Best Trade Schools in Arkansas

portrait of Bethanny Parker
by Bethanny Parker

Updated July 9, 2022

Edited by Kelly Thomas
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Best Trade Schools in Arkansas
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College is not for everyone. Some students want to learn the skills they need to enter the workforce quickly rather than spending four more years in school. Others want to enter a career field that doesn't require a four-year degree, such as welding. Trade school is a great option for those students. Trade schools offer a pathway that can lead directly to a high-paying career without a college education.

One reason to choose trade school is the chance to graduate with little or no debt. Student loans can be crippling, and trade schools are usually less expensive than college. If you have to take on debt to attend trade school, you will likely take on less debt than you would have had if you had attended college instead.

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Ready to start your journey?

Another reason to attend trade school is to earn a higher salary than you would earn without it. Some trade school careers, such as welding and electrician, pay very well.

Trade Jobs and Salaries in Arkansas

Trade schools in Arkansas can lead to highly skilled jobs that are deeply fulfilling. Here are some of the most common trade jobs in Arkansas. These jobs require only postsecondary training at a trade school.

Nuclear Technician

Paralegal

Library Technician

Trade Schools in Arkansas

The best trade schools in Arkansas teach a variety of skilled trades, such as plumbing, carpentry, and auto mechanics. Some trade schools teach many vocational programs, while others focus on a specific career, such as cosmetology.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), there are 35 schools offering programs less than two years in Arkansas. Examples include Arkansas Beauty College, Arkansas Technical School, and Arkansas Welding Academy. Most trade schools in Arkansas are beauty schools.

Unfortunately, although cosmetology is a popular program in trade schools, it doesn't pay as well as other skilled careers. Barbers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists earned a median income of $29,680 per year in 2021, according to the BLS.

Average Cost of Trade School in Arkansas

According to calculations by BestColleges, the average cost of a trade school program in Arkansas was about $12,000 for the 2021-22 school year. The average program was around 9 months long. Longer programs tend to cost more than shorter programs.

In contrast, the average tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree program in Arkansas in 2019-20 were $8,689 per year for public schools and $23,179 for private schools, according to the NCES. That's $34,756-$92,716 for a four-year bachelor's degree in Arkansas.

One way to determine whether it is worth the investment to pursue a specific educational pathway is to figure out how long it will take the education to pay for itself. For example, imagine that you pay $25,000 for a welding program that takes 12 months to complete and you miss work for one year to take the program.

Assuming you made $30,000 per year before taking the welding course, the program's total cost — including lost wages — is $55,000. According to Payscale, the average base salary for a welder is $49,320 per year. Assuming you'll be making that much per year, that's about $19,000 more than you made before. The training program would take a little less than three years to pay for itself.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in Arkansas

Although you can't pay for trade school with a Pell grant, there are other grants and scholarships available for trade school students. Here are a few programs that provide funding for trade schools. Check with your school to find out if they know of any additional programs.

Scholarships for Trade Programs

Arkansas Workforce Challenge

Scholarships for Automotive Programs

Grants for Trade Programs

Arkansas Future Grant

For more information on paying for trade school, click here: Vocational Education Financial Aid

Accreditations in Arkansas

Many trade schools hold either institutional accreditation, programmatic accreditation, or both. Credits from accredited trade schools are more likely to count if you switch to another school. In addition, graduation from an accredited program may be required to sit for licensing exams in many trades.

Before enrolling in a trade school program, you should find out which accrediting agencies accredit that type of program. If there are multiple accrediting agencies that accredit that type of program, one may be preferred over the other. Find out if your program must be approved by a specific agency in order to qualify for certification in your trade.

Many trade schools have institutional accreditation from either the Council on Occupational Education (COE) or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

In addition to institutional accreditation, many schools have programmatic accreditation for individual programs. Examples of programmatic accrediting agencies include the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation.

Apprenticeships in Arkansas

Vocational high schools are common in Arkansas. In fact, the state requires every public school district to offer at least three career and technical education programs for different career pathways. These programs give students an opportunity to gain hands-on training in their future careers while they are still in high school.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in Arkansas

How much does trade school cost in Arkansas?

The average cost of trade school in Arkansas was about $12,000 in 2021-22. BestColleges calculated this figure based on data from the NCES. Trade school programs in Arkansas range from 4-14 months in length and cost between $3,500 and $21,330.

Shorter programs tend to cost less than longer programs. You can generally expect a 5-6 month program to cost about half as much as a 10-12 month program at the same school. Prices can vary quite a bit from one school to another, so it pays to shop around.

Is a trade school the same as a vocational school?

A trade school is a type of vocational school, but not all vocational schools are trade schools. Trade schools are postsecondary schools that teach skilled trades. Tech schools and high school trade centers are also considered vocational schools, but they are not trade schools.

Tech schools are similar to trade schools in that they teach the skills needed for a career without spending a lot of time on general education. However, tech schools focus on tech skills, such as information technology. Trade schools focus on career paths such as cosmetology, plumbing, welding, and construction.

What is the best trade to go to school for right now?

According to Indeed, the highest-paying trade careers are licensed practical nurse (LPN), HVAC technician, home inspector, plumber, and electrician. These careers are your best choices if you want to earn the highest possible salary without going to college.

However, you'll burn out quickly if the only thing you like about your new career is your salary. There are other things to consider when choosing a career, such as the typical schedule or how fulfilling you find the work. If you love helping people and don't mind bodily fluids, you might find a career as an LPN quite fulfilling.

Best Arkansas 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

Baptist Health College Little Rock

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Cost: $10,098
  • Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must possess COVID-19 vaccination or exemption and ACT/SAT scores for allied health or ATI TEAS scores for nursing.
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc., Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, American Occupational Therapy Association Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology

About the Program:

BHCLR offers 10 different health-related programs, including medical laboratory science, nursing (accelerated and traditional), occupational therapy assistant, radiography, and sleep technology. BHCLR has been offering healthcare education for over 100 years.

Velvatex College of Beauty Culture

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,230
  • Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have completed sophomore year of high school, a high school diploma or GED.
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500-2,250 hours (cosmetology) or 600-900 hours (cosmetology instruction)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Velvatex offers a cosmetology course and a cosmetology instructor course. Students can enroll full time or part time.

Paul Mitchell the School Arkansas

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,000
  • Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicant must be a high school graduate or equivalent.
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500 hours (cosmetology) or 600 hours (manicuring and cosmetology instruction)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

The program cost at Paul Mitchell the School Arkansas includes books, tools, and a kit that students can continue to use as they begin their salon careers. Paul Mitchell the School uses only Paul Mitchell products in its instruction.

Academy of Salon and Spa

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $16,500
  • Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and be high school graduates. They must have a state or federal photo ID.
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500 hours (cosmetology)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Academy of Salon and Spa offers courses in cosmetology, esthetics, and an instructor course. The cosmetology course covers all parts of the cosmetology industry, including business training, styling techniques, nail art and manicures, waxing, and hair coloring.

Arthur's Beauty College

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,750
  • Location: Conway, Fort Smith, Jacksonville, or Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500 hours
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Arthur's Beauty College is a CHI partner school with four locations in Arkansas. The school offers a 1,500-hour course in cosmetology, which teaches students how to beautify skin, hair, and nails. Graduates of the program are qualified to seek employment as color technicians, perm specialists, and image consultants.

Northwest Technical Institute

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $4,450
  • Location: Springdale, AR
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must submit official high school transcript or GED scores, official transcripts from any other postsecondary education, and Accuplacer or ACT scores that meet the school's requirements. Practical nursing and surgical technology programs have additional requirements.
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education

About the Program:

Northwest Technical Institute offers programs in several disciplines, including allied health, industrial arts, truck driving, and professional development. The school offers the following allied health programs: certified nursing assistant, practical nursing, sterile processing technician, and surgical technology.

Career Academy of Hair Design

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $18,195
  • Location: Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Rogers, Siloam Springs, and Springdale, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Prospective students can call 855-375-HAIR for admission requirements.
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500 hours (cosmetology) or 600 hours (manicuring and aesthetics)
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

Career Academy of Hair Design offers a cosmetology course that takes 11 months to complete. The school also offers a manicuring course and an aesthetics course. According to the school's website, graduates can expect to earn about $15 per hour plus tips.

Academy of Professional Cosmetology

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $6,125
  • Location: Rogers, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must be at least 17 years old with a valid driver's license, state photo ID, or passport. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.
  • Graduation requirements: 1,500 hours
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

The Academy of Professional Cosmetology offers aesthetician, cosmetology, manicure, and instructor programs. The cosmetology program teaches basic skin care and nail services, as well as trimming, cutting, coloring, and styling hair.

The Salon Professional Academy - North Little Rock

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,990
  • Location: Sherwood, Arkansas
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must submit an enrollment application and possess a high school diploma or equivalent and driver's license or photo ID.
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

The Salon Professional Academy - North Little Rock offers cosmetology, esthetics, instructor, and nail technology programs. They boast a high graduate placement rate and have a 15-to-1 student-teacher ratio. The Salon Professional Academy is the only beauty school endorsed by Redken 5th Avenue.

Arkansas Welding Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $10,713, plus $11,097 for books and supplies
  • Location: Jacksonville, AR
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must be at least 17 and turn 18 by graduation. A high school diploma or GED and photo ID are required. Students must have good eyesight or wear corrective lenses.
  • Graduation requirements: 910 hours
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education

About the Program:

Last on this list of trade schools in Arkansas is the Arkansas Welding Academy. Arkansas Welding Academy's primary course is the master pipe and structural welding program. The school also offers OSHA 30 and OSHA 10 courses. The welding program consists of 80 classroom hours and 830 laboratory hours, for a total of 910 hours.

Other Arkansas Trade Schools

Arkansas Beauty College

Ozarka College

University of Arkansas Community College - Rich Mountain

University of Arkansas Community College - Batesville

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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