Online Vocational Trade Schools & Degrees

Online Studies in Real-World Career Training

The demand for skilled and qualified workers in middle skill jobs—those requiring less than a bachelor’s degree—continues to increase. In fact, the Center for Education and the Workforce projects that more than one-third of all jobs in the US will require vocational training for employment by 2020. The following guide provides a high-level overview of vocational degrees and the relevant online learning options in fields ranging from personal care to construction, automotive repair to health care.

Top 2016-2017 Online Vocational Schools

Prospective students looking to study a specific career that may prepare them for employment after graduation may benefit from enrolling in an online vocational school. With hands-on learning techniques and areas of study including HVAC training to dental hygiene, many schools now offer vocational programs to meet the high demands of college-bound individuals. To help students choose the right school for them, we analyzed every school with an online vocational school and created a list of the top schools based on factors such as cost of tuition, class size and graduation rates. Learn about the best online vocational schools for 2016-2017 here.

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
East Mississippi Community College
99.80 $$$$$ 78% 23 12:1 27%

Established in 1927, East Mississippi Community College currently serves 5,500 students hailing from all across the state. EMCC offers two-year degrees and vocational certificates. Students who cannot attend classes at the Scooba campus or eight satellite campus locations can take online classes to fulfill their course requirements. The online college library is accessible 24 hours a day. At EMCC, all online learning is provided through the Mississippi Virtual Community College. Online classes are conducted via the Canvas learning interface. Prospective online students are encouraged to take the SmarterMeasure assessment to see if they are well suited to distance learning.

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2
Crowder College
99.31 $$$$$ 18% 20 15:1 22%

Crowder College opened in 1964, providing instruction to an initial 378 students. It has since grown up on a 600-acre campus and four learning centers serving more than over 5,500 students. Online students can take courses that make up associate of arts transfer degrees, associate of science and associate of applied science degrees. There are also more than 20 one-year certificate programs. Online courses have firm start and ending dates and may substitute for campus-attendance requirements. Distance learners are graded on test scores, homework, and final projects. While some class assignments may be completed on a smart phone, students are expected to have access to a computer.

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3
Hutchinson Community College
99.22 $$$$$ 59% 23 15:1 29%

In 1928, the school that was to become Hutchinson Community College opened to an enrollment of 172 freshmen and 15 sophomores. The main HCC campus and extension centers in McPherson and Newton today provide nearly 6,000 students with a choice of 120 academic degree/certificate majors and 1,300 courses each semester. For online students, HCC offers 250 courses online, making it possible to complete an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree or a specialty certificate from the location of their choice. Online classes have flexible start dates and allow students to proceed through the curriculum at their own pace.

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4
State Fair Community College
98.92 $$$$$ 14% 18 17:1 21%

Located in Sedalia, State Fair Community College serves more than 4,000 students in the west central Missouri region. Along with an Associate of Arts transfer degree, SFCC has 65 degree and certificate programs in business, career and technical fields, and the arts and sciences. Four complete degree programs are offered entirely online, including the Associate of Arts two-year transfer degree, an associate degree or certificate in medical assisting, and associate of applied science in business management. Other SFCC degree and certificate programs offer a mixed format, combining on-campus classes with online studies. Online students receive 24/7 technical support.

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5
Tulsa Community College
98.85 $$$$$ 39% 29 17:1 14%

Tulsa Community College was founded in 1970. Today TCC serves 27,000 campus-based and online students a year with associate degree and certificate options. Distance learners can choose from three undergraduate certificates and 16 two-year associate degree programs - all conducted entirely online. Major fields offered online include engineering/applied technology, global learning, health sciences, liberal arts/communication, visual/performing arts, and science/mathematics. Courses are conducted via the Blackboard Online Learning Management System. Blackboard facilitates the use of live chats, email, bulletin boards, and multimedia presentations. All distance students must take the Online Learning Orientation before enrolling in online classes.

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6
New Mexico Junior College
98.71 $$$$$ 34% 14 18:1 18%

New Mexico Junior College, serving Lee County, presents more than 640 courses each semester that lead to associate's degrees in science, applied science, and the arts. Students can also pursue academic and vocational certificates. Online courses can be taken in a variety of formats, including web only, web hybrids (with at least 30% of the class online), or web enhanced (campus courses with online components). Students must complete 64 credit hours to complete an online associate of arts or associate of science degree. NMJC's T-Bid Web Portal connects online students with the Canvas online course delivery software.

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7
Metropolitan Community College
98.67 $$$$$ 20% 47 14:1 12%

Created by Nebraska State Legislature in 1974, Metropolitan Community College today offers its 26,388 students a choice of more than a hundred associate degrees or one- and two-year career certificate/achievement programs. Students can complete an associate degree in more than 15 major fields or 11 certificate programs entirely online. The online course sequence follows the MCC quarter system, with classes beginning in September, December, March, and June. Online students planning to transfer to a four-year institution will find two-year academic transfer degrees in business, general studies, liberal arts and sciences.

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8
San Juan College
98.46 $$$$$ 28% 39 20:1 13%

Students can choose from 120 two-year degrees and certificate programs at San Juan College. Serving the Four Corners area with advanced technology and facilities, SJC offers classes at its Farmington campus and online. More than 200 classes are offered online during the fall, spring and summer sessions. Online students can pursue four allied health and safety programs, and three associate of arts degree programs. Majors served by online studies include accounting, allied health, arts, chemistry, micro-computing, business, economics, education, energy systems, mathematics, physics and veterinary medicine. Students can use the online Academic Advising and Counseling Center to help plan their studies and class schedules.

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9
Pamlico Community College
98.37 $$$$$ 11% 8 9:1 67%

Pamlico Community College was founded in 1962 as an industrial education center and has grown into an accredited two year community college. Students pursuing associate degrees may be qualified to transfer to four-year degree programs at East Carolina University. PCC offers associate degrees in arts, science, and applied science in more than 20 major fields and a dozen continuing education programs. PCC Online supports distance students throughout the Carolinas, offering classes in all the majors through the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus. The course curriculum is identical to the content of face-to-face classes and offers the same credit.

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10
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
98.33 $$$$$ 11% 43 15:1 16%

Founded in 1969, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offers education at its main campus in Clifton and branches in Harrison and Evendale. Its 10,600 students can select a course of study from more than 75 associate degrees and 40 certificate programs. CSTC's allied health and engineering degree programs are among the most-popular at the college. For online students, there are seven associate degrees in the Business Technology division, three degrees from the Center for Innovative Technologies, and two Health and Safety associate degrees - all 100 percent online. Students seeking a generalist degree can complete an online Associate in Arts at CSTC.

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
11
Barton County Community College
97.96 $$$$$ 71% 16 25:1 30%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
12
Panola College
97.89 $$$$$ 24% 13 18:1 20%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
13
Seward County Community College and Area Technical School
97.79 $$$$$ 76% 17 15:1 32%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
14
Sinclair College
97.65 $$$$$ 28% 46 15:1 17%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
15
Southwest Virginia Community College
97.28 $$$$$ 58% 19 24:1 32%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
16
Central Texas College
97.09 $$$$$ 13% 23 18:1 14%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
17
Gateway Community and Technical College
96.92 $$$$$ 9% 27 12:1 34%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
18
Madisonville Community College
96.66 $$$$$ 22% 18 14:1 30%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
19
West Kentucky Community and Technical College
96.58 $$$$$ 1% 33 14:1 38%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
20
St Philip's College
96.54 $$$$$ 15% 48 15:1 4%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
21
Bluegrass Community and Technical College
96.50 $$$$$ 2% 34 16:1 18%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
22
Southwestern Oregon Community College
96.36 $$$$$ 51% 10 16:1 20%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
23
Three Rivers Community College
96.34 $$$$$ 17% 17 24:1 17%

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24
Central Georgia Technical College
96.09 $$$$$ N/A 64 15:1 31%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
25
Bramson ORT College
95.94 $$$$$ 74% 6 13:1 37%

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26
Fayetteville Technical Community College
95.92 $$$$$ 1% 49 20:1 7%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
27
Georgia Piedmont Technical College
95.80 $$$$$ N/A 36 17:1 20%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
28
Great Falls College Montana State University
95.78 $$$$$ 11% 14 18:1 17%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
29
Western Nebraska Community College
95.53 $$$$$ 60% 13 15:1 23%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
30
North Dakota State College of Science
95.49 $$$$$ 31% 32 12:1 47%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
31
Spokane Community College
95.41 $$$$$ 14% 33 17:1 26%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
32
Ozarks Technical Community College
95.15 $$$$$ 4% 27 23:1 20%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
33
Georgia Northwestern Technical College
95.10 $$$$$ N/A 61 19:1 19%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
34
Moraine Park Technical College
95.08 $$$$$ 14% 27 15:1 35%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
35
San Antonio College
95.07 $$$$$ 9% 28 19:1 7%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
36
Lakeshore Technical College
94.78 $$$$$ 19% 24 13:1 39%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
37
Central Piedmont Community College
94.78 $$$$$ 3% 44 19:1 12%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
38
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
94.73 $$$$$ 5% 29 21:1 32%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
39
Collin College
94.59 $$$$$ 2% 25 26:1 11%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
40
Atlanta Technical College
94.59 $$$$$ 33% 53 16:1 24%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
41
Grayson College
94.39 $$$$$ 20% 21 18:1 19%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
42
Tyler Junior College
94.39 $$$$$ 17% 20 21:1 15%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
43
Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar
94.28 $$$$$ 12% 23 14:1 29%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
44
Columbus State Community College
94.20 $$$$$ 20% 45 19:1 8%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
45
Westmoreland County Community College
94.19 $$$$$ 4% 32 18:1 12%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
46
Shoreline Community College
94.08 $$$$$ 19% 11 17:1 26%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
47
Indian Hills Community College
94.05 $$$$$ 7% 27 17:1 21%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
48
Pitt Community College
93.95 $$$$$ 11% 31 17:1 13%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
49
Wallace State Community College - Hanceville
93.85 $$$$$ 21% 26 16:1 20%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
50
Volunteer State Community College
93.72 $$$$$ 10% 12 21:1 16%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
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
Washburn University
99.75 $$$$$ 58% 15 14:1 34%

More than 200 academic programs at Washburn University lead to associates, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees along with professional certifications. Approximately 7,000 students pursue academic programs on Washburn's 160-acre campus in Topeka or online. Some degree and certificate programs are available entirely online, as are individual online courses from Washburn's Schools of Business, Nursing and Applied Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences (with 29 departments). The School of Applied Studies offers an online bachelor degree and four certifications in allied health and radiologic science. Washburn participates in the online Partnership for Learning and Networking (PLAN) that allows students with associate degrees in five fields to complete their bachelor's degree online.

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
2
Weber State University
99.49 $$$$$ 50% 28 21:1 45%

Since 1899, Weber State University has served Utah students. Today WSU offers more than 225 undergraduate degree and certificate programs, and 14 graduate degrees across its eight campus locations. Distance students may pursue entire degree and certification programs online, and campus-based students can take individual courses that make up part of their degree. Fully online bachelor's degrees are in health information management, health administration, medical laboratory science and integrated studies. Associate-level students can complete an AS or AAs degree in four online major fields. Online certificate-granting programs are also available in allied health.

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3
Siena Heights University
99.41 $$$$$ 99% 28 11:1 43%

Siena Heights University, founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1919, offers students a selection of bachelor and master's degrees from its seven Michigan locations and entirely online. Since 2004, Siena Heights University has offered online degree programs, which currently serve 300 full-time students from across the United States. Online undergraduate programs are conducted in flexible, eight-week formats. Blended graduate programs may be conducted in 10-week sessions, dividing time on campus with Internet studies. SHU's also has an online degree-completion program leading to bachelor's degrees in business administration, applied science, interdisciplinary studies and nursing (RN-BSN).

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4
University of Southern Mississippi
99.19 $$$$$ 74% 8 17:1 50%

From its humble beginnings as a small teachers' college in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi has grown into a doctoral and research institution serving more than 15,000 students worldwide. Students can choose from more than 340 programs that lead to undergraduate and graduate degrees at USM's six colleges. At Southern Miss, 11 undergraduate degree programs are available 100 percent online. There are also more than 20 wholly online degree programs at the graduate level. Professionals can enroll in online certificate-granting undergraduate or advanced programs. For students looking for campus face-time, USM offers 14 undergraduate/graduate degree programs in a hybrid format.

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5
Champlain College
98.88 $$$$$ 94% 8 14:1 64%

Champlain College, founded in 1878 in Burlington, has an impressive curriculum leading to 30 undergraduate degrees, 15 online continuing undergraduate degrees, and 14 online graduate degrees and certificates. Professional undergraduate certificates are also offered in technology, business, and health care. Some 2,183 students benefit from small classes that are taught by experienced faculty. Online degree and certificate programs at the college are conducted in accelerated seven-week sessions. Online bachelor degree programs are in business (four degree options), computer science (six degrees), cybersecurity (four bachelor pathways) and healthcare (IT or administration). The college uses the Canvas online learning system.

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6
St Petersburg College
98.65 $$$$$ 23% 24 22:1 N/A

St. Petersburg College became Florida's first two-year college when founded in 1927 and was the first two-year institution in the state to award a bachelor degree. Today students may find a major among SPC's 100 degree and certificate programs. Wholly online degree programs at SPC are extensive, making up Florida's largest program of its kind. The eCampus offers 15 associate of science degrees, 25 certificate programs, eight bachelor of applied science degrees, four bachelor of science degree programs, and two continuing education programs for teachers. More than 650 individual courses are offered entirely online.

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7
Kennesaw State University
98.26 $$$$$ 1% 8 21:1 37%

From its campuses in Marietta, Kennesaw and online, Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia. Some 33,000 students participate in the more than 150 programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees from KSU's 14 academic colleges. For online students, KSU has bachelor degrees in business, computing, engineering, integrative studies, logistics/operations, geography and sociology. Online students can also pursue certificate programs in business, social science, and engineering technology. Campus-based students can also augment their studies through more than 500 undergraduate and graduate-level online classes across the curriculum. More than 2,500 online classes are offered each year through The College of Continuing and Professional Education.

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8
University of Mississippi
98.05 $$$$$ 61% 4 18:1 60%

The flagship college and largest university in the state, the University of Mississippi has offered classes to its students since 1848. Home to a law school, medical school, and 15 academic divisions, Ole Miss currently serves a student population of 23,838. Ole Miss Online specializes in delivering master's degrees, education specialist credentials and certifications to distance students. Business students can pursue a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree entirely online. The School of Education directs an online program leading to graduate certificates and endorsements. Semester-based, self-paced online courses are also available for students undertaking conventional, on-campus programs.

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9
Florida International University
97.66 $$$$$ 48% 6 26:1 49%

Florida International University, established in 1965, was Miami's first public research university offering programs leading to bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. FIU is located at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus in West Miami-Dade County and the Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami Beach. Distance students can pursue degrees, certificates, and credentials or take individual courses through FIU Online. Graduate students can enroll in 20 wholly online master's or doctoral programs. Twenty online undergraduate degree programs include BA, BS, BAS, BBA options. FIU Continuing and Professional Education department currently offers online Business Advancement, National Security, and Paralegal Studies certificates.

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10
Fort Hays State University
97.60 $$$$$ 72% 3 17:1 41%

With more than 20-years of distance education experience, Fort Hays State University has more than 40 online degree programs leading associate, bachelor's or master's degrees. At the four-year level, Fort Hays offers more than 20 bachelor degree majors in fields including business, computer science, education, health studies, information technology, criminal justice, management, nursing (RN-BSN), psychology, management and tourism/hospitality. Online students can opt for a bachelor of general studies degree that tailors curriculum to their goals. Graduate students can complete one of 15 online master's degrees. Note: Online graduate counseling and psychology degree programs require limited on-campus attendance.

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
11
Western Carolina University
97.60 $$$$$ 67% 5 16:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
12
East Carolina University
97.50 $$$$$ 50% 5 18:1 58%

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13
Western Kentucky University
97.40 $$$$$ 37% 11 18:1 50%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
14
Hodges University
97.09 $$$$$ 37% 6 15:1 18%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
15
Hampton University
96.18 $$$$$ 47% 4 9:1 59%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
16
University of Hartford
96.15 $$$$$ 97% 8 10:1 52%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
17
Indiana State University
95.97 $$$$$ 75% 5 20:1 43%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
18
Northern Arizona University
95.92 $$$$$ 66% 4 18:1 49%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
19
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
95.69 $$$$$ N/A 7 7:1 N/A

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
20
MCPHS University
95.20 $$$$$ 85% 4 24:1 66%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
21
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
95.20 $$$$$ 98% 3 8:1 62%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
22
Utah Valley University
95.11 $$$$$ 33% 32 22:1 17%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
23
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
94.75 $$$$$ 47% 3 12:1 91%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
24
Roger Williams University
94.67 $$$$$ 89% 7 15:1 61%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
25
SUNY College of Technology at Canton
94.57 $$$$$ 16% 15 17:1 32%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
26
University of North Dakota
94.40 $$$$$ 30% 4 19:1 52%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
27
Misericordia University
94.26 $$$$$ 99% 4 13:1 68%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
28
Northern State University
94.17 $$$$$ 67% 4 18:1 46%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
29
Oregon Institute of Technology
94.07 $$$$$ 63% 8 19:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
30
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
93.96 $$$$$ 59% 9 18:1 54%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
31
Old Dominion University
93.76 $$$$$ 41% 3 20:1 49%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
32
College of Southern Nevada
93.74 $$$$$ 20% 47 24:1 N/A

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
33
Tiffin University
93.73 $$$$$ 92% 3 18:1 33%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
34
North Carolina Central University
93.47 $$$$$ 81% 1 15:1 43%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
35
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
93.22 $$$$$ 11% 3 19:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
36
Liberty University
93.17 $$$$$ 78% 4 18:1 46%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
37
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
92.10 $$$$$ 73% 5 20:1 62%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
38
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology
92.09 $$$$$ 87% 7 15:1 57%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
39
Pennsylvania College of Technology
92.06 $$$$$ 9% 35 18:1 40%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
40
Granite State College
91.83 $$$$$ N/A 1 12:1 50%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
41
Buena Vista University
91.72 $$$$$ 100% 1 9:1 51%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
42
California State University-East Bay
91.71 $$$$$ 52% 4 27:1 41%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
43
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
91.69 $$$$$ 34% 4 19:1 53%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
44
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
91.36 $$$$$ 60% 2 17:1 70%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
45
Ferris State University
91.35 $$$$$ 63% 27 16:1 53%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
46
South Dakota State University
91.14 $$$$$ 53% 4 17:1 56%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
47
University of Bridgeport
91.03 $$$$$ 95% 5 17:1 32%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
48
The University of Alabama
90.79 $$$$$ 53% 1 21:1 67%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
49
Clayton State University
90.74 $$$$$ 8% 4 18:1 28%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
50
University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center
90.67 $$$$$ N/A 3 8:1 N/A

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More

Online Vocational School Search Tool

Prospective students interested in exploring educational options, planning their academic futures, and finding the right type of training necessary to pursue a career can use the search tool below to learn more about vocational schools that meet their personal, professional, and academic needs.

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Online Vocational Trade School Subject Map

Vocational career training prepares students to enter specific career fields that require specialized skill sets, such as automotive repair, medical assisting, and heating and air conditioning installation and repair. In order to serve the needs of their students, vocational education providers—including community colleges, technical schools, and trade schools—have launched online programs that offer alternative learning methods to meet the needs of those students. Below is an overview of some major fields of study and different degree options available to prospective vocational students.

Medical Support

Health care is one of the largest occupational fields in the country and medical support—a specialized branch of careers—employs approximately 4 million people nationally. Even though the majority of these roles are vocational in nature, they are critical to delivering high quality patient care in every sector of the health industry—from nursing to dental care. Prospective students can select from a spectrum of vocational certificate, diploma and associate programs that can be completed in as few as a few months and up to two years of study.

Medical Transcription

Online medical transcription programs are designed to teach students the fundamentals of transcribing healthcare documents. Traditionally offered as a certificate, these programs can be completed in as little as four months to one year of study. Curriculum covers topics ranging from HIPPAA regulations to body systems technology, pharmacology to healthcare documentation. Students gain practical skills in transcribing medical records in different specialties, such as cardiology, internal medicine, pathology, and urology. Graduates are qualified to pursue careers as medical transcriptionists and pursue certification after meeting professional experience requirements.

Medical Billing and Coding

Medical billing and coding programs cover major topics including the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, ICD-CM Coding and Current Procedural Terminology. Offered as either a career diploma or certificate, medical billing and coding programs typically require between 10 months and one-year of full-time study to complete. Students take courses in topics such as medical terminology, medical office procedures and health insurance. Graduates of these programs can sit for the AAPC Certified Professional Coder examination and pursue a range of professional opportunities such as coding specialist or medical biller.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy tech programs are career-focused, teaching students about the core concepts of pharmacy operations, from verifying and preparing medications to dispensing medications to patients. The goal of these career diploma programs is to prepare students to sit for national certification examinations, including the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) or the ExCPT Pharmacy Technician certification. Curriculum is directly tied professional knowledge and skill development, covering courses in pharmacology, pharmaceutical measurements and calculations, and medication safety. Upon graduation, students can pursue a variety of career avenues, including pharmacy clerk or pharmacy technician.

Patient Care

Since 2010, nearly 1 million jobs in health care have been created, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While many associate patient care with nurses and doctors, the field is much more broad, encompassing multiple vocational career avenues in areas such as radiology, nursing, and diagnostic imaging. Education options are just as varied, spanning short multi-week programs to full two-year associate degree programs.

Radiology Technology

Radiology tech requires the completion of a two-year associate degree. In these programs, students develop career skills in radiographic imaging. Coursework covers topics such as body positioning, examination techniques, radiographic biology, radiation safety and human anatomy. Graduates of these associate degree programs are traditionally qualified to sit for the Radiography Certification Examination from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. After completing their education, students can move into entry-level positions such as radiologic technologist, X-ray technologist, and radiologic technician.

Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapy students can complete an online Associate of Occupational Science in respiratory therapy or an Associate of Science in respiratory therapy. These two-year programs are designed to prepare graduates to sit for certification examinations from the National Board for Respiratory Care: Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Curriculum is divided between online coursework and clinical instruction and includes topics such as anatomy and physiology and advanced career-focused classes in topics including respiratory procedures, cardiopulmonary diagnostic testing and critical care monitoring. Graduates are qualified to pursue entry-level employment as respiratory therapists.

Paramedic

Paramedic vocational training is typically offered via hybrid programs—programs that include both in-person and online instruction. This instruction involves didactic (online classes), clinical and field practice. Students are typically assigned to a local clinical setting to complete required clinical hours (usually more than 300). In these settings, students can apply their didactic knowledge and gain clinical experience. The field internship is a proctored, experiential learning requirement where students complete real-world tasks under direct supervision to prepare for their day-to-day responsibilities. Students can enter into entry-level work as an emergency management technician (EMT) after graduation or pursue additional training to qualify to work as a paramedic.

Technology & Skilled Trades

Middle skill jobs—those that require postsecondary education, but not a college degree—not only account for the most jobs in the country, but are some of the fastest growing fields as well. According to Economic Modeling Specialists, approximately 2.5 million middle skill jobs are expected to be created. An expansive employment field, students can enroll in a variety of programs, such as construction, cosmetology, auto repair, information technology, plumbing, and more.

Cosmetology

Cosmetology programs provide students with fundamental training in the basics of hair, skin and nail care. Students develop product knowledge, study the theory of hair styling techniques, learn about manicure and pedicure methods and build communication skills to work with clients. Blending online instruction with in-person lab training, the study of cosmetology can prepare graduates for an array of professional opportunities in each specialization. To work professionally, graduates must meet state licensing requirements, which also typically includes an examination.

HVAC

HVAC/R online career diploma programs provide students with a central understanding of how to inspect and repair heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems in both homes and commercial properties. Graduates are traditionally eligible to take EPA certification examinations, which are required for any professional handling refrigerants. Curriculum is broad in scope, reviewing not only the core concepts in heating and cooling systems, but advanced instruction in system design and installation, green technology systems, and absorption systems. After graduation and passing the EPA examination, students may pursue entry-level employment as HVAC/R technicians.

Help Desk

Help desk technician programs concentrate in two areas: conflict management skills and technical knowledge. Graduates of these programs are trained to help IT customers, troubleshoot hardware, software, and network problems, and install computing systems. Curriculum covers the basics of the profession, including classes in topics such as an introduction to computer support, computer hardware fundamentals and troubleshooting. After completing the program, students may choose to take certification examinations, such as the HDI-Desktop Support Technician certification and pursue entry-level employment in occupations such as desktop technician or customer support representative.

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Online Vocational Certificates, Diplomas and Training

Vocational certificate and diploma programs are not considered degrees, but an award conferred by an educational institution after the student completes a formal postsecondary program of study. Program length varies tremendously: Some certificate programs require only a few weeks of study, while others may take up two years to complete. Example career areas that fall under this umbrella include emergency medical technicians, nursing aides, and hairstylists.

Program Spotlight: Online Medical Assistant Diploma

Online diploma programs in medical assisting are designed to prepare students for career opportunities in patient care support and management. Medical assistants perform a variety of clinical, administrative and laboratory tasks in health care settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. Depending on the institution, diploma programs may require between 50 and 60 credit-hours of study to complete and typically include a clinical externship conducted in the student’s local area.

Medical Assistant Courses

Course Description
Medical Terminology

In this course, students study medical language, including spelling, pronunciation, word roots, and suffixes. Students apply this knowledge when studying major body systems, such as the nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.

Medical Coding

This class covers the basics of medical coding principles, including a review of health insurance policies, claims, and terminology.

Anatomy and Physiology

This class provides students with an in-depth examination of the human body, its body systems, tissues, and structure.

Medical Office Management

In this course, students explore the operation of a medical office, along with the role and responsibilities of the medical assistant. Subjects covered range from private information privacy to appointment scheduling, administrative tasks to managing patient charts.

Skills Learned
  • Clinical skills (e.g. phlebotomy, administer medication, conduct electrocardiograms)
  • Knowledge of medical billing and coding practices
  • Administrative skills (e.g. scheduling appointments)
  • Demonstrate understanding of scope of the medical assistant’s role
Future Opportunities
  • Clinical medical assistant
  • Certified medical assistant
  • Administrative medical assistant
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Online Vocational Associate Degrees

Associate degrees generally require at least two years, but no more than four years of full-time of academic coursework. While associate degree programs are career-specific, they also usually include general education requirements as well. Example vocational career paths at this level include respiratory therapist, dental hygienist, and electronic technician.

Program Spotlight: Online Associate of Science in Electronics Technology

An online associate degree program in electronics technology provides graduates with specialized knowledge of analog and digital electronics that positions them to follow a wealth of career avenues in fields ranging from power plant operations to communications, engineering to manufacturing. Students are typically expected to complete between 60 and 66 semester credit hours over two years to earn their degree.

Associate of Science in Electronics Technology Courses

Course Description
Computer Architecture

This course covers topics revolving around computer design, including the study of digital systems, computer interface design, and memory system organization.

Circuit Analysis

This class introduces students to voltage and related topics of resistance, power and current. Students learn about the fundamentals of circuit analysis, how to use industry tools, and best practices for circuit testing and measurements.

Digital Design

This class serves as an introduction to digital systems, including their analysis and design. Subjects of study range from number systems to Boolean logic, algebra to specific digital components (e.g. SSI and MSI).

Electronic Design

This class provides students with fundamental instruction in planning and designing electronic circuits. Students gain an understanding of how to translate theory into hands-on applications of circuit design.

Skills Learned
  • Ability to analyze DC and AC electronics and circuits
  • Knowledge of embedded systems
  • Problem solving techniques
  • Communication skills
  • Digital electronics design
Future Opportunities
  • Electronics Technician
  • Electrical Engineering Technician
  • Calibration Technician
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Online Bachelor’s Vocational Degrees

Perhaps not surprisingly, the number of vocationally focused programs at the bachelor’s degree level is limited. However, there are options available to students interested in completing a longer series of courses that include general education classes. Examples of these longer, vocational-focused subjects include paralegal studies, dental hygiene, and vocational education—for students that want to become vocational educators and instructors. Four-year degrees generally require students to complete 124 to 128 semester credit hours of study divided between general education classes, core curriculum, major requirements, and electives.

Program Spotlight: Online Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Course Description
Introduction to Paralegal Practice

This course provides a high-level overview of the role of paralegal and offers a review of the legal system, paralegal practice, and professional ethics.

Civil Litigation

This class serves as an introduction to the foundational concepts of civil ligation, including procedure, and covers the role of the paralegal in civil lawsuits.

Legal Research and Writing

In this course students develop the basic writing, analysis, and research skills necessary to draft legal correspondence.

Commercial Law

This class offers a comprehensive look at commercial law and the paralegal’s role, covering topics such as the Uniform Commercial Code and drafting commercial law correspondence.

Skills Learned
  • Develop and implement legal research plans
  • Writing and communication skills
  • Ability to draft well-written legal correspondence
  • Skills to apply legal concepts in different areas of law
  • Knowledge of paralegal ethical obligations
Future Opportunities
  • Paralegal/Legal Assistant
  • Law Clerk
  • Claims Adjuster
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Online Vocational Master’s Degrees

Vocational degrees do not exist at the graduate level. With that said, there are multiple vocational career paths that transition naturally into continued education in bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Below is a list of example vocational careers areas that have natural progression into advanced studies.

Medical Assisting

Master of Science in Nursing

Electronics Technology

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

Construction

Master of Science in Construction Administration

Respiratory Therapy

Master of Science in Respiratory Care Leadership

Pharmacy Tech

Master of Science in Pharmacology

Financial Aid for Online Education FAQs

Financing a vocational education can be daunting, if not challenging for many students. Below is a list of commonly asked questions regarding paying for an online vocational program.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Financial aid is typically available for schools that qualify under the Title IV Federal Financial Aid program. The type of financial aid depends on the qualifications of the students and eligibility requirements for state, federal or other sources of financial aid. This includes Federal Direct Loans, Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants.

Are scholarships available for vocational students?

Yes. Students in two-year vocational or CTE programs may qualify for both needs- and merit-based scholarships. Scholarships are available from a variety of sources, including community organizations, professional associations, businesses, and vocational schools themselves. For example, Universal Technical Institute, a school that offers training in auto service and mechanical repair, has provided approximately $15 million in scholarships to students in 2015.

Where can students find information about scholarships?

Scholarship information is available from a variety of sources, including scholarship websites such as FastWeb and Unigo, media publications including US News and World Report and Peterson’s, and professional associations such as ASHRAE (HVAC) and businesses such as Express Scripts (Pharmacy Technician).

Are other supplementary funding sources available?

Yes. Depending on the institution, students may be eligible for funding from additional programs including the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Trade Adjustment/Realignment Act) (TAA/TRA), or vocational rehabilitation. The WIA is a government-sponsored program that provides funding to individuals who are unemployed (or underemployed) so they may develop career skills. TAA/TRA is a program that sets aside funds to provide training to individuals who lost their job because it was moved overseas. Vocational rehabilitation funding programs are designed to support the education of individuals who experience employment barriers because of a mental or physical handicap.

Learn more about funding an online education with our financial aid guide.

The Tools That Make Vocational Study Online Possible

Vocational careers are largely hands-on, practical occupations. So, how does that translate to online learning? The amount of learning a student completes online actually varies by program. Some programs, such as medical transcription, can be completed entirely online. Others, such as medical assisting, require a combination of online and in-person study. Below is an overview of the tools and methods used by vocational institutions to train students.

Online Content Management Systems

Online courses take place in online learning platforms. These platforms allow students to access their course materials at any time, communicate with other students and the instructor, submit assignments, and participate in discussion sessions. Example content management systems include Blackboard and WebCampus.

Asynchronous Learning

Online vocational instruction is traditionally delivered in an asynchronous format, which means students control the pace, determine when they log-in to the online learning platform, and complete assignments according to their schedule.

Instructional Materials

Although students can access their materials online, many programs—such as HVAC diploma programs—mail students printed learning materials, study guides, and textbooks.

Technology

Online vocational programs require students to have a computer and Internet access to complete their work. Technology requirements vary by educational institution.

Hands-on Training

Complementing the online, concept-based instruction are field practicums and externships. Practicums and externships are in-person, experiential training sessions that provide students an opportunity to develop professional skills beyond the classroom. Programs such as medical assisting, radiography, and cosmetology are just a few examples of the types of vocational programs that require experiential learning. Typically, students work with their educational institution to find a local placement to complete their training, such as in a hospital, laboratory, or private business.

How to Evaluate Online Vocational Programs

Because vocational training is career-specific, choosing the right educational institution is paramount to achieving future employment success. Making sure the online program offers the proper mix of rigorous academic and skill-based instruction, as well as personal and professional support services allows students to make an informed decision about which program to choose. Below is a checklist of factors to consider prior to enrolling in a vocational program of any type.

  • Is the school accredited?

    Accreditation is an indicator of the school’s quality. It means the school has invested efforts to adhere to academic standards and training guidelines established by accrediting agency. Because not every vocational school is accredited, students should check the US Department of Education’s list of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.

  • Is the school licensed?

    Many states require technical and/or career colleges to be licensed to offer vocational courses and programs. In fact, some states even require the school to hold a license to operate legally. Check with the state’s Department of Education to see if the vocational provider holds a valid and active license. Another resource is to check with the school directly and ask which state agency handles educational licensing.

  • What are the admission requirements?

    Different schools may require different admissions requirements for the same program of study (e.g. medical assisting). Prior to enrolling, students should review the admissions process and required documentation? Does the school require students to hold a high school diploma or have previous industry experience? Are they required to take prerequisite courses? Do they need to submit standardized test scores?

  • Does the curriculum offer practical instruction?

    Before enrolling, students should review the online program’s curriculum. Just like their campus-based counterparts, online programs should provide students with practical skill development in that specific field. For example, the courses in an online medical billing certificate program should teach students about medical terminology, medical coding, and health insurance.

  • Does the school offer support services?

    As an online learner, access to academic and career services is important. Students should ensure their program offers assistance to online students, not only with standard services—such as tutoring or financial aid services—but career placement assistance to find a job after graduation.

  • Are faculty members qualified?

    The academic background and professional experience of the school’s faculty is another indicator of program quality. For a specific field of study (e.g. pharmacy technician or HVAC training), students should review their potential instructor’s experience in that area. Do they have industry knowledge? Do they hold specialized training or certifications? How long have they been teaching in online settings?

Vocational & Trade Training Resources

There are a variety of resources available, from government agencies to professional associations, to support vocational students. Below is a list of some of these resources, including career databases, employment profiles, student aid information, and career planning services.

  • Association for Career and Technical Education

    Commonly known as ACTE, the Association for Career and Technical Education is a nationwide association that is dedicated to advocating for vocational education and supporting students in their academic endeavors.

  • CareerOneStop

    Sponsored by the Department of Labor, Career One Stop offers a variety of resources to prospective vocational students include career planning tools, a list of profiles of vocational careers, and a database of local training programs.

  • College Navigator

    College Navigator is a database of information about any postsecondary institution and its programs, including vocational schools. Students can learn about a variety of items, such as tuition, enrollment rates, and programs offered.

  • Employment and Training Administration

    Through its ApprenticeshipsUSA program, the Employment and Training Administration offers a list of state apprenticeship websites-useful for vocational students seeking opportunities in their local area.

  • Federal Student Aid

    An office of the US Department of Education, Federal Student Aid is a one-stop informational hub about all things federal financial aid, including a breakdown of the different types of aid available and instructions for applying for aid.

  • My Next Move

    My Next Move was developed by the National Center for O*NET Development and is an interactive tool for individuals researching career options. They can browse industry profiles, learn about the skills, tasks, and salaries of a particular career, and even receive personal career suggestions.

  • National Career Development Association

    The National Career Development Association maintains a list of online resources and tools that users can leverage to plan a career path, locate appropriate training, or find career opportunities.

  • Occupational Employment Statistics

    Managed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics is a database of wage profiles and estimates for more than 800 occupations-allowing users to learn more about the earning potential of a specific career path.

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook

    Also maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes profiles of more than 800 careers, including an overview of the career’s responsibilities and tasks, educational requirements, and employment growth projections.

  • The Job Corps

    The Job Corps provides no-cost career and technical education programs to individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. Through a blend of classroom- and real-world instruction, students develop both employability and vocational skills.