Best Trade Schools in Arizona

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by Nalea Ko

Published on June 16, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
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Best Trade Schools in Arizona
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Arizona faces a student loan debt dilemma. Roughly 47% of Arizona college graduates in 2019-20 had student loan debt, with students owing $24,298 on average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. As college tuition continues to rise, many Arizona students are turning to trade schools to learn skilled trades in growing industries.

Trade school graduates usually pay less for their education and spend less time in school than traditional college students. Accelerated certificates and diplomas allow trade students within months or weeks to start new careers —many of which offer good wages and continuing professional growth opportunities.

Find out on this page how to enroll in trade schools in Arizona and what the best trade school jobs pay.

Trade Jobs and Salaries in Arizona

It does not take a college degree to earn a decent wage in Arizona. Many of Arizona's highest concentrations of trade jobs only require a high school diploma or GED certificate. As you can see below, automotive service technicians, cooks, and emergency medical technicians can make decent wages without having to earn a college degree.

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics


Cooks


Emergency medical technicians and paramedics


Insurance Appraisers


Library Technicians

Trade Schools in Arizona

Community colleges, vocational schools, and trade schools train students through classroom and clinical work. About 25 two-year public schools operate in Arizona, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The state also has 49 private nonprofit and private for-profit, two-year and less than two-year schools.

Trade school programs include cosmetology, dental assistance, electrical technology, HVAC technology, mining, pharmacy technician training, truck driving, and welding.

Arizona ranks among the top five states with the highest employment levels of miners, geological engineers, and mining safety engineers. Fun fact: Professionals in mining and geological engineering make an average of $85,020.

Nationwide, some of the fastest-growing jobs include wind turbine service technicians, solar photovoltaic installers, exercise trainers, manicurists and pedicurists, and massage therapists. The BLS projects that these trades will grow by 32%-68% from 2020 to 2030.

Average Cost of Trade School in Arizona

College students at public four-year schools in Arizona paid $11,072 for in-state tuition and fees in the 2019-2020 school year and $27,417 for out-of-state tuition and fees, according to the NCES. Private four-year schools charged $12,895 for tuition and fees. Compare those prices to those of public two-year schools in Arizona, which charged $2,151 in 2019-2020 for in-state tuition and fees and $7,642 for out-of-state tuition and fees.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in Arizona

Trades schools in Arizona that meet federal guidelines can qualify for federal financial aid. Students attending programs that operate for 15 weeks or more can complete a FAFSA form and get federal loans and grants. Programs that run for fewer than 15 weeks only qualify for direct loans.

Scholarships for Arizona Programs

Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (AzLEAP)


Black Women's Task Force Scholarship


The Refrigeration School's HVAC/R Scholarship

Accreditations in Arizona

Much like traditional colleges and universities, reputable trade schools hold accreditation from independent agencies. Common accrediting agencies for trade schools in Arizona include the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc., Council on Occupational Education, and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

Accredited trade schools secure a student's investment and provide job security. Accrediting agencies review a trade school's learning outcomes, curriculum, and faculty. This voluntary process offers quality assurance and helps students get jobs and licenses in their respective trades. Licensing agencies often require students to have completed accredited trade programs in Arizona.

Aside from accreditation, other factors that separate trade schools include cost, time commitment, job placement services, and student outcomes, such as graduation rates.

Apprenticeships in Arizona

According to the Arizona Apprenticeship Program, roughly 4,000 apprentices participated in apprenticeships in 2021. Trade schools and colleges in Arizona offer apprenticeships that let students make money while they train. Arizona Western College features a four-year electrical apprenticeship that leads to a certificate and a career as a journeyman. Students can also seek out apprenticeships after graduating from trade schools in Arizona. Paid apprenticeships, on average, last 3-4 years.

Additionally, the Arizona Apprenticeship Office offers apprenticeships in industries such as air conditioning mechanics, boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, community health workers, cooks, electronics technicians, and manicurists.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in Arizona

true How much does trade school cost in Arizona?

Trade schools in Arizona cost less than traditional four-year colleges and universities, on average. That said, tuition and fees vary by school and program. Certificates and diplomas that take an average of one year cost less than degrees, which require a two-year or four-year commitment. According to the NCES, Arizona public two-year colleges charged $2,151 for in-state tuition and fees and $7,642 for out-of-state tuition and fees in 2019-2020.

Private trade schools may charge higher fees. In 2021, Arizona College in Glendale charged $18,272 annually for tuition and fees, while Carrington College in Tucson cost $12,731.

true Are trade schools better than college?

Trade schools offer accelerated training programs in specific high-skilled trades. Instead of spending two or four years at college, trade students complete programs within months and begin earning a paycheck. Courses also offer flexibility with evening and/or weekend options.

Programs emphasize hands-on learning in labs and clinics or through paid apprenticeships. At The Refrigeration School, graduates can complete a refrigeration technology training program in six months or a welding specialist training program in six months. Accredited trade schools also may offer transferable credits for graduates who want to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree.

What trade jobs pay the most?

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest-paying occupations that do not require a four-year degree include electrical and electronics repairers, first-line fire fighting supervisors, shop engineers, captains and masters of water vessels, and insurance appraisers. These professionals earn between $62,100 and $78,410.

Other high-paying careers in Arizona include motorboat mechanics and service technicians, claims adjusters, stationary engineers, and earth drillers. These well-paid professionals make an average annual salary of $49,590-$66,310, according to the BLS. Wages also increase as trades graduates gain more experience and professional development.

How can I go to school for free in Arizona?

Through the Arizona Promise Program, undergraduate students can get a free ride to Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, or the University of Arizona. This state program covers tuition and fees for eligible low-income high school students who have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students receive an award for in-state tuition and other fees. Eligible students must be Arizona residents.

Arizona students can also find other opportunities such as scholarships, grants, and programs at specific colleges to pay for tuition. For instance, Pinal County residents get free tuition at Central Arizona College for the 2021-2022 school year.

Best Arizona Trade Schools

Each program on the list will meet our criteria, being:

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
GateWay Community College-Central City true
  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $85-$441 per credit
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Applicants need to submit an application and high school transcripts or a placement test. New students need to complete pre-enrollment sessions. Certain trades require work experience.
  • Graduation requirements: Degrees and certificates require students to complete credits or specific hours. Students complete 61-76 credits over 11-24 months.
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

About the Program:

GateWay Community College in Central City features more than 160 associate and bachelor's degrees and certifications. Available trades include electrical technician, HVAC technology, precision machining, production technology, and welding.

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International School of Cosmetology-Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy true
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $16,558 per year
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: The school only admits students who are at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Graduation requirements: Graduatescomplete about 1,600 hours in the classroom and clinic
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

The International School of Cosmetology-Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy offers cosmetology, barbering, cosmetology instructor, and makeup and skincare programs. Licensed hairdressers can also take advanced courses.

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Paul Mitchell the School Phoenix true
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $19,125 per year
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Applicants must submit an application, two photos, an essay, high school transcripts or a GED certificate, and identifying documents
  • Graduation requirements: Complete about 1,700 hours in the classroom and clinic
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences

About the Program:

Paul Mitchell the School Phoenix features cosmetology, esthetics, and instructor programs, with a start date nearly every month.

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Penrose Academy true
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $10,900
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Graduation requirements: Graduates must complete 20-47 weeks of training.
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education

About the Program:

Penrose Academy offers a catalog of programs that include cosmetology, hair, esthetics, and laser technology. Some programs offer hybrid learning formats.

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Pima Medical Institute East Valley true
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $18,455
  • Location: Mesa, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Candidates need a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete 35 credits over 9-23 months, including an externship.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

About the Program:

Pima Medical Institute East Valley offers on-campus certificates, associate degrees, and courses. Students can also study online to earn associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees online. Programs include dental assistance, healthcare administration certificate, medical assistance, and medical billing and coding.

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The Refrigeration School
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $20,784
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation requirements: Complete required lectures, lab hours, contact hours, and outside prep hours.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

About the Program:

The Refrigeration School Inc offers programs that can be completed in as little as six months. Students can study HVAC and refrigeration, electrical applications, or welding.

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Regional Center for Border Health
  • Type: Private nonprofit
  • Cost: $4,728 for tuition and fees
  • Location: Somerton, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. They must be at least 18 years old and score a minimum of 8.0 on the Test for Adult Basic Education.
  • Graduation requirements: Graduates must complete their program and internship requirements, including CPR certification in some cases.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

About the Program:

The Regional Center for Border Health, founded in 1987, offers programs for future medical office specialists, nursing assistants, medical coders and billers, phlebotomy technicians, nutrition and food services management, caregivers, and food handlers.

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Studio Academy of Beauty
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $4,200-$18,155
  • Location: Chandler, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Incoming students must be U.S. citizens who hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete 600-1,600 classroom and clinic hours.
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Studio Academy of Beauty features programs in cosmetology, esthetics, and hairstylists.

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Tucson College of Beauty
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $6,800-$15,500
  • Location: Tucson, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation requirements: Students need to complete required contact hours and school exams with a score of 75% or higher.
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts

About the Program:

The Tucson College of Beauty prepares students to become licensed cosmetologists, esthetics, hair stylists, nail technicians, and student instructors.

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Xtylo Beauty College
  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $13,200
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Admission/application requirements: Candidates need a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete all classroom and clinic hours, averaging 350-1,600 hours.
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Xtylo Beauty College features cosmetology, nail technician, and instructor programs. Programs last 3-16 months.

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Other Notable Arizona Trade Schools

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.

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