Is your child considering trade school? Tap into your 529

Is your child looking for ideas for the future but not sold on college? Did you know that there are hundreds of job opportunities that don’t require a traditional degree? What’s more, you can use tax-free distributions from your 529 account to pay for your student’s qualified educational expenses.


529 plans may be used to pay for post-secondary education at thousands of eligible institutions, including trade schools and apprenticeship programs. Distributions from your 529 account can be used to cover books, supplies, and equipment—even room and board in many cases.

There is a wide range of trade—or vocational—schools nationwide, offering diverse programs. Trade schools typically take less than two years to complete and may be much cheaper than traditional colleges. In fact, the average cost of a trade school is approximately $33,000.1 Compare that to the more than $88,000 you could pay at a public college for a four-year degree as an in-state resident.2

Good jobs abound

There are many well-paying careers that don’t require a traditional bachelor’s degree, including MRI technician (median salary $73,424), aircraft mechanic ($64,085), real estate appraiser ($57,013), and electric lineman ($72,509).3 Job growth for many trades is high and expected to remain so through the rest of the decade. Here is just a sample of some of the growth opportunities in various fields.

Opportunities for growth4
Chart shows various careers and their growth potential over the next 8 years.

Most trade schools do require a high school diploma or GED. The Federal School Code Lookup Tool provides information on which trade schools are eligible for qualified 529 distributions. Your child can also visit to research qualified programs.

And, while thinking about your child’s options, be sure to sit down with your financial professional who can help you make decisions on affordability and can help you implement a plan, including the use of your 529 education savings account.