Best Trade Schools 2022

Considering trade school vs. college? Learn what is offered at trade schools and find the best trade schools for your career.

portrait of Heather Mullinix
by Heather Mullinix

Published on June 13, 2022 · Updated on June 15, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Best Trade Schools 2022
Image Credit: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images


Trade schools allow students to gain industry-specific skills and enter the workforce in high-wage and high-demand occupations. More than 11 million Americans work in a skilled trade, with about 1.3 million job openings each year.

Trade school careers include construction, automotive repair, cosmetology, computer technology, and culinary arts. Unlike schools offering associate or bachelor’s degrees, students can often graduate with recognized industry certification in less than two years. Many programs require a year or less. Many classes feature hands-on instruction, allowing students to practice and master the skills they need in the workforce.

Students considering trade school vs. college can find rewarding opportunities. Below, learn more about the best trade schools, what career tracks trade schools offer, and financial aid for trade schools.

Find More Top-Ranked Trade Schools in Your State

State

Best Accredited Trade School Programs

Rankings Methodology:
  • Must offer less than one-year certifications
  • Accredited
  • Less than 18:1 faculty to student ratio
  • Less than $35,000 in tuition costs
  • Over 50% graduation rate
true Ashland, Ohio Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $8,922
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 7-10 months
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Council on Occupational Education

Students can choose from 14 programs in high-growth fields, including industrial maintenance, plumbing, welding, and healthcare. The school offers both adult career preparation and high school instruction. Programs include hands-on learning and work-based placements.

true Little Rock, Arkansas Baptist Health College Little Rock

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Cost: $12,598
  • Admissions: High school diploma, SAT or ACT scores, and recommendations
  • Graduation: 4-24 months
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education

Baptist Health College offers training in nine medical fields, including nursing, occupational therapy assistant, and sleep technology. The nursing program offers both traditional and accelerated tracts.

true Glen Dale, West Virginia B.M. Spurr School of Practical Nursing

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Cost: $5,620
  • Admissions: High school diploma or equivalent, recommendations, admissions test
  • Graduation: One year
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Offered through Reynolds Memorial Hospital and West Virginia University, this program trains practical nurses for their careers in one year. The program includes classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experiences.

true Chico, California Butte County Regional Occupational Program

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $7,000
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 3-24 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

The Butte County ROP builds job skills and offers career guidance to students in its four programs: medical assistant, dental assistant, veterinary assistant, and phlebotomy. It reports 100% placement of dental assistant graduates.

true Cape Girardeau, Missouri Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $8,400
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 9-22 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

CTC offers full-time programs that include healthcare, computer programming and networking, automotive services, culinary arts, and technology. They also offer short-term evening courses for continuing education and personal development programs.

Port Charlotte, Florida Charlotte Technical College

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $3,100
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 3-24 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

CTC maintains strong industry partnerships to offer more than 20 career-focused educational programs. Choose from careers in cybersecurity, aviation mechanics, or culinary arts. In addition to industry certification, CTC maintains articulation agreements, allowing students to transfer their skills toward a four-year degree.

Garden Grove, California Concorde Career College-Garden Grove

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Cost: $32,469
  • Admissions: High school diploma or equivalent, college entrance exam
  • Graduation: 3-24 months
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Concorde focuses on healthcare training, with programs in nursing, physical therapy assistant, dental hygiene, and more. The school offers frequent class starts, with personalized attention and hands-on instruction. Instructors may use blended learning with clinical experiences and in-person labs.

Saint Augustine, Florida First Coast Technical College

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Cost: $6,581
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 6-12 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

FCTC offers small classes at two convenient locations, with more than 20 career programs available. The school offers nursery management, health sciences, hospitality, and transportation courses. Short-term courses provide continuing education in public safety, natural gas vehicles, and aircraft fabrication.

Cincinnati, Ohio Great Oaks Career Campuses

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $6,214
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 5-11 months
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Council on Occupational Education

Great Oaks offers four campus locations serving high school and postsecondary students. The school offers ten full-time programs, including its police academy and programs in manufacturing, construction, and automotive services. Short-term certifications include emergency medical technician (EMT) training, healthcare, and web and graphic design.

Muskogee, Oklahoma Indian Capital Technology Center-Muskogee

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $4,363
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 10-12 months
  • Accreditations: Oklahoma Board of Career and Technology Education

ICTC serves secondary and postsecondary students with hands-on training in business and industry. Full-time, evening, and online classes offer accessible education across their 30 programs. Students can earn industry-recognized certifications in healthcare fields, computer programing, human resources, and construction.

Garland, Texas International Beauty College

  • Type: Private, For-profit
  • Cost: $9,825
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 6-10 months
  • Accreditations: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1969, International Beauty College trains students for multiple personal service careers, including cosmetology, esthetician, nail technology, and eyelash extension. It also offers continuing education and refresher courses to ensure practicing beauty professionals keep their skills current. The facility offers hands-on training, with salon hours for students to work directly with clients.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Rosedale Technical College

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Cost: $15,663
  • Admissions: High school diploma or equivalent, a recognized scholastic entrance exam, a personal interview, and a valid driver’s license
  • Graduation: 3-24 months
  • Accreditations: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Rosedale Technical College serves about 385 students with career-focused education that meets the needs of area employers. The school reports an 88% job placement rate. Programs include truck driving, automotive and collision repair, welding, and industrial technician. The school also developed a training partnership with Mazada and works with area industries on specific training needs.

Sarasota, Florida Suncoast Technical College

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $6,287
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 4-24 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

The 40 technical programs offered at this school include careers in business, information technology, public services, industrial technologies, and healthcare. About 1,000 students are enrolled at any given time. Students learn in a skills-based environment, with state-of-the-art equipment and job placement assistance.

Memphis, Tennessee Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $6,121
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 2-20 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

TCAT-Memphis serves about 1,400 students across 25 programs. The school offers certificates and diplomas in aviation and avionics maintenance, automotive fields, cosmetology and barbering, and healthcare. Instructors provide individualized instruction, measuring student competency in career-focused skills.

Vero Beach, Florida Treasure Coast Technical College

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $6,703
  • Admissions: Open admissions
  • Graduation: 3-12 months
  • Accreditations: Council on Occupational Education

TCTC offers career training for in-demand healthcare careers such as pharmacy technician, phlebotomy, and practical nursing. It also provides welding certification. The school provided about 75 students with hands-on, career-focused training in 2021.

Other Notable Trade Schools

What Is Trade School?

What is trade school? Trade schools offer career-specific training. Students focus on the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their industry without many general education courses.

Trade schools go by various names, including career colleges, technical colleges, and vocational schools. Students may find trade programs offered by community colleges, especially in areas of healthcare or manufacturing. Some trade schools offer industry certifications, while others may offer associate degrees in applied science.

What Is Offered at Trade School?

Trade school careers include construction, manufacturing, personal services, healthcare support, or administrative training. The best trade schools may offer a variety of career-focused programs or focus on a specific industry, such as aviation technology or beauty schools.

Often, the local industry impacts what career tracks trade schools offer. The schools work closely with area employers to determine the need for new programs. Industry advisors and partners to ensure their curriculum reflects current practices.

Are There Online Trade School Programs?

Yes, students can find some online trade school programs. Courses include interactive classes, videos, and online learning labs. The best online trade schools combine lectures and classroom projects with real-world learning, such as hands-on labs, apprenticeships, or externships.

Online trade schools can offer students greater flexibility to pursue training for a new career. Schools offer a variety of online trade school programs, depending on your interests. Some schools also offer articulation agreements with traditional colleges, making it easier to return to school later.

What Is the Difference Between Trade School and College?

The percentage of students considering college has fallen in recent years. A May 2020 survey found that 48% of high school students were considering college after graduation, down from 71% a few months earlier. More than half of the students were interested in postsecondary training, however.

When choosing between a trade school vs. college, students should consider their career goals, finances, and time commitment. The best trade schools offer students value for their time and money and can offer advantages over a four-year college.

Trade School Four-Year College
Often less expensive than traditional college Greater variety of courses and degree options
Graduate in 3-12 months, depending on the program Earning a degree requires 2-4 years, sometimes longer
Curriculum focused on a specific career path Overall higher average lifetime earnings

How Much Does Trade School Cost?

College students pay an average of $35,331 in college costs each year. Multiply that by four. Trade school students pay an average of $33,000 for their career-focused program, which may take two years at the most. Trade school students can often avoid burdensome student loan debt. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average college student borrows about $30,000 to finance their education.

Despite the lower cost of trade school vs. college, students may still need help financing their education. Many programs qualify for federal financial aid. National, state, and community organizations support trade school students with targeted scholarship opportunities. Some companies may also offer training and educational support.

Financial Aid for Trade School

Both scholarships and grants offer educational funding that students do not have to repay. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to confirm eligibility for federal, state, and local financial aid programs. Programs must meet a 15-week minimum to qualify for the Pell Grant.

Scholarships for Trade Programs

College and Trade/Technical School Scholarships


National Association of Women in Construction Trades Scholarship


Vocational Scholarship Program of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

Federal Grants for Trade Programs

Pell Grant


Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

Trade School Careers

The best trade schools train students to enter well-paying and fast-growing careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many trade school careers need thousands of new employees each year.

Workers with some postsecondary training earned a median salary of $40,248 as of 2017. However, many skilled workers earn more. Some of the top-earning and fastest-growing skilled trades include:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Trade Schools

true Is it worth going to trade school?

The best trade schools offer students career-focused training and the path to a rewarding career. When considering trade school vs. college, consider the time required, the cost of attendance, and the jobs available for graduates.

The average trade school charges $33,000 for an entire program, though many programs charge less. Students can often graduate in less than a year and begin working in their field immediately. Many students appreciate the quick entry into the skilled workforce.

Trade school careers include fast-growing healthcare, trucking, and automotive service jobs. Top-paying trade school careers include electricians and aircraft mechanics.

true What is the best paying trade job?

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians report a median salary of $65,550. These technicians ensure aircraft operate safely by performing preventative maintenance, repairing defective parts, and diagnosing mechanical programs.

These specialized mechanics train at schools approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition to the training program, which can require up to two years to complete, aircraft mechanics must pass FAA certifications.

The scheduled air transportation industry reports the highest pay for aircraft mechanics, with a median salary of $96,320 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. Avionics technicians working in aerospace product and parts manufacturing earned a median salary of $78,700 the same year.

true What do you call a degree from a trade school?

Trade schools use various terms to describe a trade school degree. Some schools refer to their programs as certificate programs. Others may refer to diplomas. The document's name matters less than the industry skills gained during the program and any recognized industry certifications included in the course.

The best trade schools help students achieve industry certification, such as Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Industry certifications validate your expertise and knowledge in your career field. Other careers require state licensing before you can begin work. Trade schools prepare their students for the licensing exams, including building contractors, licensed practical nurses, and cosmetologists.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.