Best Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

Find out the best trade schools in Pennsylvania, including how much it costs to attend a trade school and potential jobs.

portrait of Bethanny Parker
by Bethanny Parker

Published September 6, 2022

Edited by Kelly Thomas
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Although most students are encouraged to attend college after completing high school, that is not the only path that leads to a stable career. Many Pennsylvania students opt to attend trade schools in Pennsylvania instead of attending college. Trade school programs help prepare students for careers in skilled trades such as welding, plumbing, and electrical work.

One reason students choose a trade school vs. college is the cost. Since most learners complete trade school programs within a year, they are less expensive than earning a college degree. Many trade school students can graduate with little or no debt.

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.

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Trade Jobs and Salaries in Pennsylvania

Not all high-paying jobs require a college education. Many careers, such as truck drivers, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and auto mechanics require only a postsecondary non-degree diploma or certificate at a trade school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these jobs pay a median salary between $46,880 and $48,310 per year.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Driver


LPN


Auto Mechanic

Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

Trade schools typically take less time and money than college degree programs. For example, many cosmetology programs can be completed in less than a year. Trade schools offer programs in welding, electrical work, plumbing, cosmetology, massage therapy, healthcare, and more. Unlike colleges, which require general education classes, trade schools focus solely on applied skills for specific careers.

There are 117 trade schools in Pennsylvania, including two welding trade schools in the state: Philadelphia Technician Training and the Welder Training and Testing Institute. If you are looking for an electrician trade school in Pennsylvania, consider Rosedale Technical College, Penn Commercial, or Orleans Technical College.

Average Cost of Trade School in Pennsylvania

The average total tuition cost of attending a trade school program in Pennsylvania is $16,400. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition and fees for 4-year colleges in Pennsylvania was $15,565 for residents and $42,812 for nonresidents in 2019-2020. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years, so that is $62,260 total for resident tuition.

No matter the program, you will want to consider your potential salary after graduating and how long it will take for the program to pay for itself.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

All students should fill out the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). This form provides all the information the federal government and your school needs to determine how much it can afford to pay. It uses that information to determine whether you qualify for federal student aid and college scholarships and grants.

Many scholarships also require applicants to fill out a form. Most also require transcripts, including your GPA, essays, and letters of recommendation.

Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists’ Association Bailey/Hollister Scholarship


Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) Student Scholarship


Pittsburgh North Optimist Foundation Carl A. Bongiovanni Scholarship


Students must pay the remaining portion of their tuition not covered by scholarships or grants. If you have savings, you can pay upfront. But many students need to borrow money to attend trade schools in Pennsylvania.

Trade school students may be able to finance their education through loans. Students enrolled in accredited trade schools can qualify for federal student loans. Many trade schools also have arrangements with loan companies or offer installment plans through the school.

Accreditations in Pennsylvania

Accreditation assures students they are getting a quality education. Many trade schools are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, the Council on Occupational Education, or the Pennsylvania State Board of Career and Technical Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education.

Choosing an accredited school is important because you might be unable to take the licensing exam in many states if your program isn't accredited. Sometimes programs receive accreditation along with the school. Nursing is one area where you might see programmatic accreditation.

Accrediting agencies check if the school or program meets their education standards in various areas, such as management and administrative operations, admissions policies, student recruiting and advertising, program requirements, and student services.

Apprenticeships in Pennsylvania

Apprenticeships or internships may be a good option if you are considering a skilled trade. Apprentice.org oversees nearly 90% of the apprenticeships offered in Pennsylvania. Apprenticeship programs help people start new careers without accumulating student debt.

Apprentice.org oversees apprenticeship programs for boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, electrical workers, and elevator constructors. The organization also arranges apprenticeships for ironworkers, painters, plasterers, plumbers, and roofers.

In addition to attending trade schools or doing an apprenticeship, many high school students attend vocational education at a career center or vocational high school. These schools often offer programs in auto mechanics, construction, horticulture, culinary arts, and graphic arts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in Pennsylvania

How many trade schools are in Pennsylvania?

There are 117 trade schools in Pennsylvania. Most of them are private schools, but a few are public. The average total tuition cost to attend a trade school in Pennsylvania is $16,401. Many programs also require books and supplies. For some programs, such as welding, the supplies may cost a significant amount.

Trade schools in Pennsylvania offer many different programs, including licensed practical nursing, welding, respiratory care therapy, cosmetology, and diesel mechanics technology. Cosmetology and licensed practical nursing are among the most popular programs.

Is trade school worth the money?

The best way to determine whether a trade school is worth the money is to determine your potential return on investment. You can determine your ROI by subtracting tuition costs from potential earnings. The higher your salary, the less time it will take for your education to pay for itself.

For example, the average cost of a trade school program in Pennsylvania is $16,401, and the median salary for an LPN is $48,070. In one year, LPNs in Pennsylvania would make nearly three times their investment in education based on these figures.

What are the top 3 trade vocational careers?

The top three vocational careers by median annual salary are elevator installer and repairer ($97,860), radiation therapist ($82,790), and web developer ($77,200), according to the BLS. Although trade school programs may be available for all of these programs, many people choose to learn web development through a coding bootcamp.

Coding bootcamps are intensive training programs that typically take three to six months to complete. They usually provide training for a specific career, such as web developer or coder.

Best Pennsylvania Trade Schools

Each trade school program on our list features:

Rankings Methodology:

  • Less than one-year certifications
  • Accreditation
  • Less than 18:1 faculty-to-student ratio
  • Less than $35,000 in tuition costs
  • Over 50% graduation rate

Central Pennsylvania Diesel Institute

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $23,349
  • Location: Liverpool, PA
  • Admission requirements: Proof of high school graduation or GED diploma, 18 and over or parent's permission, high school transcript
  • Graduation requirements: Complete 630 hours of training
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

About the Program:

Central Pennsylvania Diesel Institute's diesel mechanics technology/technician program is designed for flexible students who want to become diesel mechanics. Students learn diesel repair, diagnosis, maintenance, and failure analysis in a shop that mimics real-world conditions.

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Clearfield County Career and Technology Center

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $8,165
  • Location: Clearfield, PA
  • Admission requirements: Fill out the application for the desired program. The truck driver program requires a criminal record check.
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: Pennsylvania State Board of Career and Technical Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.

About the Program:

The Clearfield County Career and Technology Center (CCCTC) offers programs in auto mechanics, carpentry, collision repair, cosmetology, and culinary arts. It also offers diesel equipment maintenance, drafting, electrical occupations, information technology, and masonry. CCCTC's largest program is practical nursing.

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Eastern Center for Arts and Technology

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $18,507
  • Location: Willow Grove, PA
  • Admission requirements: Practical nursing students must be fully vaccinated before the start of class. Applicants must pass a pre-entrance test, the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), with a score of 44% or higher. High school transcripts or GED diploma and scores are required. Students must have access to a computer, internet access, and a printer.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete the program, including clinical hours.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.

About the Program:

Eastern Center for Arts and Technology offers programs in allied health, automotive technology, business and technology professional, collision repair technology, and 12 other disciplines. The school's most popular program is practical nursing, which prepares students to become LPNs.

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European Medical School of Massage

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $20,025
  • Location: Sinking Spring, PA
  • Admission requirements: Must have high school diploma, GED certificate, or equivalent. Must be 18 years old at least one month before class begins. Applicants must submit an essay and pass a basic skills test with a score of at least 80%. Must provide proof of legal US residency and pass a physical exam.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete 786 hours of training
  • Accreditation: Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation

About the Program:

European Medical School of Massage offers a 786-hour training program in medical massage therapy. The program includes courses on anatomy and physiology, medical massage, massage therapy, postural integration/kinesiology, and British sports therapy. It also includes training on pathology, specialty massage modalities, special populations, and Swedish massage therapy.

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Institute of Medical and Business Careers

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: 11,345
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Admission requirements: Must be a high school graduate, homeschool graduate, or possess a GED diploma. Applicants must also pass an entrance evaluation or complete additional work before enrollment.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete the program
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

About the Program:

The Institute of Medical and Business Careers offers programs in business administration, dental assisting, medical assisting, paralegal, and more. The school's biggest program is medical insurance billing and coding. The program lasts about a year and has a 74% job placement rate.

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Mercer County Career Center

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $9,743
  • Location: Mercer, PA
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education, Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools

About the Program:

Most of Mercer County Career Center's vocational programs are for the county's high school students. The school offers 16 different career programs for these students. For adult students, the school offers a practical nursing program and a Class A CDL training program.

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Pennsylvania Gunsmith School

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: $26,352
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Admission requirements: Must submit completed application and application fee, as well as a DD-214 if the applicant has served time in the military. Must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete the 16-month program
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

About the Program:

The Pennsylvania Gunsmith School's master gunsmithing program provides instruction in basic gun repair with more detailed instruction on repairing different types of firearms. Students learn how to do custom work as well. The curriculum covers machine work, bluing and finishing, rebarreling, custom stock-making, and heat treating.

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Precision Manufacturing Institute

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Cost: $20,300
  • Location: Meadville, PA
  • Admission requirements: You must have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a recognized scholastic entrance exam.
  • Graduation requirements: Satisfactory program completion
  • Accreditation: ACCSC

About the Program:

The Precision Manufacturing Institute offers four programs: CNC machinist, CNC operator, electric arc welding, and electromechanical technology. The CNC machinist program teaches machining fundamentals, blueprint reading, set up, and operations. Students also learn how to use MasterCam and SolidWorks.

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South Hills Beauty Academy

  • Type: Private for-profit
  • Cost: 12,050
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Admission requirements: Must have high school diploma or GED certificate, social security number, and driver's license or photo ID.
  • Graduation requirements: Program completion
  • Accreditation: National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

About the Program:

South Hills Beauty Academy offers programs in cosmetology and hair design; mud beauty essentials; esthetics, skincare, and makeup; manicuring and nail design; and an instructor course. The school's most popular program is cosmetology and hair design. This 1,250-hour program teaches students how to care for hair, skin, and nails.

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Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center

  • Type: Public
  • Cost: $5,858
  • Location: Springville, PA
  • Admission requirements: The school has an open admissions policy, but there may be requirements for certain programs.
  • Graduation requirements: Complete program
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education

About the Program:

Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center primarily serves high school students with 11 different career programs. Adults are also permitted to attend these programs as intergenerational students. The school also offers building property maintenance, cosmetology, welding, massage therapy, and commercial driver's license courses for adults.

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Other Notable Pennsylvania Trade Schools

  • All-State Career School-Pittsburgh
  • Altoona Beauty School Inc
  • American Barber and Beauty Academy
  • ASPIRA City College
  • Aviation Institute of Maintenance-Philadelphia
  • Barber and Beauty Academy of Pennsylvania
  • Barber School of Pittsburgh
  • Beaver Falls Beauty Academy
  • Bella Capelli Academy
  • Berks Career & Technology Center
  • Bucks County School of Beauty Culture Inc
  • Butler Beauty Academy
  • Butler Beauty Academy-Kittanning Beauty Academy
  • Butler Beauty Academy-New Castle Beauty Academy
  • Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
  • CDE Career Institute
  • Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology
  • Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit LPN Career
  • Champ's Barber School
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit
  • Commonwealth Technical Institute
  • Cortiva Institute
  • Crawford County Career and Technical Center Practical Nursing Program
  • Delaware County Technical School-Practical Nursing Program
  • DLP Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center
  • Douglas Education Center
  • Empire Beauty School-Lehigh Valley
  • Empire Beauty School-Hanover
  • Empire Beauty School-Harrisburg
  • Empire Beauty School-Lancaster
  • Empire Beauty School-Lebanon
  • Empire Beauty School-Monroeville
  • Empire Beauty School-NE Philadelphia
  • Empire Beauty School-North Hills
  • Empire Beauty School-Pottsville
  • Empire Beauty School-Reading
  • Empire Beauty School-Shamokin Dam
  • Empire Beauty School-Springfield
  • Empire Beauty School-Wyoming Valley
  • Empire Beauty School-York
  • Erie Institute of Technology Inc
  • Falcon Institute of Health and Science
  • Fayette County Career & Technical Institute Practical Nursing Program
  • Fortis Institute-Forty Fort
  • Fortis Institute-Scranton
  • Fountain of Youth Academy of Cosmetology
  • Franklin County Career and Technology Center
  • Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing
  • Great Lakes Institute of Technology
  • Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center
  • Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center
  • Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center
  • Indiana County Technology Center
  • Jean Madeline Aveda Institute
  • Jna Institute of Culinary Arts
  • Johnson College
  • Lancaster County Career and Technology Center
  • Lancaster School of Cosmetology & Therapeutic Bodywork
  • Lansdale School of Business
  • Laurel Business Institute
  • Laurel Technical Institute
  • Laurel Technical Institute
  • Lebanon County Area Vocational Technical School
  • Lenape Technical School Practical Nursing Program
  • Lincoln Technical Institute-Allentown
  • Metro Beauty Academy
  • Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology
  • Miller-Motte College-McCann-Allentown
  • New Castle School of Trades
  • Northern Tier Career Center
  • Orleans Technical College
  • Penn Commercial Business/Technical School
  • Pennco Tech-Bristol
  • Philadelphia Technician Training
  • Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics
  • Premier Barber Institute
  • Prism Career Institute-Philadelphia
  • Professional Academy of Cosmetology
  • Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences
  • Rosedale Technical College
  • Schuylkill Technology Center
  • Somerset County Technology Center
  • South Hills School of Business & Technology
  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
  • The Beauty Institute
  • The Beauty Institute
  • The Beauty Institute-Ambler
  • The Salon Professional Academy-Altoona
  • Triangle Tech Inc-Bethlehem
  • Triangle Tech Inc-Dubois
  • Triangle Tech Inc-Greensburg
  • Triangle Tech Inc-Pittsburgh
  • Triangle Tech Inc-Sunbury
  • UPMC Mercy School of Nursing
  • UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing
  • UPMC St. Margaret School of Nursing
  • Venango County Area Vocational Technical School
  • Vet Tech Institute
  • Welder Training and Testing Institute
  • West Virginia Junior College-United Career Institute
  • Western Area Career & Technology Center
  • Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing
  • Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center Practical Nursing
  • Williamson College of the Trades
  • York County School of Technology-Adult & Continuing Education
  • YTI Career Institute-Altoona
  • YTI Career Institute-York
  • Feature Image: Thana Prasongsin / Moment / Getty Images

    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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