollment of students for all post-secondary schools in the U.S. offering both CIP codes Electromechanical Technology/Electromechanical Engineering and HVAC/R Engineering Technology/Technician.


1 Total number of estimated graduates for RSI calculated based on historic data available as of Jan 1st, 2023.

iEmployment is expected to grow for Welders, Cutters, Solderers & Brazers (514121) in the US by 47,600 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Employment is expected to grow for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (499021) in the US by 40,100 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Employment is expected to grow for Electricians (472111) in the US by 79,900 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Employment is expected to grow for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters (472152) in the US by 48,600 jobs from 2021 to 2031. Employment is expected to grow for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers (499051) in the US by 11,100 jobs from 2021 to 2031.

3 For students who started and completed their training during the 12-month period for which 150% of normal time for completion has elapsed and who attained employment in their field of study as outlined on our annual accreditation report dated July 1, 2021. Refer to the most current Student Right-to-know Information for more details on calculation details

4 AWS Welding Employment Stats: Welding Employment Stats: According to BLS data Arizona employed 5,520 and Phoenix employed 4,060 Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers (514121). HVAC/R Employment Stats: According to BLS data Arizona employed 10,000 and Phoenix employed 7,860 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanical and Installers (4999021). Electrician Employment Stats: According to BLS data Arizona employed 13,650 and Phoenix employed 10,840 Electricians (472111). Mechanical Engineering Stats: According to BLS data Arizona employed 1,060 and Phoenix area employed 840 Mechanical Engineering Technicians (173027). BLS data is reported through May 2020

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