Many trade schools and community colleges are offering a variety of skilled trade programs. However, going to a trade school specific to your career goal gives you a competitive edge for jobs after trade school. The best trade schools for career-specific training are below.
Accredited trade schools prepare you for a career without student debt
The most trusted trade schools are those accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and therefore have trade certificate programs eligible for payment by state and federal financial aid programs. Not all career-specific trade schools are accredited.
Even if a trade school is accredited, they may have certificate programs that do not qualify for payment with financial aid. To use financial aid for trade school the program must be accredited, last at least 15 weeks, and encompass at least 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours.
The guidelines for using funds from scholarships for community college or trade school are typically the same. The NSHSS Community College and Trade School scholarship program supports accredited trade schools only.
The following types of trade schools are best for a career based on all of these factors.
Welding trade schools
Welding is a quick trade to learn, with welding certificates taking between 9 and 18 months. The lowest 10% of welders earned less than $31,350 and represents entry-level jobs. The median salary for welders in the United States is $47,010 per year, and the job outlook has a steady 2% growth projection.
Welding trade schools are commonly run by area unions in industries that make use of welders. These trade schools may not be accredited, but they are still trustworthy. The most trusted trade schools for welders are either accredited or provide discounted tuition in exchange for a commitment to join the union supporting the welding school.
Cosmetology schools have various programs that last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. Most cosmetology certificate programs are sufficient to receive a license to practice last one to two years. Most beauty schools are accredited, but there are not very many available. There are currently fewer than 1300 cosmetology-specific trade schools in the United States.
Cosmetologists do not earn a high annual salary, with most working part-time hours. The lowest hourly pay for cosmetologists in general is $10.03 per hour, with a median rate of $14.26 per hour. However, the job outlook is good with an 11% growth projected for 2031.
Culinary arts schools
Culinary arts is a common trade school certificate and community college degree program, but students who want to focus on one particular area such as French food or baking are better off attending a culinary arts trade school. These are mostly accredited, and the average program takes 1 to 2 years to complete.
Chefs with formal training in culinary arts earn at least $30,910 per year with a median salary of $50,160 per year. As people cook less frequently at home, chefs and other food service jobs are expected to grow by 15% by 2031.
Aircraft mechanic school
Aircraft mechanics and technicians must attend a specialized trade school to learn their trade. Although the trade programs are generally 2 years in duration, they have very intense and cost about the same as a 4-year degree at a public institution. However, financial aid can be used in most cases, and the rewards are great. The lowest salary for aircraft mechanics is $38,270 and the median salary is $69,280 per year.
Honorable mention – CDL driving school
CDL schools and certificates are typically ineligible for financial assistance due to the short duration of the courses. Students can learn to drive commercial and semi-trucks and get their CDL license in just 6 to 24 weeks. The lowest-paid CDL drivers earn $30,710 per year, and the median salary of CDL truck drivers is $48,310 per year.
Transportation is becoming increasingly important, and it is estimated that the job market in this sector will grow by 4% in 2031. Although financial aid is not available, most CDL schools are run by transportation companies at discounted rates in exchange for a specified term of employment upon completion.