Vocational &
Trade Schools in Illinois

Demand for skilled workers who have completed vocational or trade school training is expected to remain strong in the state of Illinois. According to the Illinois Labor Market Review, the number of job openings that require postsecondary vocational training is expected to grow 13 percent through 2018. Graduates of career and technical education programs can qualify for a variety of specialized careers in Chicago and other major cities, as well as agricultural and manufacturing jobs in more rural areas in America’s heartland. This guide outlines vocational and trade schools in Illinois, career outlook information, and resources for students.

Top Ranked Vocational & Trade Schools in Illinois 2017

Illinois has a wide selection of vocational and trade school options for students seeking professional training. Some of the more popular areas of study include healthcare, construction and manufacturing, all of which can be found in any one of the Illinois’ trade schools, community colleges or career colleges. Our rankings of accredited Illinois schools can help students narrow down the options based on factors such as tuition rate, financial aid and number of programs.

RankSchool Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1
Danville Area Community College
99.03 $$$$$ 16% 16 17:1 29%

There are dozens of associate degree and certificate programs across 16 areas of study available to prospective students. Divisions include the Math, Science and Health Professions Division; the Business Division; the Technology & Information Systems Division and the Liberal Arts Division. Graduates may immediately enter the workforce or transfer into a four-year school. On-campus amenities include a child development center, a fitness center and computer labs. The school, which maintains a tobacco-free campus, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The college admits all students who are qualified to complete any of the school's programs.

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2
South Suburban College
97.22 $$$$$ 16% 19 14:1 22%

There are dozens of two-year programs available within the college's 14 departments, with campuses in both Oak Forest and South Holland. The campus is home to several existing organizations, and students are encouraged to form new ones, as well. A counseling center offers a range of advisory services, including student services, career programs and placement testing. Recruiters can arrange visits to the campus, and the college offers students several ways to earn alternative credits, including military credit and dual credit. An honors program offers students with exemplary high school records the opportunity to pursue advanced coursework.

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3
Sauk Valley Community College
96.88 $$$$$ 24% 11 17:1 29%

Sauk Valley Community College's experienced staff includes 46 full-time faculty (all of whom have at least a master's degree) and 114 adjunct faculty. Career degrees, transfer degrees and certificates are available in several areas of concentration throughout eight academic categories. The campus offers cross-cultural services, athletic programs, a fitness center, student organizations, student activities and a cafeteria. Degree programs culminate in AA, AS and AAS degrees, and the school also offers customized business training. The school provides student support services, a learning assistance center, disability support and academic advising.

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4
Olney Central College
96.15 $$$$$ 86% 12 14:1 37%

Olney Community College students can enter the workforce after just two years of study through a technical program offered by Illinois Eastern Community College. Other students may choose to move on to a senior academic institution and complete a bachelor's degree, generally with two more years of study. The fall semester starts in late August, the spring semester starts in the beginning of January and early June is when the summer semester starts. The college is home to several student organizations, including clubs dedicated to degree programs, such as welding and cosmetology, and non-academic clubs like LGBT and Oath Keepers.

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5
Frontier Community College
95.61 $$$$$ 91% 9 23:1 57%

Part of the Eastern Illinois Community College network, Frontier Community College offers dozens of two-year degrees and certificates in 14 areas of concentration. Students may earn credit through advanced placement testing, through prior licensure or certification, through a dual credit program or through military credit. With a few exceptions, students are allowed to take up to 12 credits through pass/fail courses. Otherwise, grades are assigned on an A-F scale with a traditional 4.0-based GPA. The school also offers some students in some situations the opportunity to appear for grade forgiveness.

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6
Lincoln Trail College
94.94 $$$$$ 96% 5 17:1 43%

Lincoln Trail College offers degrees including Associate in Engineering Science, Associate in Science and Associate in Science and Arts, all of which require two years of study and usually lead to transfers to four-year institutions. Students may also pursue Associate in Applied Science degrees, Associate in General Studies degrees and Associate in Science degrees, as well as roughly 35 professional certificates. Applicants must be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED. Students may receive conditional, non-conditional, provisional or special admittance. Students in good standing who left the school may generally return if they fulfill certain conditions

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7
Wabash Valley College
94.44 $$$$$ 98% 5 34:1 44%

Part of the Illinois Eastern Community College system, Wabash College offers 14 two-year programs to prospective students. In addition, the college maintains partnerships with several outside institutions designed to help students pursue four-year degrees after they graduate, including the SIU Carbondale Service Center, the IECC & Franklin University Partnership, and Franklin University. Like all colleges in the IECC network, Wabash follows a six-point "student first" protocol designed to measure and improve student learning. The school's accreditation has been reaffirmed by the the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) through 2024-25.

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8
Highland Community College
93.85 $$$$$ 30% 12 15:1 37%

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9
Lake Land College
93.78 $$$$$ 24% 22 23:1 30%

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10
College of DuPage
93.68 $$$$$ 6% 40 24:1 16%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
11
Southwestern Illinois College
93.58 $$$$$ 14% 29 20:1 27%

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12
Parkland College
93.56 $$$$$ 11% 23 18:1 16%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
13
Black Hawk College
93.54 $$$$$ 24% 20 20:1 19%

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14
Triton College
93.38 $$$$$ 8% 29 20:1 15%

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15
Elgin Community College
93.20 $$$$$ 14% 30 20:1 29%

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16
Waubonsee Community College
93.20 $$$$$ 12% 26 23:1 30%

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17
Lewis and Clark Community College
93.11 $$$$$ 12% 22 23:1 13%

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18
Joliet Junior College
93.06 $$$$$ 7% 31 23:1 13%

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19
Harper College
93.04 $$$$$ 6% 27 19:1 24%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
20
Prairie State College
92.97 $$$$$ 11% 14 16:1 13%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
21
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College
92.60 $$$$$ 9% 17 27:1 26%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
22
Kishwaukee College
92.17 $$$$$ 10% 17 21:1 18%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
23
Spoon River College
91.89 $$$$$ 27% 10 16:1 22%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
24
City Colleges of Chicago - Malcolm X College
91.76 $$$$$ 3% 11 29:1 8%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
25
City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J Daley College
91.73 $$$$$ 9% 10 38:1 8%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
26
Morton College
91.60 $$$$$ 6% 10 20:1 15%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
27
City Colleges of Chicago - Harry S Truman College
91.43 $$$$$ 5% 10 29:1 12%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
28
City Colleges of Chicago - Wilbur Wright College
91.30 $$$$$ 2% 9 33:1 14%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
29
Rend Lake College
91.27 $$$$$ 44% 30 15:1 51%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
30
City Colleges of Chicago-Olive-Harvey College
90.96 $$$$$ 3% 8 30:1 9%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
31
Richland Community College
90.60 $$$$$ 31% 30 16:1 21%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
32
Kaskaskia College
90.55 $$$$$ 19% 38 20:1 46%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
33
Shawnee Community College
90.51 $$$$$ 44% 21 16:1 28%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
34
Carl Sandburg College
90.03 $$$$$ 33% 20 15:1 26%

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35
Illinois Central College
89.75 $$$$$ 26% 28 18:1 23%

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36
College of Lake County
89.70 $$$$$ 9% 39 17:1 17%

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37
Lincoln Land Community College
89.42 $$$$$ 11% 24 21:1 25%

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38
Kankakee Community College
89.16 $$$$$ 16% 23 14:1 20%

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39
John A Logan College
88.82 $$$$$ 7% 29 23:1 26%

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40
Heartland Community College
88.11 $$$$$ 8% 19 19:1 23%

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41
Moraine Valley Community College
87.84 $$$$$ 6% 26 25:1 20%

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42
Rock Valley College
87.66 $$$$$ 4% 19 16:1 22%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
43
Illinois Valley Community College
86.96 $$$$$ 6% 19 16:1 30%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
44
McHenry County College
86.46 $$$$$ N/A 14 19:1 24%

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RankSchool Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad Rate Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
99.83 $$$$$ 79% 11 15:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
2
Lewis University
99.49 $$$$$ 99% 6 13:1 59%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
3
Loyola University Chicago
98.89 $$$$$ 93% 2 14:1 70%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
4
Robert Morris University Illinois
98.58 $$$$$ 82% 6 21:1 73%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
5
Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences
98.01 $$$$$ N/A 2 10:1 N/A

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
6
Northwestern University
98.01 $$$$$ 54% 2 7:1 93%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More

Find Vocational & Trade Schools in Illinois

Career and technical education (CTE) programs in Illinois are a combination of core academic courses and specialized classes in preparation for high-wage careers. The Illinois Department of Education reveals career and technical education opportunities are essential for the state’s economic growth, especially in areas of business, industrial technology, family and consumer science, agriculture, and health occupations.

Use this search tool to find accredited vocational and trade schools in Illinois that meet your educational and career goals:

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Illinois Vocational Training Snapshot

34,393 students in Illinois were members of a state-recognized Career & Technical Student Organization (CTSOs) in the 2014-2015 school year.

Skilled trades, technician, and administrative jobs are among the top ten jobs that employers in the United States are having difficulty filling, as of 2015.

For five years in a row, Illinois has surpassed the national performance averages for awarding credentials, certificates, or diplomas.

25% of jobs in Illinois are related to agriculture, making vocational and trade education in this field a suitable choice for students.

By the Numbers: Vocational Certificates and Diplomas in Illinois

According to 2010 statistics from the Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education, the percentage of students in Illinois completing less-than-one-year certificate programs is higher than the national average. The percentage of students completing a one-year certificate at an accredited trade school is just under the national average. The percentage of students in Illinois completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is just about the same as the national average.

Distribution of Undergraduate Certificates & Degrees

Credential Illinois National
<1-year certificate 20.4% 14.7%
1-year certificate 9.9% 12.6%
Associate’s degree 24.7% 24.7%
Bachelor’s degree 45.3% 48.0%

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2010)

Growing Industries for Vocational Grads in Illinois

Occupations expected to have the highest growth rates and wealth of job opportunities available throughout the state are centered on health care, science and technology, education, and beauty services. There is an ongoing demand for licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants throughout the state, and those with a background in education may find a variety of opportunities at public and private schools. Specialized trades, such as haircutting and styling, cosmetologists, and skincare services, are also in high demand in Illinois. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the strongest areas of employment in the state in July 2015 were in the business services, education and health services, government, and leisure and hospitality industries.

Here is a closer look at employment statistics and median salary data for some of the most in-demand careers for vocational school graduates in Illinois:

Careers with the Most Job Openings in Illinois

Occupation 2012 Employment Projected Annual Job Openings Percent Growth
(2012-2022)
Median Wage
(Illinois, 2014)
Median Wage
(National, 2014)
Postsecondary, Non-Degree (Some College)
Nursing Assistants 61,430 2,110 15% $23,700 $25,100
Heavy and Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers 67,750 1,990 13% $42,400 $39,500
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) 23,110 1,020 20% $44,600 $42,500
Teacher Assistants 41,460 1,020 2% $24,900 $24,400
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 25,380 870 11% $22,200 $23,100
Two-Year Associate’s Degree
Registered Nurses 113,100 3,380 11% $66,100 $66,600
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 16,540 520 4% $27,400 $28,100
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 11,930 400 18% $47,100 $48,300
Dental Hygienists 8,140 280 9% $69,300 $71,500
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 5,920 250 16% $41,000 $38,400

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Career One Stop

Vocational Opportunities Inside and Outside Chicago

The busy hub of Chicago is home to several training institutes and specialized trade schools for those looking to complete a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program. Many schools in the Windy City specialize in beauty and cosmetology, culinary arts, technology and business.

Since Chicago is a metropolitan city, graduates of vocational and trade schools in Illinois will find a wealth of job opportunities in areas of business, marketing, computer education, health science technology, engineering, and family and consumer sciences. Demand for and employment of nurses is strong throughout the State of Illinois and many schools prepare students for jobs at major healthcare organizations and hospitals in Chicago and other major cities, including the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Farms and agricultural businesses on the outskirts of Chicago may be recruiting those who have completed a comprehensive agricultural education at an accredited school. Companies including Great Plains Management, LLC, Hertz Farm Management, Syngenta and Acres Group seek talent in the area.

Joining Chicago chapters of organizations and networking events hosted by organizations such as the Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, and Business Professionals of America can help those with a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program connect with hiring managers and find other industry professionals.

Resources and Professional Associations in Illinois

Helps students develop sound business and professional skills for their future careers. The Illinois chapter hosts conferences and other events for members and elects officers each year.

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) is the oldest business student organization in the world. The Illinois chapter hosts a number of events and activities specifically for business students and leaders throughout the year.

Partnered with STEM premier to provide resources for those involved in health care and related fields. Supports the objectives of health professionals, including nurses and nurse assistants.

Formerly known as the future homemakers of America, this organization helps students become better leaders within their families and communities. Students learn invaluable life skills to manage a household effectively and contribute to their community in positive ways.

State coordinating board for all community colleges in Illinois and also administers the Public Community College Act to ensure area community colleges are best serving the community. Features resources for students, including financial aid information and events.

This state-approved organization helps students become academically prepared, professionally responsible, and community oriented with skills development opportunities, conferences, and other special events.

Provides leadership, personal growth, and career opportunities for Illinois students and professionals working in the agricultural industry. Hosts special events for members and offers service learning grants.

Features a comprehensive listing of Illinois schools, learning standards, and agency programs. Also lists news updates about results from statewide assessments and other information affecting educational programs throughout the state.

Comprehensive resource for CTE students and those considering careers that require CTE training. Includes downloadable career guides and in-depth information about top program areas.