Best Trade Schools in North Carolina

Trade schools in North Carolina train students for technical careers. Learn more about the state's 10 best schools.
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  • Trade schools in North Carolina prepare students for careers that pay above the U.S. median annual salary.
  • The best trade schools in North Carolina connect learners with financial aid opportunities.
  • Top trade schools offer online, hybrid, and on-campus programs.

Over 10 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in North Carolina along with other top employers. These companies offer positions in the state's key industries, including automotive, trucking, and heavy machinery plus biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Individuals interested in technical jobs can explore top trade schools in North Carolina.

The best trade schools in North Carolina feature career-focused programs in different disciplines, including automotive repair, healthcare, and business. Others focus on a single profession, such as cosmetology. All trade schools help students train for a new job in 1-2 years.

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Trade schools in North Carolina feature many benefits compared to traditional four-year schools, including affordable tuition and programs aligned with the state's fastest-growing industries.

Trade Jobs and Salaries in North Carolina

The best trade schools in North Carolina feature programs preparing students for high-paying or in-demand careers, such as air traffic controller, CDL driver, and lab technician. Recent graduates may make less than the median salary figures reported below.

Air Traffic Controller

  • Projected employment growth: 4%
  • Median Salary: $129,750
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that air traffic controllers must hold an associate’s or bachelor's and complete a Federal Aviation Administration training class. A bachelor's lets some professionals advance rapidly and earn a salary at or above the average.

CDL Driver

  • Projected employment growth: 6%
  • Median salary: $48,310
  • Entry-level CDL drivers earn a certificate or diploma taking 3-6 months. This specialized training qualifies them for a commercial driver's license. These professionals advance their career with further training in hauling hazardous materials.

Lab Technician

  • Projected employment growth: 11%
  • Median salary: $57,800
  • Some of the best trade schools in North Carolina train students for this career in just two years. Trade schools offer lab technician certificates. However, advancement requires professionals to earn an associate or bachelor's in laboratory technology. These programs emphasize coursework in microbiology and chemistry.

Trade Schools in North Carolina

Skilled trades refer to jobs requiring specialized training from trade or vocational schools. Job opportunities exist in different career fields, such as industry, construction, and service. Some skilled trades like welding offer a median salary exceeding what the typical U.S. worker makes.

North Carolina provides residents with dozens of trade schools and unique programs, including one dedicated to the maintenance and repair of NASCAR racing cars offered by the Universal Technical Institute.

Average Cost of Trade School in North Carolina

Prospective students must consider the cost and return on investment (ROI) when comparing trade schools in North Carolina. For example, in-state students at Forsyth Tech pay only $76 per credit as of June 2022. Out-of-state learners pay over three times as much.

Compare these figures to the tuition students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pay for a bachelor's degree. In-state undergraduates spend $223 per credit, and out-of-state learners pay $890. Trade school students save significantly on their education compared to undergraduate students.

Trade school students may spend less tuition, but they should still compare the ROI of a trade school education to a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, the average worker with a bachelor's degree in 2019 earned $64,896. The average professional in the trades made only $44,030, reports Ziprecruiter.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in North Carolina

Trade schools in North Carolina help students access private and federal financial aid options. Learners who work should also explore whether their employer sponsors a tuition reimbursement incentive program.

Scholarship for Trade Programs

ANSWER Scholarship Endowment

  • Who qualifies for the scholarship: Women ages 25 and older caring for at least one K-12-grade child
  • What/how much it covers: $2,500-$5,000
  • Deadline: March 1
  • Other important information: The ANSWER Scholarship Endowment provides recipients with more than funding. They also benefit from a mentorship program. The scholarship renews as long as learners maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and attend two annual fundraisers.

Scholarship for Automotive Programs

Southern Automotive Women's Forum (SAWF) Scholarship

  • Who qualifies for the scholarship: Women in a STEM-related major maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA
  • What/how much it covers: $1,000-$5,000
  • Deadline: March 20
  • Other important information: The SAWF Scholarship prefers applicants preparing for a career in the automotive industry. Applicants may study full or part time. Recipients attend the SAWF annual conference.

Grant for Massage Therapy Programs

Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) Research Grant

  • Who qualifies for the grant: Practicing professionals who submit a research proposal
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $30,000
  • Deadline: February 1
  • Other important information: The MTF awards 50% of the grant when recipients sign a contract. The foundation gives recipients up to one year to perform research and submit a final report.

Federal Grants for Trade Programs

Federal Work-Study

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduate and graduate students with financial need
  • What/how much it covers: Varies by student
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Participants may work full or part time. Job opportunities include those on and off campus. Federal Work-Study pays undergraduates by the hour.

Pell Grant

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduates with financial need earning their first degree
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $6,900/year
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Funding depends on students' FAFSA results and whether they study full or part time. The government awards funding in two payments.

Supplementary Education Opportunity Grant

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduates with exceptional financial need
  • What/how much it covers: $100-$4,000/year
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Undergraduates who exhaust other federal aid turn to this opportunity to fill in their financial aid gap. The federal government pays schools and not the student. Recipients renew the grant by submitting the FAFSA annually.

Companies with Tuition Reimbursement Incentive Programs (TRIPs)

Chipotle

  • Who qualifies: All employees
  • What/how much it covers: Up to 100% tuition in some cases
  • Deadline: None
  • Other important information: Chipotle employees can explore more than 75 fully-funded undergraduate programs. Participants also receive specialized academic and career coaching.

For more information on paying for trade school, visit Vocational Education Financial Aid.

Accreditations in North Carolina

Find out whether the trade schools on your shortlist hold accreditation from relevant organizations, such as the state board of education and accreditation agencies. Schools without accreditation may not provide learners with a quality educational experience. Other downsides of attending one of these institutions include not qualifying for a job or licensing exams.

Start researching the best trade schools in North Carolina by reviewing these top accrediting bodies:

Apprenticeships in North Carolina

Some workers prepare for a career by completing an apprenticeship. North Carolina community colleges provide the hands-on training learners need to start one. Graduates enter an apprenticeship and work under journeymen and masters.

North Carolina's vocational high schools provide rigorous career and technical education. This education helps learners excel in a trade school or apprenticeship. Earning a high school diploma lets graduates apply to an associate or bachelor's program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in North Carolina

How many technical colleges are there in North Carolina?

North Carolina hosts 71 trade schools featuring 77 campuses throughout the state. Residents don't have to travel far to attend one, as 67 cities feature a trade school. Some of these schools offer online and hybrid programs, an attractive option for prospective learners living in rural areas.

The large number of trade schools in North Carolina means applicants must weigh their options carefully. Pay close attention to a school's tuition, offered programs, graduate outcomes, and student support services.

Other ways to narrow a search include considering personal preferences and career goals. Prospective learners interested in healthcare jobs benefit from many trade schools dedicated solely to this career field.

What trade school makes the most money?

Different trade schools exist, so learners interested in a high-paying career should research their state's top-paying trade professions. As of June 2022, power plant operators, elevator mechanics, electric linemen, and construction managers make an average yearly salary ranging from $73,500-$103,000. People working toward one of these careers enroll in a trade school with many STEM-related programs.

According to Ziprecruiter, North Carolina ranks last in a nationwide ranking of trade salaries. Experienced professionals find the best-paying jobs by relocating to Raleigh, Concord, Jacksonville, or another large metropolitan area. Other options include moving out of state or returning to school to earn an associate’s or bachelor's degree.

What trade can I learn at 40?

Many workers 40 years of age and above can relaunch their career by learning a trade. Top options include HVAC technician, solar photovoltaic installer, and welder. These fast-growing careers typically provide workers with on-the-job training and a good salary.

Review financial and family obligations before starting a career in the trades. While apprenticeship programs pay a salary, it may not be enough to pay a mortgage and raise a family.

Consider your physical health before selecting a trade. HVAC and welding jobs may not appeal to workers with joint problems or other medical conditions.

Best North Carolina 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

Blue Ridge Community College

  • Public non-profit
  • Cost: $76 per credit (in state); $268 per credit (out of state)
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Flat Rock, Brevard, Hendersonville; online
  • Admission/application reqs: Official application; FAFSA; placement testing
  • Graduation reqs: Some students take development classes before enrolling in an academic program.
  • Accreditations: North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges

BRCC enrolls more than 2000 students on its three North Carolina campuses, and some learners take classes online. The college also features continuing education programs for working adults in different industries. Many North Carolina residents enroll with the plan to transfer to a four-year college or university.

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Center for Massage

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $8,000 total
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Ashville
  • Admission/application reqs: Enrollment application; $50 fee
  • Graduation reqs: Six-hundred-hour training program
  • Accreditations: COMTA; BMBT

Center for Massage offers a 600-hour training program qualifying graduates for industry certification. The immersive curriculum requires learners to master many massage techniques and apply feedback. Students graduate in just six months by taking classes during regular working hours or evenings.

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College of Wilmington

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $17,390 annual tuition
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Wilmington
  • Admission/application reqs: Online application
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining good academic progress
  • Accreditations: BMBT; North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners

College of Wilmington offers three core programs in cosmetology, therapeutic massage, and instructor training. The latter prepares students for a cosmetology instructor license. The school connects learners with financial needs with many private scholarship opportunities.

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Gwinnett College

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: Tuition varies by program.
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Raleigh
  • Admission/application reqs: High school or GED diploma
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining good academic progress
  • Accreditations: ACCET; North Carolina Community College System Office of Proprietary Schools Licensing and Services

Gwinnett's North Carolina campus offers career-aligned associate degrees and diplomas in massage therapy, medical assisting, medical office administration, and medical billing and coding. Massage therapy degree-seekers study deep tissue massage, reflexology, and anatomy and physiology. Gwinnett also offers continuing education classes in CPR and massage therapy.

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Halifax Community College

  • Public non-profit
  • Cost: $76/credit in state; $268/credit out of state
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Weldon; online; hybrid
  • Admission/application reqs: Career assessment; official application; high school transcripts or GED certificate; placement testing
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA
  • Accreditations: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

HCC offers its nearly 1,000 learners a low 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students select among many one-year certificates and two-year associate degrees. HCC accepts applications for institutional financial aid programs three times annually.

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Miller-Motte College-Fayetteville

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $25,240 annually in tuition and fees
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Fayetteville; online
  • Admission/application reqs: Meeting with an admissions counselor; high school or GED diploma
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 2.0 GPA; exit interview; no outstanding student balance
  • Accreditations: North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges

Miller-Motte Fayetteville prepares students for a career in 18-24 months. Top programs include business studies, medical billing and coding, and criminal justice. Many classes feature professors with extensive industry experience.

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Montgomery Community College

  • Public non-profit
  • Cost: $76/credit in state; $268/credit out of state
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Troy
  • Admission/application reqs: Official application; transcripts; placement testing
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining a minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Accreditations: State Board of Education Department of Community Colleges

MCC educates over 400 undergraduates on its Troy, North Carolina campus. Academic programs include AA and AS degrees for transfer, career and technical programs in many areas, and continuing education classes. Federal and institutional financial aid programs require FAFSA results.

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MyComputerCareer-Raleigh

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: Varies by program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Raleigh; online
  • Admission/application reqs: Career evaluation; official transcripts
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining good academic progress
  • Accreditations: ACCET

MyComptuerCareer offers many certificate programs, such as information technology security and administration, cybersecurity specialist, and cybersecurity engineer. Learners may also earn an AAS in network administration and cybersecurity. These and other academic opportunities qualify students for professional certification.

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No Grease Barber School

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $19,270 in tuition and fees
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Charlotte
  • Admission/application reqs: Official application; high school or GED diploma
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 80% on all assignments
  • Accreditations: NACCAS

No Grease Barber School helps students enter a new profession in 12-18 months. Learners complete over 1,500 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on experiences. Assignments assess students' technical skills, creative expression, and human relations techniques.

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Southeastern College-Charlotte

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $13,510/year in tuition and fees
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Charlotte
  • Admission/application reqs: High school or GED diploma; placement testing
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 2.0 GPA; exit paperwork
  • Accreditations: ACCSC

SEC offers students career-aligned certificates, including diagnostic medical sonography, medical assisting, and professional clinical massage therapy. Learners in these and other programs improve their resumes by completing a clinical internship. Students benefit from extensive on-campus and online library services, as well.

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Other Notable North Carolina 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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