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Top 100 Most Affordable Trade School Programs By Region

Most Affordable Vocational Schools
Great Value Colleges - Most Affordable

Trade schools, also known as vocational schools or technical schools, are postsecondary institutions designed to provide students with the necessary skills and training to perform a specific trade or job. Trade schools enroll students right out of high school, but there are also trade schools for adults who want a career change or wish to advance their existing career with an advanced certificate or degree.

Trade school programs are often less-expensive alternatives to colleges and universities offering four-year degrees. Many of these programs also yield an impressive return on investment and are associated with lucrative career options. In this ranking, we explore the top 100 most affordable trade school programs in the U.S., categorized by geographical location. 

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Net Price

  • Net Price Below $5,000: 6 points
  • Net Price Below $6,000: 5 points
  • Net Price Below $7,000: 4 points
  • Net Price Below $8,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $9,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $10,000: 1 point

Early Career Pay

  • Above $50,000: 7 points
  • Above $47,500: 6 points
  • Above $45,000: 5 points
  • Above $42,500: 4 points
  • Above $40,000: 3 points
  • Above $37,500: 2 points
  • Above $35,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Under 10: 3 points
  • Under 15: 2 points
  • Under 20: 1 point

Table of Contents:

Ranking the Top Most Affordable Trade Schools By Region

To develop this ranking of the most affordable trade school programs by region, our editors began with an initial pool of 439 technical-vocational schools across the country. We then divided these schools by region, including Northeastern, Western, Midwestern, and Southern schools. Next, we applied a tuition filter, eliminating any trade school with tuition expenses above $10,000 per year. Finally, we applied the rating and ranking methodology above, using data from College Navigator and PayScale. What follows is our take on the top 100 trade school programs available in the United States today, presented by region. 

Northeastern Schools

#25—Community College of Beaver County

Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $39,600

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Located just west of bustling Pittsburgh, Community College of Beaver County is a small, public two-year college. The school offers certificates and associate degrees in 20 different fields of study, including marketing, liberal arts and sciences, and health professions, for instance. For students interested in career and trade programs, CCBC offers programs in Building Construction Technology, Welding, Wastewater Treatment, Applied Technologies, and more. The school accommodates its busiest students with convenient evening and hybrid classes.
Points: 5
Net Price: $8,350

#24—Community College of Allegheny County

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $41,300

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Community College of Allegheny County has been serving residents of the Greater Pittsburgh area since 1966. A respected two-year college, CCAC offers a variety of academic and career programs in 26 different areas of study. This includes skilled trade programs like plumbing, automotive technology, welding, building construction, and more. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to offer both degrees and professional certifications.
Points: 6
Net Price: $8,377

#23—Hudson Valley Community College

Troy, New York

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Early Career Pay: $44,100

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Hudson Valley Community College has been offering educational and training opportunities for residents of the Capital Region for well over half a century now. Currently, the school offers over 80 distinct degrees and certificates in over 20 different fields of study. This includes trade and workforce development programs in electrical technology, dental assisting, construction, computer-aided drafting, and more. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited HVCC to award academic credentials as well as professional certificates.
Points: 6
Net Price: $8,298

#22—Wor-Wic Community College

Salisbury, Maryland

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $38,300

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Wor-Wic Community College is a comprehensive institution of higher education, offering a range of different educational credentials from adult education and certificate programs to associate degrees. Non-credit workforce development plans and courses are also available. Students interested in pursuing a trade should consider the school’s offerings in areas such as construction, manufacturing, welding, electrical wiring, and wastewater treatment, for example. WWCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Points: 6
Net Price: $7,827

#21—Luzerne County Community College

Nanticoke, Pennsylvania

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $39,400

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Founded in 1966, Luzerne County Community College is a two-year public college offering a range of diploma, certificate, and associate degree programs. Students can pursue these credentials in over 25 different fields of study, including health professions, business and management, general studies, and more. Those students interested in pursuing a trade may consider the school’s offerings in electrical construction technology, industrial maintenance, and building maintenance technology, for instance. LCCC is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Points: 6
Net Price: $7,026

#20—Camden County College

Blackwood, New Jersey

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 23:1
Early Career Pay: $39,500

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

With four locations throughout Camden County, New Jersey, Camden County College serves approximately 11,000 students annually. The school offers certificate and degree programs in 18 different fields of study. This includes several trade and career programs such as those in computer-aided drafting and design, manufacturing technology, and precision machining technology, for example. Its main campus is in Blackwood.
Points: 6
Net Price: $6,335

#19—Allegany College of Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $43,500

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Established in 1961, Allegany College of Maryland is a two-year public college offering nearly 30 different associate degrees and as many certificate programs. Though its main campus is in Cumberland, the school has five other satellite campuses throughout the area. Career programs include those in Welding, Drone Training, Advanced Manufacturing Industrial Technology, and Construction and Industrial Training, for instance. ACM is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to award academic and professional credentials.
Points: 7
Net Price: $9,509

#18—Northern Essex Community College

Haverhill, Massachusetts

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Early Career Pay: $43,300

Most Affordable Vocational Schools

Northern Essex Community College has been serving the residents of Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire for nearly sixty years. Today, the school offers approximately 70 different associate degree and certificate programs, including workforce development programs. Some of these occupational development offerings include Robotics and Automation Training, Home Inspection, Culinary Arts, and Advanced Manufacturing, for instance. The New England Commission of Higher Education has accredited NECC to award these degrees and certificates.
Points: 7
Net Price: $8,272

#17—Quinebaug Valley Community College

Danielson, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $39,300

Established in 1971, Quinebaug Valley Community College is a fully accredited two-year school offering over 50 different professional certificates and associate degrees. For students interested in career and trade programs, the school offers certifications in Mechatronics Automation, Supply Chain Management, Machine Technology, and Computer Aided Design (CAD). These programs are available on a full-time or part-time basis.
Points: 7
Net Price: $7,864

#16—Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Winsted, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $39,500

Founded in 1965, Northwestern Connecticut Community College is one of the smallest colleges in the Connecticut Community Colleges system. Even so, the school offers more than 50 different associate degree and non-credit certificate programs. Career and vocational options include offerings in Manufacturing Design, Computer Programming, Manufacturing Processes, and Computer Numeric Control (CNC), for instance. The school is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Points: 7
Net Price: $7,096

#15—Housatonic Community College

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $40,600

A two-year public school founded in 1967, Housatonic Community College is a member of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. The school enrolls over 5,000 students per year and offers both associate degrees and vocational certificates in over 20 different areas of study. Continuing and professional education opportunities are available in fields like allied health, manufacturing, and information technology, for instance. HCC holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Points: 7
Net Price: $6,270

#14—Northern Maine Community College

Presque Isle, Maine

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Early Career Pay: $40,500

Northern Maine Community College is a small two-year public school offering associate degrees and vocational certificate programs in ten different fields of study. Popular options include health professions, construction trades, and mechanical repair technologies. NMCC is fully accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Points: 8
Net Price: $8,975

#13—Salem Community College

Carneys Point, New Jersey

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $44,600

A small two-year public school, Salem Community College was founded in 1958. Today, the school offers an array of associate degree and certificate programs in over 15 different fields of study. Career-minded students may consider the school’s certification plans in areas like practical nursing, medical coding, and administrative assistance, for example. Numerous other workforce development courses are also available. SCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to offer these classes and credentials.

Points: 8
Net Price: $8,450

#12—Quinsigamond Community College

Worcester, Massachusetts

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $43,200

Quinsigamond Community College was established in 1963. Today, it offers a wide variety of associate degree and career certificate programs in over a dozen different areas of study. For students who desire to learn a trade, the school offers programs in Aviation Maintenance Technology, Dental Hygiene, Manufacturing Technology, and Electronics Engineering, for instance. These offerings are made possible through the school’s full accreditation status from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Points: 8
Net Price: $7,254

#11—Westmoreland County Community College

Youngwood, Pennsylvania

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $38,600

Established in 1970, Westmoreland County Community College now offers two-year associate degrees and vocational certificates in more than 20 different areas of study. Popular programs for career-oriented students include Applied Industrial Technology, Drafting & Design, Additive Manufacturing, and Journeyman Machining Technology. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited WCCC to award these degrees and certifications.
Points: 8
Net Price: $6,772

#10—Hagerstown Community College

Hagerstown, Maryland

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $41,700

Established in 1946, Hagerstown Community College has the distinction of being the first community college in the state of Maryland. Today, the school offers over 100 different academic and career-focused programs in 15 different fields of study. For trade students, the school offers plans in Advanced Manufacturing Systems, Alternative Energy Technology, Commercial Transportation Management, and Welding and Fabrication, for example. HCC holds full accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Points: 8
Net Price: $6,747

#9—North Shore Community College

Danvers, Massachusetts

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $44,800

Established in 1965, North Shore Community College serves over 10,000 North Shore residents each year. The school offers associate and certificate programs in nearly 20 different academic and vocational fields. Students interested in pursuing a trade may consider the school’s offerings in horticulture, dietary management, culinary arts, and computer aided design, for instance. The New England Commission of Higher Education has fully accredited North Shore to offer these degrees and certificates.
Points: 9
Net Price: $7,768

#8—Mount Wachusett Community College

Gardner, Massachusetts

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Early Career Pay: $43,300

Founded in 1963, Mount Wachusett Community College has an open admissions policy and serves almost 4,000 students per year. The school is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education to offer both two-year degrees and professional certificates. These programs are available in almost 20 different fields of study, including vocational areas like Automotive Technology, Graphic Design, and Robotics and Automation Training, for instance.
Points: 9
Net Price: $7,574

#7—Manchester Community College

Manchester, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Early Career Pay: $46,400
Points: 9

As the largest community college in the state of Connecticut, Manchester Community College serves over 6,000 undergraduate students annually. The two-year public school offers associate degrees and professional certificates in nearly 25 different fields of study. Popular programs for vocational students include those in computer networking, manufacturing, culinary arts, and web technology. MCC is fully accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Net Price: $6,666

#6—Niagara County Community College

Sanborne, New York

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $38,400

Founded in 1962, Niagara County Community College is a two-year public college located near Buffalo, NY. The school offers its over 5,000 students an array of degree and certificate programs in nearly 25 distinct areas of study. Vocational and trade programs include those in Welding Technology, Hospitality Management, Computer-Aided Drafting, and Massage Therapy, for example. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has fully accredited the school to offer these credentials.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,828

#5—Middlesex Community College

Middletown, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $39,000

As one of the largest members of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, Middlesex Community College serves nearly 4,500 undergraduate students per year. These students pursue associate and certificate programs in more than 15 distinct fields of study. Vocational students may consider programs in real estate, manufacturing, natural gas technology, web marketing, and more. MxCC is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,752

#4—Erie Community College

Buffalo, New York

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $39,800

Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, Erie Community College has been serving the residents of Western New York since 1946. The school offers numerous degree and certificate programs in roughly 20 different areas of study. Students interested in pursuing a trade can enroll in a certificate program in Green Building Technology, HVAC, Mechatronics, or Dental Assisting, for example. Erie Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,558

#3—Springfield Technical Community College

Springfield, Massachusetts

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $47,400

Established in 1967 and fully accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Springfield Technical Community College is the only school of its kind in the state of Massachusetts. The school offers almost one hundred distinct academic and certificate programs. Students interested in obtaining trade-related skills may consider the college’s offerings in Automotive Technology, Building Construction Management, Electrical/Robotics Technology, or Landscape Design and Maintenance Technology, for instance. Evening classes are often available, depending on the program.

Points: 10
Net Price: $7,770

#2—Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Early Career Pay: $43,300

Established in 1905, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology serves approximately 1,200 students through over 20 different educational programs. In addition to associate degrees, the school also offers various certificate programs, include trade-related offerings like Welding Technology, Masonry Construction, and Metalcasting Technology and Manufacturing Management, for instance. Forbes has ranked the college among the top 10 two-year trade schools in the nation.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,742

#1—Naugatuck Valley Community College

Waterbury, Connecticut

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $44,500

Part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, Naugatuck Valley Community College has two campuses—one in Waterbury and one in Danbury, Connecticut. The school offers numerous associate degree programs as well as professional certificates and workforce development programs. Popular trade programs include Fire Technology and Administration, Horticulture, Manufacturing, and Electrical Engineering Technology. The New England Commission of Higher Education has accredited NVCC to award these degrees and certificates.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,319

Southern Schools

#25—Gadsden State Community College

Gadsden, Alabama

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $37,900

Serving just under 5,000 students via four different campuses, Gadsden State Community College was founded in 1925 and is a member of the Alabama Community College System. The school offers more than 70 certificate and degree programs in more than a dozen areas of study. This includes skills training programs in machine trades, auto body, electrician assistance, welding, and more. Gadsden State is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,518

#24—Vance-Granville Community College

Henderson, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $35,600

Established in 1969 as part of the North Carolina Community College System, Vance-Granville Community College now offers over 40 different educational programs, including associate degree, certificate, and diploma offerings. Areas of study include Electrical Systems Technology, Welding Technology, Automotive Technology, and more. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited VGCC to award these academic and professional credentials. Points: 9
Net Price: $3,836

#23—West Georgia Technical College

Waco, Georgia

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $38,900

With its main campus in Waco, West Georgia Technical College serves seven different counties throughout the western part of the state through five distinct campuses. Associate degree and vocational certificate programs are available in fifteen areas of study. For career-minded students, programs in precision manufacturing, welding and joining technology, air conditioning technology, and fire science technology are considerations. WGTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award these credentials.
Points: 9
Net Price: $3,535

#22—Cleveland Community College

Shelby, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Early Career Pay: $36,200

Established in 1965, Cleveland Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System. In addition to a range of associate degree programs, the school also offers vocational and workforce development certification programs in more than a dozen different fields. Examples include HVAC, Robotics, Drafting, Facility Maintenance, and Carpentry, for example. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Cleveland Community College to offer these academic and professional certificates.
Points: 9
Net Price: $3,076

#21—Central Alabama Community College

Alexander City, Alabama

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $39,000

Founded in 1969, Central Alabama Community College is a two-year public school serving roughly 2,000 students annually through three campus locations. Enrolled students can choose from associate degree and certificate programs in nearly a dozen different areas of study. This includes workforce development and career training programs. CACC is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $2,968

#20—Chattahoochee Valley Community College

Phenix City, Alabama

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $38,100
Points: 9

Chattahoochee Valley Community College is a small two-year public college serving approximately 1,500 students. The school offers degree and certificate programs in eight different academic and occupational areas of study, including mechanic and repair technologies, homeland security, construction, and transportation. CVCC holds full accreditation to offer these programs from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Net Price: $2,882

#19—George C. Wallace Community College- Dothan

Dothan, Alabama

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $38,700

First established in 1947, George C. Wallace Community College- Dothan serves nearly 4,000 students per year. The school offers a variety of degree and certificate programs in a dozen distinct fields of study. This includes programs offered through the school’s Career and Technical Education Division such as Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Welding Technology, Small Engine Repair, and Cabinetmaking. The school is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $2,031

#18—Alvin Community College

Alvin, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Early Career Pay: $46,600

Enrolling over 5,000 students annually, Alvin Community College has been serving Brazoria County since 1948. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited ACC to award a variety of academic degrees and career certificates in 20 different fields of study. Students interested in learning a trade may consider the school’s offerings in Welding, Pipefitting, Machining, or Truck Driving, for instance.
Points: 10
Net Price: $7,223

#17—Lamar Institute of Technology

Beaumont, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $48,000

Formerly Lamar University, Lamar Institute of Technology officially became a member of the Texas State University System in 1995. Today, the two-year public school offers academic and workforce development programs in a dozen different fields of study. Students interested in pursuing a trade can consider the school’s training opportunities in industrial mechanics, computer drafting technology, welding, or utility line technology, for example. LIT is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $7,034

#16—Montgomery Community College

Troy, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Early Career Pay: $41,800

Formerly Montgomery Technical School, Montgomery Community College was established in 1967 and is a member of the North Carolina Community College System. The small two-year public college offers an impressive number of associate degree and certificate programs in over fifteen different fields of study. Career and technical opportunities include those in Electrical Systems Technology, Culinary Arts, Forest Management Technology, and Geographic Information Systems. The school is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,939

#15—Victoria College

Victoria, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1

One of the older trade schools in our ranking, Victoria College was first established in 1925. The school serves about 4,000 students per year, offering academic and vocational programs in nine different areas of study. Students interested in technical trade school programs should consider the school’s offerings in plumbing, power line work, welding, electronics technology, and more. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited the college to offer these professional certifications.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,360

#14—Piedmont Community College

Roxboro, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Early Career Pay: $38,800

A technical-vocational school in the North Carolina Community College System, Piedmont Community College was established in 1970. Currently, it offers associate degree and technical certificate programs in over a dozen different categories of study. Career-minded students may look to the school’s offerings in Welding Technology, Mechatronics Engineering, Carpentry, or Electrical Systems Technology, for example. PCC is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,710

#13—Amarillo College

Amarillo, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Early Career Pay: $45,300

Established in 1929, Amarillo College now serves approximately 10,000 students per year through six different campuses. The two-year public school offers a variety of associate degree and trade school programs in almost 30 different areas of study. Students interested in pursuing a vocation can do so through options like Machining, Aviation, Automotive Collision, and Diesel Mechanics Technology, for instance. AC is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,670

#12—Vernon College

Wichita Falls, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $43,600
Vernon College first opened its doors in 1972 with just over 600 students. Today, it serves roughly 3,000, offering two-year associate degree programs as well as professional certificates. Enrolled students can pursue these credentials in nearly a dozen different fields of study. For those interested in trade school careers, there are opportunities in hospitality, transportation, computer programming, information technology, and more. Vernon College holds its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,196

#11—Forsyth Technical Community College

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Early Career Pay: $40,000

Forsyth Technical Community College is one of the largest schools in the North Carolina Community College System. As such, it offers associate degree and career certificate programs in nearly 20 different fields of study. This includes numerous technical-vocational school offerings such as those in computer-integrated machining, electrical systems technology, plumbing, and welding technology, for example. Forsyth Tech holds its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,629

#10—Rockingham Community College

Wentworth, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $38,700

Rockingham Community College is a small, rural public college offering an impressive number of two-year associate degrees and career certificate programs. Enrolled students can choose a plan of study from over a dozen different academic and vocational fields. Students interested in trade school programs can consider the school’s offerings in Industrial Systems Technology, Welding Technology, Computer Integrated Machining, and Electrical Systems Technology, for instance. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award these credentials.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,460

#9—Athens Technical College

Athens, Georgia

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $37,700

Established in 1958, Athens Technical College is part of the Technical College System of Georgia. The schools serve over 4,000 students annually, offering associate degree and trade school programs in nearly two dozen different areas of study. Examples include offerings in Commercial Truck Driving, Automotive Collision Repair, Drafting Technology, and Air Conditioning Technology, for instance. Athens Tech is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,365

#8—Lanier Technical College

Oakwood, Georgia

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $39,000

A member of the Technical College System of Georgia, Lanier Technical College was founded in 1964. The vocational-technical school offers degrees and certificates in over 15 different fields of study. Career-minded students may consider the school’s programs in Construction Management Technology, Carpentry, Precision Machining and Manufacturing, and Electrical Utility Technology, for example. LTC holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,287

#7—Southwestern Community College

Sylva, North Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $37,600

Formally established in 1964, Southwestern Community College is part of the North Carolina Community College System. The two-year public college and trade school offers degree and certificate programs in sixteen different areas of study. For those interested in technical-vocational school programs, SCC offers diplomas and certificated in welding, carpentry, and HVAC. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited the community college to award these career credentials.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,148

#6—Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Rome, Georgia

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Early Career Pay: $40,900

Part of the Technical College System of Georgia, Georgia Northwestern Technical College was founded in 1962. Today, it serves students across nine different counties in northwest Georgia. The school offers more than 200 degree, certificate, and diploma options in sixteen different areas of study. For students interested in trade school programs, GNTC offers programs in Air Conditioning System Maintenance, Construction Management, Diesel Truck Maintenance, and Welding and Joining Technology, for example. The school is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $2,587

#5—Wharton County Junior College

Wharton, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Early Career Pay: $46,400

Established in 1946, Wharton County Junior College serves over 6,500 students across four different campus locations. The school offers technical-vocational school programs as well as associate degree offerings in two dozen different areas of study. Trade programs include those in Manufacturing Technology, Process Technology, and Welding Technology, for instance. WJJC holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 11
Net Price: $4,392

#4—College of the Mainland

Texas City, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $45,400

Established in 1966, College of the Mainland is a two-year public college serving the residents of Galveston County. The school offers diploma, certificate, and degree programs in fourteen different areas of study. For students interested in pursuing trade school careers, COM offers programs in Welding Technologies, Drafting, Process Technology, Fire Protection Technology, and more. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 12
Net Price: $3,545

#3—Aiken Technical College

Graniteville, South Carolina

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $42,800

One of sixteen colleges in the South Carolina Technical College System, Aiken Technical College was established in 1972. The school offers two-year degree and certificate programs in over a dozen different fields of study. These include trade school programs in Manufacturing Technology, HVAC, Welding, Electronic Technology, and more. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Aiken Tech to award both academic and vocational credentials.
Points: 12
Net Price: $3,386

#2—Del Mar College

Corpus Christi, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $45,900

Established in 1935, Del Mar College is a large two-year public college serving over 11,000 students per year. The school offers numerous associate degree and certificate programs in nearly 30 different fields of study. Students interested in technical-vocational school programs can choose from options in Biotechnology, Industrial Instrumentation, Technical Drafting and Design Technology, Aviation Maintenance, and more. DMC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 13
Net Price: $4,769

#1—Galveston College

Galveston, Texas

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $49,200

Established in 1967, Galveston College is one of the newer trade schools in our ranking. The school serves over 2,000 students per year, offering associate degree and certificate programs in seven distinct areas of study. Career programs include those in culinary arts, computerized tomography, law enforcement, surgical technology, and more. GC holds full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Points: 13
Net Price: $3,632

Western Schools

#25—Portland Community College

Portland, Oregon

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Early Career Pay: $43,000

As the largest community college in Oregon, Portland Community College serves residents of five different counties through its four main campuses. Enrolled students can choose from degree and certificate programs in more than two dozen fields of study. Vocational-technical school offerings include those in Automotive Service, Building Construction, Machine Manufacturing, Welding, and more. PCC is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Points: 8
Net Price: $7,910

#24—Rio Salado College

Tempe, Arizona

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 31:1
Early Career Pay: $44,200

Established in 1978, Rio Salado College is part of the Maricopa Community College District. This large two-year public college serves approximately 18,000 students annually. The school offers more than 130 academic degrees and trade school programs in over 20 different areas of study. Examples include Lineman Technology, Basic Automotive Maintenance, Furniture Construction, and Trim Plumbing. The school holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 8
Net Price: $6,836

#23—Yavapai College

Prescott, Arizona

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $40,100

Founded in 1965, Yavapai College is a two-year public college serving Arizona’s Yavapai County. The school serves over 7,000 undergraduate students annually, offering both associate degrees and career training programs in 20 different areas of study. Through its School of Career and Technical Education, Yavapai offers plans of study in Construction Building Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Horticulture, and Gunsmithing, for example. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited the community college to award these credentials to eligible students. Points: 8
Net Price: $6,697

#22—South Puget Sound Community College

Olympia, Washington

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $42,000

South Puget Sound Community College was first established in 1962. Today, the two-year public school serves nearly 5,000 students per year in the southwest part of Olympia. These students can choose from associate degree and certificate programs in 15 distinct areas of study. For those interested in trade school careers, SPCC has offerings in Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and more. The school has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities since 1975.
Points: 8
Net Price: $6,663

#21—Butte College

Oroville, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Early Career Pay: $41,300

Founded in 1967, Butte College now serves well over 10,000 students per year. The school is part of the California Community Colleges System and offers associate degree and vocational certificate programs in over 25 different areas of study. Trade school programs include 3-D Mechanical Applications, Agriculture Business, Commercial HVAC, and Construction Management, for example. The school is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 8
Net Price: $5,317

#20—Morgan Community College

Fort Morgan, Colorado

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Early Career Pay: $45,600

First established in 1970, Morgan Community College is a member of the Colorado Community College System. A small two-year public college, the school serves just over 1,200 students per year and offers associate degree and technical certificates in nine different areas of study. Trade school programs include those in Automotive Collision Repair, Electromechanical Technology, and Welding, for instance. MCC holds full accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $8,474

#19—Western Wyoming Community College

Rock Springs, Wyoming

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $44,600

First established in 1959, Western Wyoming Community College currently serves over 3,000 students per year. The school offers two-year degree and certificate programs in two dozen fields of study, including vocational-technical school programs. Students interested in industrial careers can choose from eleven different fields, including welding, oil and gas plant operations, industrial maintenance, and more. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited WWCC to offer this range of academic and career credentials.
Points: 9
Net Price: $7,751

#18—San Diego City College

San Diego, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Early Career Pay: $46,000

Located in downtown San Diego, San Diego City College is a large community college, serving over 15,000 students annually. The school offers an array of associate degree and certificate programs in more than 30 areas of study. Options for career education include trade school programs in fields like Computer Technical Illustration, Electricity, Machine Technology, and Sustainable Agriculture. City College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $6,980

#17—Los Medanos College

Pittsburg, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Early Career Pay: $45,500

Part of the Contra Costa Community College System, Los Medanos College serves nearly 10,000 students per year. The school offers associate degree and vocational certificate programs in almost two dozen fields of study. This includes trade school programs in Appliance Service Technology, Electrical and Instrumentation Technology, Process Technology, and more. LMC is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $6,798

#16—Clovis Community College

Fresno, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $40,800

One of the youngest technical-vocational schools in our ranking, Clovis Community College was established in 2007. A member of the State Center Community College District, the school offers associate degree and trade programs in nearly 20 different fields of study. Through its Division of Career and Technical Education, Clovis offers plans of study in Industrial Automation, Water Treatment, Web Design, Food Safety, and more. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges has accredited Clovis Community College to award these credentials to eligible students.
Points: 9
Net Price: $5,996

#15—San Juan College

Farmington, New Mexico

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $41,800

Founded in 1956 as part of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, San Juan College is now an independent vocational-technical school serving over 7,000 students annually. The school offers degree and certificate programs in over 25 different areas of study. This includes career education and trade school programs in Petroleum Production Operations, Building Trades, Automotive Technology, and Diesel Technology, for example. San Juan College holds accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $5,796

#14—College of the Redwoods

Eureka, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $40,400

A member of the Redwoods Community College District, the College of the Redwoods was established in 1964. Today, it serves over 4,000 students per year with degree and certificate programs in 25 different subject areas. Through its Career Education Division, the school offers trade school programs in Manufacturing Technology, Agriculture, Automotive Technology, Drafting, and more. CR holds its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $5,710

#13—Mt. San Antonio College

Walnut, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Early Career Pay: $42,100

Established in 1946, Mt. San Antonio College is a large two-year public school, serving nearly 30,000 students annually. The school offers more than 250 associate degrees and vocational-technical school certificates in 30 different fields of study. Students interested in a trade school program can pursue a plan of study in areas like Aircraft Powerplant Maintenance, Electronics Systems Technology, Landscape Construction, Manufacturing Technology, and more. Mt. SAC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,484

#12—Lower Columbia College

Longview, Washington

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $42,700

First established in 1934, Lower Columbia College is now a comprehensive community and vocational-technical school enrolling over 4,000 students annually. The school offers over 70 academic and career preparation programs in over a dozen areas of study. Students interested in learning a trade can opt for programs in Welding, Manufacturing, Machining, or Automotive Technology, for instance. LCC is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to award these credentials and certifications.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,910

#11—Laramie County Community College

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $45,900

Laramie County Community College is a two-year public school serving over 4,000 students annually through two campus locations as well as two other outreach centers. First established in 1968, the college now offers over 100 associate degree and certificate programs in nearly 30 different areas of study. Trade school students can pursue educational pathways in Automotive Body Repair, Diesel Technology, HVAC, Plumbing Technology, and more. LCCC holds its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,650

#10—Eastern Arizona College

Thatcher, Arizona

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $43,300

Founded in 1888, Eastern Arizona College is the oldest community college in the state of Arizona and one of the oldest trade schools in this ranking. Today, the school serves over 6,000 students each year, offering degree and certificate programs in over 25 areas of study. Vocational-technical school students can choose from offerings in Automotive Technology, Manufacturing, Computer-Assisted Drafting, and Welding Technology, for instance. EAC is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,479

#9—Casper College

Casper, Wyoming

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $44,700

Founded in 1945, Casper College is one of the largest community colleges and trade schools in the state of Wyoming. The school serves approximately 4,000 students per year, offering degrees and certificates in 30 fields of study. Standout offerings for vocational-technical school students include Architectural Graphics & Design, Construction Management, and Industrial Electronics. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Casper College to award academic and professional credentials.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,438

#8—Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell

Roswell, New Mexico

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Early Career Pay: $46,000

ENMU-Roswell is a two-year community college associated with Eastern New Mexico University. The school enrolls approximately 2,500 students each year, offering associate degrees and career certificates in nearly 20 different fields of study. Technical education opportunities include programs in HVAC, Engineering and Design Technology, Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Welding Technology. Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $5,320

#7—Long Beach City College

Long Beach, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 28:1
Early Career Pay: $44,000

Established in 1927, Long Beach City College is a large two-year community college, serving well over 20,000 students annually. Enrolled students can choose from among various degree and certificate programs in 30 different fields of study. For vocational-technical school students, the college offers options in Advanced Transportation Technology, Architectural Design, Metal Fabrication, and Construction Technology, for example. LBCC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,817

#6—Fresno City College

Fresno, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 27:1
Early Career Pay: $43,700

Part of the State Center Community College District, Fresno City College is a large two-year public school, enrolling more than 20,000 students each year. The college offers associate degree and trade school programs in over 30 different fields of study. Through its Division of Career and Technical Education, Fresno City offers plans of study in Industrial Arts and Technology, Engine Repair, Certified Logistics Technology, and Construction, for example. The school holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 10
Net Price: $3,720

#5—College of the Sequoias

Visalia, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Early Career Pay: $42,200

First established in 1926, the College of the Sequoias now serves over 12,000 students per year. A two-year public college and vocational-technical school, COS offers degrees and certificates in 30 different areas of study. Trade school programs include Electrician Training, Drafting, Industrial Automation, and Welding, for instance. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has accredited the College of the Sequoias to award academic and vocational credentials.
Points: 10
Net Price: $2,347

#4—Luna Community College

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $40,300

Founded in 1969, Luna Community College is a small two-year community college and trade school serving just over 1,000 students annually. The school offers degree and certificate programs in 17 different areas of study. Vocational education options include those in Building Technology, Culinary Arts, Welding Technology, and Automotive Collision Repair Technology, for instance. LCC is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 11
Net Price: $3,508

#3—Shoreline Community College

Shoreline, Washington

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $48,800

Established in 1964, Shoreline Community College currently enrolls approximately 6,000 students per year. The school offers associate degree and trade school programs in 15 different areas of study. Professional technical programs include those in Manufacturing, Clean Energy Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology, and Visual Communications Technology. SCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to award these professional certifications to eligible students.
Points: 12
Net Price: $6,733

#2—City College of San Francisco

San Francisco, California

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Early Career Pay: $50,200

Founded in 1935, City College of San Francisco is a large two-year community college serving over 25,000 students each year. The school offers over 150 academic and vocational-technical school programs in more than 30 different areas of study. Career education opportunities include plans of study in Transportation, Culinary Arts, Information Technology, and Building & Construction, for example. CCSF holds its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Points: 12
Net Price: $5,850

#1—Bates Technical College

Tacoma, Washington

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Early Career Pay: $48,200

Bates Technical College has been providing vocational-technical school education to residents of the Tacoma area since 1940. Today, the school offers degree and certificate programs in over 15 different areas of study. Students interested in learning a trade can choose from options in Manufacturing, Architecture & Construction, Culinary Arts, and Transportation Technology, for instance. BTC is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to award academic and professional credentials.
Points: 12
Net Price: $4,278

Midwestern Schools

#25—Zane State College

Zanesville, Ohio

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $38,700

Established in 1969, Zane State College is a two-year public community college and affordable trade school offering degree and certificate programs in over 15 different areas of study. The school’s 2,000-plus undergraduate offerings can choose from dozens of associate level programs as well as workforce development certificates offered on campus and online. Some of the technical-vocational school certificates available include those in real estate, cybersecurity, water technology, and industrial systems, for example. Zane State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer academic and career credentials.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,857

#24—Elgin Community College

Elgin, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Early Career Pay: $42,500

Now offering two-year associate degrees and affordable trade school programs in twenty different fields of study, Elgin Community College was first established in 1949. Currently, the school serves over 9,000 students annually in and around Elgin, Illinois. Students interested in pursuing trade school careers after graduation can choose from over two dozen vocational certificates in fields like entrepreneurship, computer integrated manufacturing, energy management, and machine tool operations, for example. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited ECC to award both degrees and certificates.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,823

#23—Waubonsee Community College

Sugar Grove, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Early Career Pay: $42,300

Now serving nearly 10,000 undergraduate students via three different campus locations, Waubonsee Community College was founded in 1966. The school offers numerous associate degrees and vocational certificates in 20 distinct areas of study. This includes both on-campus and distance learning options. Trade school programs include offerings in HVAC, Welding Technology, Auto Body Repair, Construction Management, and more. The school is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,706

#22—Moraine Valley Community College

Palos Hills, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Early Career Pay: $41,200

Established in 1967, Moraine Valley Community College now serves nearly 14,000 students through its main campus as well as several satellite centers. The school offers more than 130 degree and certificate programs in over 15 different fields of study. This includes technical-vocational school options in areas such as Additive Manufacturing, Emergency Management, Industrial Maintenance, Supply Chain Management, and more. Moraine Valley holds its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,668

#21—Joliet Junior College

Joliet, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Early Career Pay: $41,800

Founded in 1901, Joliet Junior College holds the distinction of being the very first community college established in the U.S. Now, the school serves nearly 15,000 undergraduate students per year and offers trade school programs and academic degrees in more than 20 different fields of study. The school’s career pathways initiative includes vocational certificates in fields like architecture, automotive repair, manufacturing, information technology, culinary arts, and more. JJC is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $4,428

#20—Delta College

University Center, Michigan

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Early Career Pay: $38,300

Now serving over 8,000 students annually, Delta College was first established in 1961. The school currently offers more than 150 technical-vocational school programs and associate degree plans in over 20 different fields of study. For those students interested in trade school careers, the college offers certificate programs in Automotive Service, Wind Turbine Technology, Residential Construction, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology, and more. Delta College holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. Points: 9
Net Price: $4,265

#19—West Shore Community College

Scottville, Michigan

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $37,500

West Shore Community College is a small two-year public school established in 1967. The school serves just over one thousand undergraduate students per year and offers a variety of associate degrees and certificate programs in ten different areas of study. This includes trade school programs in Mechanical Systems, Precision Machine Technology, Welding, Network Technology, and more. West Shore Community College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 9
Net Price: $3,782

#18—Olney Central College

Olney, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $36,900

Founded in 1963, Olney Central College is a small community college serving just over 1,000 students annually. In addition to trade school programs and two-year associate degree options, the school also offers online bachelor’s degree programs through its affiliation with Franklin University. Technical-vocational school offerings include those in Automotive Service & Repair, Entrepreneurship, Massage Therapy, Welding, and more. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited The Higher Learning Commission to award these career credentials.
Points: 9
Net Price: $2,522

#17—Washtenaw Community College

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $40,000

First established in 1965, Washtenaw Community College is now one of the larger community colleges and trade schools in our ranking, serving over 18,000 students per year. The school’s wide variety of academic and vocational programs span over 20 different areas of study and include online and accelerated plans of study. Popular technical-vocational school offerings include those in construction, information technology, human resources, and more. The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited WCC to award these certificates and degrees.
Points: 9
Net Price: $2,038

#16—Harper College

Palatine, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Early Career Pay: $45,100

Established in 1965, Harper College is a large community college named after junior college pioneer William Rainey Harper. Today, the school offers numerous degree and certificate programs in 20 different academic and technical areas of study. Technical-vocational school offerings include credentials in HVAC, Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Information Systems, and Maintenance Technology, for example. Harper College holds its institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,938

#15—Marion Technical College

Marion, Ohio

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Early Career Pay: $44,200

Founded in 1970, Marion Technical College is a small two-year community college offering associate degrees as well as trade school programs. Enrolled students can choose from offerings in seven broad fields of study. Technical-vocational school certificate options include those in Business Management, Real Estate, Robotics and Automation Technology, and Web Development, for instance. Marion Tech is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award these degrees and certifications.
Points: 10
Net Price: $6,251

#14—Sinclair Community College

Dayton, Ohio

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Early Career Pay: $41,100

One of the older two-year public schools in our ranking, Sinclair Community College was founded in 1887. Today, the school serves a large undergraduate population of over 18,000 students per year. Enrolled students can choose from a large variety of academic degrees and trade school programs in nearly 35 different areas of study. Career certificate programs include those in Agricultural Technology, Construction, Data Analytics, Energy Technology, and Aviation Maintenance, for example. Sinclair Community College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,887

#13—Metropolitan Community College

Omaha, Nebraska

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $38,700

Metropolitan Community College is the largest two-year public school of its kind in the state of Nebraska, serving almost 15,000 students annually. The school offers academic associate degrees as well as technical-vocational school programs in nearly 20 distinct areas of study. For students interested in pursuing trade school careers, there are options in construction, hospitality, transportation, information technology, and more. The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited Metro to confer these degrees and professional certifications. Points: 10
Net Price: $4,863

#12—Monroe County Community College

Monroe, Michigan

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $39,300

Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is the only college in the county of Monroe, Michigan. The school serves over 3,000 students each year with degree and certificate programs in more than a dozen different areas of study. For those students with plans to pursue trade school careers, the school offers certificate programs in Entrepreneurship, Automotive Engineering Technology, Welding, and Renewable Energy Technology, for instance. MCCC holds its institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $4,468

#11—Lewis and Clark Community College

Godfrey, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Early Career Pay: $41,900

Established in 1970, Lewis and Clark Community College now serves a student population of approximately 12,000 undergraduates through nine different campus locations. The school offers academic degrees and technical-vocational school programs in 20 different fields of study, including career development and certificate programs in Drafting and Design, Music Production, Process Operations Technology, and Welding Technology, for instance. The Higher Learning Commission has awarded the school full institutional accreditation.
Points: 10
Net Price: $3,780

#10—City Colleges of Chicago—Malcom X

Chicago, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 25:1
Early Career Pay: $44,100

Founded in 1911, City Colleges of Chicago-Malcom X is one of seven schools in the City Colleges of Chicago system. The school serves approximately 7,000 students per year and offers degree and certificate programs in seven distinct areas of study. Vocational certificates include those in transportation, culinary arts, advanced manufacturing, and construction technology, for example. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X to award academic degrees and professional certifications.
Points: 10
Net Price: $3,733

#9—City Colleges of Chicago—Richard J. Daley

Chicago, Ohio

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 36:1
Early Career Pay: $43,800

City Colleges of Chicago- Richard J. Daley is a Hispanic-Serving Institution enrolling approximately 7,000 students per year. The school offers a variety of different two-year academic degrees as well as trade school programs in nearly 15 different fields of study. Career development and certificate programs include those in Advanced Manufacturing, Culinary Arts, Logistics, and Information Technology, for instance. Richard J. Daley College holds its institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 10
Net Price: $3,590

#8—Prairie State College

Chicago Heights, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $47,600

Established in 1957, Prairie State College serves approximately 4,000 students per year. The school offers two-year associate degree programs as well as trade school programs in more than 15 different areas of study. Technical-vocational school offerings include those in Welding, Graphic Communication, HVAC, Automotive Technology, and more. Prairie State College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission to award both degree and professional certifications.
Points: 11
Net Price: $7,404

#7—Oakton Community College

Des Plaines, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Early Career Pay: $46,400

First established in 1969, Oakton Community College currently serves over 8,000 undergraduate students via two campuses and more than 200 satellite locations. The school is home to large academic and career development programs consisting of over 2,500 classes each semester, almost 100 of them offered online. Degree and certificate programs are available in 17 broad fields of study. This includes trade school programs in manufacturing technology, mechanical design, automotive technology, and facilities management, for instance. Oakton Community College is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 11
Net Price: $6,883

#6—Triton College

River Grove, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Early Career Pay: $43,500

Founded in 1964 with just 1,200 students, Triton College now enrolls more than 10,000 undergraduates and technical-vocational school students per year. Today, the school offers associate degree and career/professional certificates in 17 distinct fields of study. Trade school programs include those in Carpentry, Fire Science, Entrepreneurship, and Mechatronics, for example. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited Triton College to award these degrees and industry certifications.
Points: 11
Net Price: $4,960

#5—Lansing Community College

Lansing, Michigan

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Early Career Pay: $41,000

Established in 1957, Lansing Community College is now one of the largest two-year public schools in the state of Michigan. Approximately 12,000 students enroll in one of the school’s academic or career preparation programs each year. These students can choose from degree or certificate programs in over 30 different areas of study. Technical-vocational school students can elect to study Construction Management, Civil Technologies, Heavy Equipment Repair, or HVAC, for example. Lansing Community College is institutionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 11
Net Price: $4,069

#4—College of Lake County

Grayslake, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Early Career Pay: $42,800

Founded in 1967, College of Lake County is now a large two-year public school enrolling over 14,000 students per year. The school offers academic and career development programs in nearly two dozen areas of study. Students interested in pursuing trade school careers can choose from certificate programs in Machine Tool Trades, HVAC Engineering Technology, Automotive Collision Repair, and Drafting Technology, for example. College of Lake County holds full institutional accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 11
Net Price: $3,870

#3—South Suburban College

South Holland, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Early Career Pay: $46,800

Founded in 1927, South Suburban College currently serves over 4,000 students per year through two different campus locations. The school offers two-year associate degree programs as well as technical-vocational school offerings in 16 distinct fields of study. Trade school programs include those in Building Construction Technology, Welding, Forensic Science, and Manufacturing and Maintenance Technology, for instance. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited South Suburban College to award not only academic degrees but career certifications as well.
Points: 12
Net Price: $5,181

#2—Morton College

Cicero, Illinois

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Early Career Pay: $45,100

Established in 1924, Morton College is one of the oldest community colleges in the state of Illinois. Today, the school enrolls over 4,000 students annually and offers degree and certificate programs in a dozen different academic and vocational fields. For career-minded students, Morton offers Associate of Applied Science and certificate programs in fields like Computer-Aided Design, HVAC, Automotive Technology, and Fire Science, for instance. The school holds its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 12
Net Price: $4,428

#1—Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Cincinnati, Ohio

Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Early Career Pay: $43,300

Founded in 1969, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College currently enroll over 8,000 students each year. These students can choose from career and academic programs in 20 different fields of study. For those interested in trade school programs, Cincinnati State offers options in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Public Safety Technology, Real Estate, and Supply Chain Management, for example. Cincinnati State is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Points: 12
Net Price: $3,478

Why Attend A Trade School?

Gone are the days when career success was defined by a four-year degree from a top-tier university. Though a college education will still go a long way towards securing your future in a lucrative career, so too will a good trade school program. This is good news for high school graduates and nontraditional students alike who cringe at the idea of hours spent in a classroom or behind a computer screen.

There are many benefits of trade school as well, especially for the vocationally inclined. While four-year universities require a hefty time commitment and explore a range of academic subjects, trade school programs are more focused and concise. As such, these programs are comprised of specific lessons designed to hone skills that point to a particular job in a chosen industry. Although they’re not easy per se, one could argue that they are more straightforward. For someone who desires a clear path towards quick employment, trade school programs are ideal.

Types of Trade School Programs Available

Once you’ve decided to attend a trade school for your post-secondary education, the next step is to think about the particular credential you’d like to pursue. Trade schools offer different types of programs that lead to various diplomas, certificates, and even degrees. Generally speaking, though, there are two distinct types of trade school credentials: industry certifications and associate of applied science degrees.

Industry Certifications

Industry certifications are perhaps the most popular types of trade school programs available. These programs provide enrolled students with a very specific skill set that will transfer seamlessly to success on the job. Industry certificate programs are often approved by professional organizations in their respective fields and feature hands-on learning opportunities for participants. Most of these certificate programs can be completed in just one to two years of full-time study.

Associate of Applied Science Degrees

Another option for trade school students is an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program. AAS programs are typically more involved programs that provide a more comprehensive introduction to a specific industry or sub-field. Like industry certification programs, these offerings prepare students to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. Associate of Applied Science degrees are usually comprised of 60 credit hours of coursework and require two years of full-time study prior to graduation.

On-Campus Versus Online Trade Schools

The popularity of remote learning combined with advancements in distance technology have made it possible for many affordable trade schools to offer their vocational programs online. These convenient offerings enable students to complete the requirements for a diploma, certificate, or even degree without attending in-person classes.

The Disadvantages of Online Trade Schools

The flexibility of these online trade schools comes with a price, however. What you gain in independence and scheduling options, you may lose in terms of interactivity. While some online vocational programs are more engaging than others, it’s impossible to completely replicate a traditional classroom environment in a virtual setting. If you have a hard time learning without one-on-one instruction, or you lack the self-discipline required to set and meet your own deadlines, then online trade schools may not be the best choice for you.

The Advantages of Online Trade Schools

On the other hand, there are many positive aspects of online trade schools that deserve mentioning. The self-paced nature of these programs makes it possible for working adults and those with strenuous family circumstances to complete a vocational program without making the commute to campus. Technological advancements have made it possible for many distance learning programs to deliver content in a synchronous format, meaning students log in to their learning platforms to view streaming lectures and interact with classmates in real-time. For students who desire the interactive nature of a traditional classroom without the commute, synchronous online trade school programs are often the best options.

Hybrid Trade School Programs

Due to the hands-on nature of many trades, it’s not always possible to offer training programs for these occupations entirely online. This is where hybrid trade school programs come in. Hybrid programs feature a combination of online coursework combined with face-to-face instruction and applied learning experiences. In a hybrid automotive repair program, for example, students may complete some courses online that teach them about the major components and mechanisms of a motor vehicle, but they will also attend workshops in which they have the opportunity to work on actual cars under the supervision of an expert mechanic.

Popular Technical-Vocational School Programs and Occupations

Health Sciences

The most recent statistics available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal health sciences to be the most popular field of study for trade school students. These students are enrolled in a variety of different training programs that prepare them for work in the health and medical field. Some of these occupations are listed below:

  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LPNs and LVNs)
  • Medical Assistants
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
  • Medical Transcriptionists
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Phlebotomists
  • Psychiatric Technicians
  • Skincare Specialists
  • Surgical Technologists
  • Respiratory Therapy Technicians
  • Ophthalmic Medical Technicians

Business and Marketing

Another very popular area of study for technical-vocational school students is the field of business and marketing. According to the NCES, 17% of all students enrolled in a trade school are studying a sub-field of business or marketing. Below, we list some of the jobs associated with a trade school certificate or degree in this broad occupational field:

  • Hotel Managers
  • Restaurant Managers
  • Retail Store Managers
  • Office Managers
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Property Managers
  • Real Estate Managers
  • Community Association Managers

Manufacturing, Construction, Transportation, and Repair

Another broad category of employment for trade school graduates is that of manufacturing, construction, transportation, and repair. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has identified the following occupations in this industry as those requiring a vocational-technical school credential:

  • Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians
  • Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
  • Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
  • Heating, Air conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
  • Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
  • Motorboat Operators
  • Motorcycle Mechanics
  • Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers
  • Tool and Die Makers
  • Wind Turbine Service Technicians
  • Prepress Technicians and Workers

Engineering and Architecture

Many students who attend trade school do so to earn a vocational certificate or associate degree in engineering or architecture. Occupations associated with these credentials are some of the highest-paid jobs one can get without a university degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following careers in engineering/architecture are obtainable for trade school graduates:

  • Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
  • Civil Engineering Technicians
  • Drafters
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
  • Environmental Engineering Technicians
  • Industrial Engineering Technicians
  • Mechanical Engineering Technicians
  • Ship Engineers
  • Sound Engineering Technicians

Computer and Information Technology

Careers in the field of computer and information technology are growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since many jobs in the industry require only a technical-vocational school credential, this is a field that is ideal for students who want to make a meaningful impact and earn a decent salary but don’t want to commit to a four-year degree program. Some of these jobs are listed below for the sake of example:

  • Computer Network Support Specialists
  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Computer User Support Specialists
  • Web Developers

Of course, there are many other options for technical-vocational school students as well, including programs in consumer services, education, communications, and protective services, for instance.

General Information:

Curriculum for Trade School Programs

By definition, the type of vocational education provided by trade schools relates specifically to particular career paths. That means that unlike many programs offered by colleges and universities, trade school programs feature a streamlined curriculum that includes only those classes and learning experiences that will prove useful in the workplace. In trade school, there will be no general education requirements or elective classes. Instead, you’ll enroll in a succinct plan of study comprised of prescribed, sequenced courses that prepare you for job success after graduation.

In-Demand Trade School Careers

Trade school programs are relatively safe options, even in a volatile economy. Still, some trade school careers are more promising than others. Below, we list some of the fastest-growing occupations with a technical-vocational school credential alongside their projected growth by percentage from 2018 to 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Wind Turbine Technician: 57%
  • Medical Assistants: 23%
  • Phlebotomists: 23%
  • Massage Therapists: 22%
  • Health Technologists and Technicians: 17%
  • Ophthalmic Medical Technican:16%
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: 13%
  • Audio and Visual Equipment Technicians: 12%
  • Psychiatric Technicians and Aides: 12%
  • Dental Assistant: 11%
  • Skincare Specialist: 11%
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: 11%
  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: 11%

High-Paying Trade School Careers

It is a common misconception that one must have a university education in order to find a lucrative job. On the contrary, there are many high-paying occupations that require nothing more than a technical-vocational school diploma or certificate. Our editors consulted the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to uncover the top-earning trade school positions currently available. We list these below alongside their median pay as of 2019:

  • Firefighter/Prevention Worker Supervisor: $77,800
  • Theatrical/Performance Makeup Artist: $75,730
  • Avionics Technician: $65,700
  • Aircraft Mechanic/Service Technician: $64,090
  • Auto Damage Insurance Appraiser: $63,270
  • Fire Inspectors and Investigator: $61,660
  • Court Reporter: $60,130
  • Electrical and Electronics Installer/Repairer: $59,080

Frequently-Asked Questions for Trade and Vocational Schools

It’s perfectly normal to have questions before deciding on a trade school program. Finding the answers to these questions is an important step in deciding whether a technical-vocational school program is right for you. Below, we list some of the questions we commonly receive from those students interested in pursuing trade school careers. Keep in mind that the information provided here is general in nature and not intended to replace information provided by a specific trade school representative.

Q: What can I expect to pay for an affordable trade school program?

A: Trade schools tend to be associated with lower tuition costs compared to four-year colleges and universities. They often represent the cheapest options for postsecondary education. All of the programs listed in this ranking of affordable trade schools feature tuition expenses of less than $5,000 per year.

Q: Are there trade schools for adults?

A: Yes. Most trade school programs accept students of any age. Plus, convenient part-time, evening, and/or online options are often available for students with full-time jobs or families.

Q: What are the benefits of trade school?

A: There are several benefits of trade school, and these can vary from school to school and program to program. Some potential benefits include lower tuition costs, more hands-on learning experiences, and a fast-track to a successful career in the trades.

Q: How do I find trade schools near me?

A: There are many ways to find a nearby trade school. You could perform a web search for trade and technical schools using your geographical region as a search term. The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator Tool can also help you find technical-vocational schools in your state.

Q: Are trade schools accredited?

A: Yes. Many trade schools, including technical-vocational schools and two-year public schools, are accredited by the same national and regional accrediting bodies as major universities. Some trade school programs are also approved by professional organizations within a specific industry.

Career Questions for Technical-Vocational Schools

Q: What will I make with a trade school certificate?

A: Your earnings with a trade school credential will depend on a number of different factors, including the trade you’re studying, your specific certificate or diploma, and the exact terms of your employment after graduation.

Q: Are credentials from trade schools in demand?

A: Yes, but it depends on the field. Some of the fastest-growing trade school careers include those in healthcare, dentistry, HVAC, and wind turbine technology, for instance.

Q: Do I need a trade school credential to get a job in the trades?

A: It depends on what industry you hope to work in. While some trades like plumbing and carpentry, for example, rely on on-the-job training and require only a high school diploma or equivalent for entry, an increasing number of technical and industrial positions do require a trade school diploma or certificate.

Q: Can I keep my current job while pursuing a trade school credential?

A: Definitely! Many trade schools have programs specifically designed for students with full-time jobs. To accommodate these busy students, these schools offer flexible scheduling options like evening, weekend, and online classes.

Q: Will I need a professional license in addition to a technical-vocational certificate?

A: In some cases, you might, but it depends on your specific career track. If your chosen occupation does require professional licensure, your trade school program will typically prepare you for any examinations you’ll need to take to secure this license.

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