Best Trade Schools in Illinois

Illinois trade schools train graduates for in-demand careers. Learn more about vocational education in Illinois and your financial aid options.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published September 2, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
Share this Article
Best Trade Schools in Illinois
Image Credit: joe daniel price | Moment | Getty Images


Trade schools provide career-focused training. Vocational programs provide trade school graduates with hands-on skills that transition directly into the workforce.

Attending an Illinois trade school offers several benefits. Many professionals can increase their salary with vocational training. Trade programs can offer students reduced debt, career-ready skills, and high-salary potential.

www.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?

Our guide covers trade jobs, Illinois trade schools, and financial aid opportunities. We also list some of the best trade schools in Illinois to help prospective students find the right fit for their career goals.

Trade Jobs and Salaries in Illinois

Trade school graduates can find work in well-paying fields that employ many workers. This section introduces trade jobs in Illinois with some of the highest employment rates.

Automotive Service Technicians

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

Motorcycle mechanics

Insurance appraisers

Trade Schools in Illinois

Trade schools provide career-focused training that takes less time than a degree. At Illinois trade schools, students can train for careers in auto mechanics, allied healthcare, the culinary arts, or cosmetology.

With over 100 trade schools in Illinois, students have several options for choosing a vocational program. Specialized trade schools offer focused courses of study. Students can also attend a community college and enroll in a vocational program. Community colleges generally offer the most affordable route to vocational training.

After attending a trade school, graduates can pursue careers in their field. Many trade schools connect students with apprenticeship programs or provide career services to connect with local employers.

Average Cost of Trade School in Illinois

Trade schools provide career-focused training that takes less time than a degree. At Illinois trade schools, students can train for careers in auto mechanics, allied healthcare, the culinary arts, or cosmetology.

With over 100 trade schools in Illinois, students have several options for choosing a vocational program. Specialized trade schools offer focused courses of study. Students can also attend a community college and enroll in a vocational program. Community colleges generally offer the most affordable route to vocational training.

After attending a trade school, graduates can pursue careers in their field. Many trade schools connect students with apprenticeship programs or provide career services to connect with local employers.

Average Cost of Trade School in Illinois

The cost of trade school in Illinois varies depending on the program and school type. Public community colleges charge the lowest tuition rates. 

In Illinois, community college students pay $4,000-$6,000 per year in tuition and fees, according to the Illinois Students Assistance Commission. Midwest Technical Institute estimates that trade school costs $5,000-$15,000.

In comparison, the state's public universities cost $13,000-$20,000 per year, totaling up to $80,000 for a four-year bachelor's degree.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in Illinois

Students may qualify for several types of financial aid, including grants and scholarships for trade schools. This section introduces some financial aid opportunities for Illinois students.

Military Grants for College

The Imagine America Foundation offers a $1,000 grant for career education programs. Active-duty, reservist, honorably discharged, and retired veterans of any U.S. service branch qualify. The grant covers training in automotive, medical, information technology, and other vocational fields.

Illinois AMVETS Trade School Scholarship

The Illinois AMVETS Trade School Scholarship awards a $1,000 scholarship to a current high school student in Illinois. Applicants must be the child or grandchild of a veteran or active-duty servicemember. The scholarship requires an essay and sets an annual deadline of March 1.

City of Chicago CSBG Scholarship

The CSBG Scholarship offers $1,000-$5,000 scholarships for low-income Chicago residents. The scholarship covers vocational training programs. Applicants submit their information in the spring to receive a scholarship for the fall semester. The city of Chicago also provides information on other financial aid sources.

Accreditations in Illinois

Vocational learners should always choose an accredited program. In Illinois, many trade schools hold accreditation from national organizations like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Council on Occupational Education.

An accredited certificate or degree helps graduates qualify for financial aid and pursue their professional goals. In some fields, candidates must attend an accredited program to sit for licensing exams or receive a professional certification.

Prospective students should check the school's accreditation using the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Apprenticeships in Illinois

Apprenticeship programs help learners gain hands-on experience. Many trade schools incorporate apprenticeship opportunities. Students can also apply for apprenticeships after a vocational program. The Illinois Department of Commerce provides information on the 515 registered apprenticeships in Illinois.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in Illinois

How many trade schools are in Illinois?

Illinois has over 100 trade schools and 48 community colleges offering vocational training programs. Students benefit from the many vocational school options in Illinois. Many trade schools specialize in cosmetology, automotive technology, healthcare, or other vocational fields.

Some schools offer programs in multiple areas. For example, many community colleges provide vocational certificates and degrees in several fields. These programs train graduates for careers in vocational fields.

How old do you have to be to go to trade school in Illinois?

Most Illinois trade schools set a minimum age of 16 to attend. Some may require students to be 18. Many of the best trade schools in Illinois require applicants to have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

For example, many trade schools admit students with a GED certificate. Because each trade school sets its own requirements, students should review the application process and regulations for their prospective schools.

What is the highest paying trade school job?

The highest-paying trade jobs in Illinois include opportunities in several fields. Healthcare professions, including radiation therapy and dental hygiene, report high salaries for trade school graduates. Diagnostic medical sonographers and respiratory therapists also earn high salaries. Electricians and plumbers also report high earnings.

Additional trade school jobs that rank among the highest-paid include elevator repairer, web developer, wind turbine technician, IT technician, and legal assistant.

What trade job is in the highest demand in Illinois?

According to Crain's Chicago Business, the highest-demand trade jobs include elevator mechanic, radiation therapist, diagnostic medical sonographer, electrician, and plumber. These trade jobs report projected job growth of over 9% in the next decade, slightly faster than average.

Other careers on the list include respiratory therapist, HVAC technician, and web developer. Vocational education programs train students for careers in these fields. Trade schools emphasize hands-on learning that prepares students for specific jobs.

Best Illinois Trade Schools

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

How We Rank Schools

Rankings Methodology:

CAAN Academy of Nursing

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Cost: $20,960
  • Location: Matteson, Illinois

The CAAN Academy of Nursing offers programs for practical nurses and registered nurses. The program reports a 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate in four out of the past eight years. CAAN also reports a 100% job placement rate for licensed graduates. The academy holds accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

Visit School Page


Capri Beauty College

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $8,657
  • Location: Oak Forest, Illinois

Founded in 1960, Capri Beauty College reports a 100% licensure rate for its graduates. The college offers a comprehensive cosmetology program. Capri also provides a list of scholarship opportunities for students. The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences accredits the college.

Visit School Page


Estelle Medical Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $8,800
  • Location: Skokie, Illinois

At the Estelle Medical Academy, learners enroll in massage therapy, medical assisting, and vocational English language programs. Applicants work with an admission representative and financial aid advisor to enroll in the program. The academy holds accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

Visit School Page


Rosel School of Cosmetology

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $5,932
  • Location: Niles, Illinois

The Rosel School of Cosmetology offers programs in cosmetology, esthetics, massage therapy, and nail technology. Learners can also train as an instructor. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. The school holds accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences.

Visit School Page


National Latino Education Institute

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Cost: $18,558
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois

The National Latino Education Institute trains students for careers in healthcare and business. Programs include bilingual certified medical assistant, medical office specialist, and business development professional. NLEI also offers employment services for students. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools accredits the institute.

Visit School Page


Steven Papageorge Hair Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $14,921
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois

Located in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, the Steven Papageorge Hair Academy offers classes starting every month. The academy's programs focus on cosmetology to train learners as hair stylists and beauty professionals. Students can attend full-time, part-time, or evening programs.

Visit School Page


Trenz Beauty Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $12,542
  • Location: Calumet City, Illinois

With English and Spanish-language programs, Trenz Beauty Academy prioritizes accessibility. The academy offers cosmetology, hair braiding, esthetics, and nail technology programs. Enrolled students can submit the FAFSA to apply for federal financial aid programs.

Visit School Page


Tricoci University of Beauty Culture-Glendale Heights

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $17,590
  • Location: Glendale Heights, Illinois

At the Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, students enroll in cosmetology, esthetics, barber, and nail technology programs. The university also offers instructor training programs. Prospective students submit an online application and complete an interview and campus tour. The university also offers beauty scholarships for students.

Visit School Page


Universal Spa Training Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $18,785
  • Location: Downers Grove, Illinois

Chicagoland's Universal Spa Training Academy reports a 94% licensure rate and over 2,000 graduates. The academy offers medical aesthetics, massage therapy, and instructor training programs. Learners can also participate in continuing education programs. The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences accredits the academy.

Visit School Page


University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $12,215
  • Location: Downers Grove, Illinois

The University of Aesthetics and Cosmetology offers programs to become a licensed cosmetologist, aesthetician, or instructor in Illinois. Prospective applicants can find a list of scholarship opportunities on the site. The school holds accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Arts & Sciences.

Visit School Page

Other Notable Illinois 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.

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.