Best Trade Schools in Tennessee

Many well-paying jobs in Tennessee do not require a degree. Learn more about how trade schools in Tennessee help prepare learners for new careers.
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  • Trade schools in Tennessee offer programs in various fields.
  • Tennessee trade schools help students enter the workforce quickly.
  • Learners may qualify for state and federal financial aid programs.
  • Some trade professions pay more than the U.S. median salary.

Tennessee added over 160,000 jobs in 2021, reports the state's department of economic and community development. The state also has a low 4% unemployment rate, only slightly higher than the national average.

People exploring skills-focused educational opportunities can consider the best trade schools in Tennessee. The state's dozens of trade schools feature programs for different career paths.

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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Tennessee trade schools may feature advantages over traditional four-year colleges, such as lower tuition and an emphasis on hands-on training. Use the information in this guide to explore the state's trade schools in depth.

Trade Jobs and Salaries in Tennessee

Trade schools in Tennessee prepare students for one of many well-paying jobs, such as CDL driver, licensed professional nurse (LPN), and medical assistant. These and other lucrative positions require only a postsecondary non-degree education.

CDL Driver

  • Projected employment growth: 6%
  • Average salary: $48,310
  • CDL drivers earn about 3,000 more than the median salary of the typical U.S. worker. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects only average growth for this profession.

Licensed Professional Nurse

  • Projected employment growth: 9%
  • Average salary: $48,070
  • The BLS projects the need for LPNs to grow faster than average from 2020-2030. These professionals also make approximately $3,000 more annually than the median salary for U.S. workers.

Medical Assistant

  • Projected employment growth: 18%
  • Average salary: $37,190
  • Although the BLS projects strong growth in the medical assistant field, these workers earn much less than the U.S. median salary. However, medical assistants may advance their salary potential by earning certifications or an associate degree.

Trade Schools in Tennessee

Trade schools in Tennessee prepare students for an in-demand job not requiring a college education. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects strong job growth for nursing assistants, HVAC technicians, and medical records technicians. Trade schools prepare learners for these and other professions through extensive hands-on training.

Tennessee trade schools appeal to people with a wide range of professional interests. Residents living in and around Nashville don't need to look far to find a top cosmetology school, as the city features more than a dozen options. Other schools also offer programs preparing students for a job in Nashville's large healthcare industry.

Average Cost of Trade School in Tennessee

Prospective students must consider return on investment (ROI) when comparing trade schools in Tennessee to four-year colleges. Learners attending Tennessee College of Applied Technology in 2021-2022 paid about $4,700 in tuition and fees.

Full-time degree-seekers at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville pay over $11,000 per year in tuition and fees. However, this figure falls well below what top private universities charge. Vanderbilt University undergraduates pay over $58,000 yearly in tuition alone.

Consider salary potential when calculating an education's ROI. In 2020, the average worker with a bachelor's made $64,900 per year. Professionals with only some college earned only $43,320.

Financial Aid for Trade Schools in Tennessee

Students pay for trade school by exploring state scholarships and grants, federal aid, and employers with tuition reimbursement programs. Each option assists learners with reducing student debt. Please use the embedded links to learn the most up-to-date information about each opportunity.

Scholarships for Trade Programs

Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant

  • Who qualifies for the scholarship: TCAT students earning a certificate or diploma
  • What/how much it covers: $2,000/year
  • Deadline: July 1; Nov. 1; March 1
  • Other important information: TCAT students apply for the Wilder-Naifeh Technical Skills Grant by submitting FAFSA results. Out-of-state learners may not apply. Recipients must maintain satisfactory academic progress for the grant to renew.

Tennessee Reconnect Grant

  • Who qualifies for the scholarship: Residents earning a certificate or associate degree
  • What/how much it covers: Varies
  • Deadline: June 30
  • Other important information: The Tennessee Reconnect Grants assist first-time college students. Applicants must take at least six credits per semester to qualify. Recipients must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA for the grant to renew.

American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Vocational Scholarship

  • Who qualifies for the scholarship: APWU members' children or grandchildren
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $3,000
  • Deadline: March 31
  • Other important information: High school seniors apply for the APWU Vocational Scholarship by submitting transcripts and an essay on one of three topics. The scholarship renews twice as long as students maintain a B grade average.

Federal Grants for Trade Programs

Federal Pell Grants

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduates with financial need
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $6,900/year
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Students qualify for Federal Pell Grants if their school's cost of attendance exceeds their expected family contribution (EFC). Learners discover their EFC by submitting the FAFSA annually.

Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduates who exhaust Federal Pell Grants
  • What/how much it covers: $100-$4,000/year
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Not all schools offer this grant. Learners find out if they qualify by submitting the FAFSA. Students who already hold a bachelor's degree may not apply.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

  • Who qualifies: Undergraduates whose parent or guardian died serving in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $6,500
  • Deadline: Varies by school
  • Other important information: Learners 24 and older may not apply for this grant. Interested students apply by submitting the FAFSA. Recipients may use this grant on a career-aligned certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree.

Companies with Tuition Reimbursement Incentive Programs (TRIPs)

Anthem

  • Who qualifies: Full- and part-time employees
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $5,000/year
  • Deadline: None
  • Other important information: Anthem partners with Western Governors University to provide its employees with an affordable online college education. Employees may also qualify for a separate $1,000-$2,000/year scholarship.

Best Buy

  • Who qualifies: Full-time employees
  • What/how much it covers: $3,500/year for undergraduate programs; $5,250/year for graduate programs
  • Deadline: None
  • Other important information: Employees with at least six months of experience may apply for this opportunity. To receive funding, participants must earn a minimum C- grade in undergraduate classes or a minimum B- grade in graduate classes. Other reimbursement opportunities exist for employees working toward a GED certificate.

Geico

  • Who qualifies: All employees
  • What/how much it covers: Up to $5,250/year
  • Deadline: None
  • Other important information: Employees may access this opportunity on their first day on the job. Participants select from online programs at more than 220 schools. Geico also provides academic and financial wellness coaches.

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

Accreditations in Tennessee

Trade schools with accreditation in Tennessee ensure students that programs meet educational standards. Attending an accredited school is often required for apprenticeships or careers. Attending a school without accreditation may lead to negative academic and professional outcomes, such as the inability to obtain certification and disqualification from some career opportunities.

Prospective students can learn more about the agencies that accredit the best trade schools in Tennessee by visiting their official website:

Apprenticeships in Tennessee

The Tennessee state government helps high school graduates explore nearly 400 apprenticeship programs throughout the state. Companies and government organizations run programs in construction, educational services, manufacturing, and other fields. Registered apprenticeship programs let workers without a trade school education learn, work, and earn money.

The Tennessee Department of Education offers high school students career and technical education (CTE) in 16 career fields, including advanced manufacturing, finance, and human services. Traditional high schools feature CTE classes in these and other subjects. Learners take these classes alongside their school's college-preparation curriculum.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Schools in Tennessee

Is Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) a vocational school?

Founded by the Tennessee Board of Regents, TCAT features vocational programs on campuses throughout the state. The college offers learners full- and part-time vocational certificates and diplomas. Students take classes during the day or in the evenings.

Programs vary by TCAT campus. Learners studying in Nashville select from 20 programs that include administrative office technology, building construction technology, and early childhood education. The school also features healthcare-aligned programs in practical nursing and phlebotomy technology.

TCAT offers more than career-aligned certificates and diplomas for learners wanting to start a new job. The school partners with Tennessee businesses to provide employees with continuing education opportunities.

What are the most common trade schools?

Tennessee's most common trade schools feature programs in one or more employment areas. Typical programs take 1-2 years to complete.

Like traditional four-year colleges, Tennessee trade schools offer student services that include career and academic advising. Some feature activities and organizations learners may participate in outside of class. These benefits help students network with peers and develop transferable skills employers want.

Common trade schools in Tennessee train students not only for a career but also for transfer to an associate or bachelor's program. This feature provides academic flexibility if learners’ academic or career goals change.

Is trade school worth the money?

Some benefits of trade school include less tuition costs than traditional four-year colleges. These programs also prepare learners to enter the workforce quickly. These benefits let workers start saving money for their long-term goals as soon as possible.

The best trade schools in Tennessee feature programs that train students for jobs paying well above the U.S. median salary. The most high-paying positions include air traffic controller, construction manager, and elevator mechanic.

Answering this question requires personal reflection. Although some trades pay well, the field may not appeal to all workers. Consider your short and long-term professional goals while researching trade schools in Tennessee.

Best Tennessee 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
  • Over 50% graduation rate

Allied Health Careers Institute

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $1,000-$9,910/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Murfreesboro
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate; Social Security number; driver's license
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining satisfactory academic progress
  • Accreditations: COE

ACHI offers four trade programs: clinical medical assistant, billing and coding specialist, phlebotomy technician, and LPN. LPN learners take classes in medication administration, nutrition, and basic nursing skills. Students may take classes during the day or in the evenings.

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EduMed Partners

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $1,600-$7,500/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Goodlettsville
  • Admission/application reqs: Admissions assessment; high school diploma or GED certificate; interview
  • Graduation reqs: A minimum 75% grade in all classes
  • Accreditations: COE

EduMed Partners trains students for a career as a phlebotomist or certified medical assistant. The latter takes approximately seven months. Phlebotomy learners graduate in just 2-3 weeks.

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Image Maker Beauty Institute

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $20,000/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Hendersonville
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate; Social security number
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining satisfactory academic progress
  • Accreditations: NACCAS

Students learn full or part time and graduate in 50-75 weeks. Learners take classes in rotating modules and complete 1,500 hours of hands-on training. Graduates go on to take the TN State Board of Cosmetology Licensing Exam.

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Massage Institute of Memphis

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $9,800/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Memphis
  • Admission/application reqs: Official application; two recommendation letters, high school diploma or GED certificate, interview, physical examination
  • Graduation reqs: A minimum 75% grade in all classes
  • Accreditations: ACCSC

Massage Institute of Memphis students take classes in the sciences, massage theory and practice, and allied modalities. They apply what they learn in the classroom during 150 hours of clinical rotations. The program concludes with a final practical exam where learners show mastery of different massage skills.

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Mind Body Institute, LLC

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $9,880/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Nashville
  • Admission/application reqs: Interview; high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Accreditations: ACCSC

Students at Mind Body Institute, LLC take classes in osteology and myology, Swedish massage, and clinical concepts. Other classes cover adult CPR and professional ethics. Learning outcomes include developing practical skills and preparing for the state licensure exam.

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Nashville Film Institute

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $4,500-$20,800/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Nashville
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Accreditations: ACCET

NFI features a 1-3 month certificate in acting for the camera and a nine-month diploma in cinema production. It also offers a summer camp for people interested in the film industry. NFI awards institutional aid to learners with academic merit or financial need.

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Ross Medical Education Center-Knoxville

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $15,990/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Knoxville; hybrid
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation reqs: Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Accreditations: ABHES

Ross Medical Education Center provides students living in and around Knoxville with medical and dental assistance programs. Both feature extensive hands-on training and let learners take classes during the day or evening. Students graduate in just 30-36 weeks, depending on the program.

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Shear Perfection Academy of Cosmetology

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $4,500-$17,990/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Nashville
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate; Social security number
  • Graduation reqs: A minimum 75% grade in all classes
  • Accreditations: NACCAS

Shear Perfection Academy of Cosmetology offers four programs. Learners studying cosmetology graduate in 11-15 months by completing 1,500 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on learning. Experienced cosmetologists may advance their career by enrolling in the two-month instructor program.

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Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis

  • Public nonprofit
  • Cost: Up to $1,340/trimester
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Memphis
  • Admission/application reqs: High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining satisfactory academic progress; exit interview
  • Accreditations: COE

TCAT-Memphis offers over a dozen on-campus programs in topics that include avionics maintenance technology, diesel-powered equipment technology, and industrial maintenance repair. Some classes take place on the school's two extension campuses. Tennessee residents may qualify for one of two state scholarship programs.

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Vibe Barber College

  • Private for-profit
  • Cost: $18,950/program
  • Location (or online, if applicable): Memphis
  • Admission/application reqs: Photo ID; high school diploma or GED certificate; Social security number
  • Graduation reqs: Maintaining satisfactory academic progress
  • Accreditations: NACCAS

Vibe Barber College's 1,500-hour program emphasizes relevant hands-on experience and provides students with the knowledge and skills to start a business. Learners nearing graduation benefit from the college's career placement services. Students with financial need may qualify for federal grant and loan programs.

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Other Notable Tennessee 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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