Best Trade Schools in New Jersey

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  • Trade schools are postsecondary institutions that teach specialized skills for a specific trade job.
  • New Jersey is one of the highest-paying states for people employed in a trade job.
  • Students enrolled in trade programs may still be eligible for financial aid, including federal grants, scholarships, and loans.

Although many people pursue higher education, a four-year college degree is not the only way to earn job security or a well-paying career. Some of the fastest-growing occupations only require a certificate or associate degree.

Those who choose a trade career can find highly skilled work with paid ongoing training. Plenty of trade jobs require a year or less of training, allowing people to enter their career field with little to no debt. Because trade jobs are in high demand, especially in New Jersey, many careers pay higher salaries.

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Trade Jobs and Salaries in New Jersey

Out of all the job sectors, New Jersey's trade, transportation, and utility sectors experienced some of the largest employment growth gains between December 2020 and December 2021. The following careers are some of the highest-employed trade jobs in New Jersey that only require postsecondary nondegree education.

Barber

  • Projected employment growth, 2020-2030: 19%
  • Median annual salary (May 2021): $29,680
  • Although the national average salary for barbers is low, the annual mean wage for barbers in New Jersey is much higher, at$41,270. Many barbers can finish training in less than a year.

Dental Assistant

  • Projected employment growth, 2020-2030: 11%
  • Median annual salary (May 2021): $38,660
  • In New Jersey, people without formal education or training can become unregistered dental assistants. Unregistered dental assistants can complete basic tasks under the supervision of a dentist. Those who complete a dental assistant program at an accredited school and pass a state exam can become registered dental assistants and earn more.

Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse

  • Projected employment growth, 2020-2030: 9%
  • Median annual salary (May 2021): $48,070
  • You can earn your LPN or LVN credential in as little as seven months, although many programs average around a year. Continuing your education and advancing your degree in nursing is quite easy. Those who earn an LPN or LVN credential and wish to become registered nurses can find numerous LPN to BSN options.

HVAC Mechanics and Installer

  • Projected employment growth, 2020-2030: 5%
  • Median annual salary (May 2021): $48,630
  • New Jersey is considered one of the top-ranking states for HVAC salaries. In May 2021, the annual mean wage for HVAC workers in New Jersey was $68,460. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the median wage for teachers in New Jersey, a career that requires at least a bachelor's degree, was not much higher, at $70,815.

Ship Engineer

  • Projected employment growth, 2020-2030: 19%
  • Median annual salary (May 2021): $96,910
  • For workers in the United States, the annual mean wage in 2021 was $58,260. Ship engineers not only make more than that, but the average salary for ship engineers in New Jersey is higher than the national average pay for ship engineers in the country.

Trade Schools in New Jersey

Trade schools, sometimes referred to as technical colleges, use hands-on learning to train students for a skilled trade career in a postsecondary setting. Trade schools are highly specialized, which means students primarily take courses that apply only to their focus of study and do not take general courses.

When you think of trades, your mind may jump to strenuous labor like welding, HVAC installation and repair, and carpentry. However, you can find trade jobs in various fields, including healthcare and cosmetology. Positions like dental hygienist, hair stylist, and radiation therapist are all trade jobs.

Trade careers are in high demand, and many offer competitive salaries without the debt a bachelor's degree can cause. Graduates from New Jersey trade schools earn an average salary of $57,000. New Jersey even offers tuition-free trade school options for students who demonstrate a financial need.

Average Cost of Trade School in New Jersey

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of tuition and fees for an in-state four-year degree at a public university was $9,349 for the 2019-2020 academic year. In the same year, the in-state cost of tuition for a two-year college was only $3,377.

In New Jersey, the average cost of college is higher than the national average. A four-year degree costs an average of $14,360, whereas a two-year program is $4,780.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in New Jersey

Depending on the program, full-time students enrolled in a trade school may be eligible for financial aid through FAFSA. Students can find scholarship opportunities specific to studying at a trade school. New Jersey also has grant and scholarship programs set aside for students studying at vocational schools.

Scholarships for New Jersey Programs

Governor's Industry Vocations Scholarship

  • Eligibility: Women and minorities who have an annual household income under $60,000 and are enrolled at an eligible New Jersey institution.
  • Award amount: Up to $2,000 a year towards tuition costs
  • Deadline: Must submit by New Jersey FAFSA deadlines (September 15th for incoming students, April 15th for following fall semesters)
  • Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be citizens, eligible non-citizens, or be eligible to file the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application.

NJUA Trade and Vocational School Scholarship

  • Eligibility: High school seniors who are legal citizens and residents of New Jersey are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants need to demonstrate a financial need as well as academic excellence.
  • Award amount: Up to $6,000 and no more than $1,500 per school year towards tuition only
  • Deadline: May 2023
  • Children of employees for New Jersey Utilities Association (NJUA) companies are not eligible to apply for this scholarship.

The Builders League of South Jersey Scholarship Foundation

  • Eligibility: High school seniors who are residents of southern New Jersey are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants must be attending school to study real estate or a construction-related field like electrical, plumbing, and construction management.
  • Award amount: Scholarship totals vary and may be applied towards tuition only
  • Deadline: April 2023
  • Applicants must attend school in or live in the following counties: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland. The scholarship is awarded as a check written directly to the college of attendance. Students may reapply each year.

Accreditations in New Jersey

When researching schools, you should research their accreditation status. A school that is accredited has gone through the voluntary process of having an agency evaluate its program and confirm the school meets the educational requirements and rigor for accreditation. Colleges and trade schools can be accredited.

Accredited schools are compared to similar programs across the United States. The most important thing to consider is that credits from an accredited college will only transfer to other accredited schools. Trade schools usually hold national accreditation.

Understanding each school's accreditation status can help you make the best decision for furthering your education. Depending on the field, you may not be able to sit for the licensing exam if your program isn't accredited.

Apprenticeships in New Jersey

Trade school graduates in New Jersey have the option of pursuing an apprenticeship program. Unlike internships, apprenticeships are paying, on-the-job training programs that follow a formal structure. Participants learn from experts in their field while gaining real-life experience working in a specialized career path.

High school students interested in pursuing a trade job can attend a vocational high school program before pursuing an apprenticeship. High schools may offer vocational programs either within their school building or by partnering with a local trade school. Students typically graduate with a high school diploma.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in New Jersey

How many trade schools are in New Jersey?

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Students interested in attending a trade school have several options in New Jersey. According to the NCES, New Jersey has over 70 trade schools. If you factor in community colleges that offer trade programs to that list, New Jersey has more than 90 schools.

What trade school jobs pay the most in New Jersey?

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Several trade school jobs provide competitive salaries. New Jersey continues to rank high in pay for those working in trades. In 2021, New Jersey was ranked 5th in the nation as one of the highest-paying states for electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers.

According to New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the highest-paying trade school job in the state is diagnostic medical sonographer. In 2018, the average salary for sonographers in New Jersey was $77,100.

Is college or trade school better?

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Both colleges and trade schools offer excellent educational opportunities. One is not necessarily better than the other. However, one may be a better option for you, depending on your interests, strengths, and professional goals.

A trade school offers a very specialized study in a specific skill and does not require you to take general core subjects, making trade school programs shorter and less expensive than a college degree. On the other hand, a college degree may be more versatile in the job field since you are taking a wider variety of courses.

Is it hard to get into trade school?

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Typically, the requirements for applying to trade school are less strenuous than applying to a four-year degree program. Most require a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. Some programs may have additional requirements like experience working in the field.

Some trade school programs are more competitive than others. If the program is particularly popular or only accepts a certain number of applicants each year, the trade school may be more difficult to get into.

Best New Jersey 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

Artistic Academy of Hair Design

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $13,164
  • Location: Morris Plains, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Admissions requirements include completing a pre-admissions questionnaire, a formal interview, and a campus tour. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED.
  • Graduation requirements: Students must complete all required training hours by the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology for their specific program, as well as any clinical hours. Students must pass any tests or practicum exams and pay all tuition and fees.
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS)

About the Program:

Artistic Academy of Hair Design provides classrooms that mimic a professional industry setting. The school provides students with a kit of professional tools and textbooks upon enrollment. Programs include full-time cosmetology and aesthetics and part-time aesthetics. Participants can graduate in as little as five months. All graduates receive employment counseling, and over 80% of the last graduating class found employment.

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CAPRI Institute of Hair Design Paramus

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $8,495
  • Location: Paramus, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Interested applicants must fill out an application. CAPRI does not have an application fee, and they accept students without a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Non-citizens are able to apply.
  • Graduation requirements: In order to graduate, students must complete all coursework in their specific program of study, as well as any required training hours required by the school or New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology.
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences (NACCAS) and New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology

About the Program:

CAPRI offers several programs, including cosmetology, barbering, and manicuring. Students can enroll full-time or part-time. CAPRI offers day and night classes, as well as schedules that accommodate parents. Choose between five New Jersey campuses and graduate in as little as five months. Capri provides a Spanish language option at their Clifton campus. Graduates have access to immediate lifetime career placement assistance and counseling.

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Christine Valmy International School of Esthetics & Cosmetology

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $19,791
  • Location: Pine Brook, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Must be 17 years or older to apply and hold a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED. Applicants must also complete an interview at the school.
  • Graduation requirements: Students must complete all required courses, tests, and practical assignments to complete the program according to state requirements. Students must also pass a final comprehensive written and practical exam and complete an exit interview, as well as exit paperwork. All fees must be paid before graduating.
  • Accreditation: NACCAS, New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology, and the Council on Occupational Education (COE)

About the Program:

The Christine Valmy International School of Esthetics & Cosmetology offers programs in skin care, cosmetology, and instructor training. Students can enroll part-time or full-time and have access to night classes. Some programs are offered in Spanish. Classes average a 16:1 ratio. Students have access to a career services counselor as well as an alumni resources center that includes a virtual job board. Continuing education opportunities are available through advanced courses and education seminars.

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Fortis Institute-Wayne

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $18,055
  • Location: Wayne, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must be high school graduates or have earned an equivalent degree. Interested students must fill out a personal information sheet and complete an interview along with their application.
  • Graduation requirements: Graduation requirements vary by program of study, but all students must complete and pass the required coursework.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

About the Program:

Fortis-Wayne offers three dental programs: dental assisting, dental hygiene, and expanded functions dental assisting. Students have access to career resources advisors as well as career job boards. Fortis provides hands-on coursework with small class sizes. Some coursework may be available online.

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Healthcare Training Institute

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $5,940
  • Location: Union, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Prospective students must be 18 by the start of their first class and hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Applicants must pay a $25 application fee and meet for an individual interview. Specific programs may require additional documentation.
  • Graduation requirements: Coursework varies by program of study, but all students must complete and pass the required coursework in order to graduate. Upon graduation, students can register to take any necessary licensing exams.
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)

About the Program:

The Healthcare Training Institute trains students in a variety of medical programs, including diagnostic medical sonographer, phlebotomy technician, and medical billing specialist. The students can access the same technology used in medical facilities and request additional one-on-one training. In 2020, 100% of students graduated on time. If there is extra space, graduates can even return to the school to refresh their skills.

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HoHoKus School of Trade and Technical Sciences

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $13,646
  • Location: Paterson, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Applicants must complete an admissions evaluation for consideration and interview with an admission representative. Students must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent degree.
  • Graduation requirements: Must complete and pass all required coursework.
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

About the Program:

Students enrolled in the HoHoKus School of Trades and Technical Sciences can study various vocational subjects, including welding. Students can earn a welding diploma in as little as six months. Students who enroll in evening courses can graduate in 12 months. Graduates are eligible for American Welding Society certifications.

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Mobile Technical Training

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $11,008
  • Location: South Hackensack, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Interested students must speak with an admissions representative and complete an interview along with an application. Applicants must be 17 years or older and hold a high school diploma or equivalent degree.
  • Graduation requirements: Students must complete and pass all necessary coursework for their field of study. Graduates will have met all requirements to sit for the MECP certification exam.
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

About the Program:

At Mobile Technical Training, students receive hands-on training with a flexible class schedule, free tutoring, and small class sizes. Many classes only allow a maximum of 14 students. Graduates have access to learning resources and refresher courses after graduation, as well as job placement assistance. Graduates can even receive technical support. Programs include mobile electronic installation, vinyl wrapping, automotive detailing, and window tinting. The mobile electronic installation program had a job placement rate of 100%.

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PB Cosmetology Education Centre

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,862
  • Location: Gloucester, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Interested students must be 17 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Applicants must tour the school, fill out an application, and complete an interview with an admissions representative.
  • Graduation requirements: Students must complete all required hours and coursework in the program. Program requirements align with the New Jersey State Board Licensing Exam content.
  • Accreditation: NACCAS

About the Program:

Students at PB Cosmetology Education Centre receive traditional instruction as well as hands-on experience in a student salon where they can practice and demonstrate their skills in cosmetology, barbering, and skin care. Upon graduation, all students have access to job placement services and learn how to create a professional portfolio and resume.

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Rizzieri Aveda School for Beauty and Wellness

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  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $17,787
  • Location: Voorhees, New Jersey
  • Admission requirements: Along with completing an application and paying the $25 application fee, prospective students who are at least 17 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED certificate must complete a campus tour with an admissions team member and complete a career planning session. Applicants must also provide a letter of intent and complete an entrance exam.
  • Graduation requirements: Students must finish all required hours and coursework in the program in order to graduate. Program requirements align with the New Jersey State Board Licensing Exam content.
  • Accreditation: NACCAS

About the Program:

Students at the Rizzieri Aveda School can choose between programs in cosmetology, barbering, and skin care. Advanced certificates are also available in lash technician, medical aesthetics, and nail technician. The school has a 99% licensure rate and a 69% placement rate.

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Other Notable New Jersey 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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