Vocational &
Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

The value of vocational and trade school is no secret to Pennsylvanians. In fact, some of the oldest career academics in the United States were founded in the state. For example, Philadelphia Academies Inc. opened in 1969 to create a model that would prevent students from dropping out of high schools. Today, Pennsylvania offers career and technical programs at a number of public high schools and community colleges, including 87 that are dedicated solely to delivering vocational education. This page explores vocational education in Pennsylvania, and includes information on where students can find these programs and what jobs they qualify for after graduation.

Pennsylvania’s Best Vocational & Trade Schools: 2017

Our rankings serve as an outline of the numerous trade and vocational opportunities available in Pennsylvania. Manufacturing and healthcare are just two examples of growing industries where graduates from Pennsylvania’s various trade schools and community and career colleges can find employment. We make the search easier by including rankings of accredited Pennsylvania schools, based on a variety of factors such as tuition, financial aid availability, student-teacher ratio and the like.

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
Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg
98.84 $$$$$ 5% 53 15:1 11%

Harrisburg Area Community College – Harrisburg offers many associate degree programs that can translate into direct careers. The school allows student to search programs by desired subject/career. The two-year programs that prepare students to directly enter the workforce are labeled as “Career Associate,” and include programs like culinary arts and hospitality & tourism management. The school is notable for its general studies career associate degree that allows students to gain a wide array of general skills for the workforce. Students take courses in general education to boost core competencies, like written communication and critical thinking. On top of that, students take many courses that specifically prepare them for entering the career world with the updated skills they need.

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2
Westmoreland County Community College
97.73 $$$$$ 4% 32 18:1 12%

Westmoreland County Community College offers associate in applied science degrees that prepare students for working in a chosen field right after their two-year program. Students can pick from several programs across a variety of fields, like accounting, health professions and office technology. Many programs allow for a high degree of specialization, like the medical administration option or office administration option under the office technology category. Many programs also include internships. Students start courses that relate to the job in the first semester, with general education requirements throughout.

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3
Delaware County Community College
96.91 $$$$$ 2% 25 19:1 14%

Delaware County Community College offers low-cost, associate-level degrees for individuals seeking to transfer to 4-year baccalaureate programs or careers, whether the field is the arts and humanities or medical technology. To ensure a student’s successful transition into the professional realm, DCCC offers Career Coach, a program that connects individuals to careers and related opportunities in the Delaware Valley. DCCC draws from the strong partnership with the community for the benefit of students and the region. Students will use delaGATE, an online student portal, to organize their college experience. DCCC is ready to be your first step into the world of higher education.

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4
Luzerne County Community College
96.75 $$$$$ 3% 27 17:1 18%

Located in picturesque Northeastern Pennsylvania, Luzerne County Community College's 167-acre main campus has 11 satellite campuses offering a wide variety of associate degree options including medical technology, humanities and social sciences and the culinary arts. With on-campus career support from the Career Services Office, students have a large network available for transitioning from student to professional with the goal of giving alumni the competitive edge necessary in today’s job market. With low tuition costs and strong community support, LCCC offers flexible, current and technologically oriented curriculum to promote a lifelong pursuit of education and success.

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5
Harcum College
95.96 $$$$$ 94% 8 15:1 25%

At Harcum College, students can browse over 20 majors that cumulate in an associate degree, which students can use to enter the workforce directly or continue on to a four-year institution. Students typically start their career-related courses their first semester, with a composition course, and then other general education electives are taken throughout the rest of the program. Classes are small, around 16 students in each class, who are taught by skilled faculty members. Fieldwork, research, internships and other requirements complement the real-world courses. Students in certain programs will be prepared to take necessary licensing exams to enter their field.

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6
Community College of Philadelphia
95.71 $$$$$ N/A 17 16:1 10%

Community College of Philadelphia has many different programs across multiple different topics. Students can gain an associate in applied science, an associate in arts or an associate in science, all of which can be used to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year degree, according to the school. The school offers hands-on, direct-subject courses that will help students get started in in-demand fields. Students can find two-year degrees in the topics of architecture & construction, arts, design & media, business & technology, health care, law & public service, liberal arts, science, social & human services and technical/trade.

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7
Lackawanna College
95.34 $$$$$ 50% 6 16:1 26%

Lackawanna College has several associate programs for those wishing to gain a two-year education that allows for workforce entry directly after those two years. The programs have a strong base in general education requirements, like fundamentals of writing and critical reading. Nevertheless, courses related to the chosen career start in the first semester. There are also several electives from which to choose. The university prides itself on being a cost-effective option for achieving an education, while providing an avenue for students to gain workplace success. Some programs, like the physical therapy assistant program, include field experience for gaining direct job skills and allow students to sit for licensing exams.

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8
Lehigh Carbon Community College
94.85 $$$$$ 2% 15 17:1 14%

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9
Northampton County Area Community College
94.46 $$$$$ 4% 17 20:1 17%

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10
Butler County Community College
94.40 $$$$$ N/A 13 18:1 19%

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11
Bucks County Community College
94.39 $$$$$ 10% 10 15:1 12%

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12
Community College of Beaver County
94.33 $$$$$ 6% 9 17:1 23%

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13
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
94.24 $$$$$ 51% 5 16:1 52%

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14
Montgomery County Community College
94.14 $$$$$ 3% 15 20:1 16%

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15
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
93.78 $$$$$ 34% 6 14:1 44%

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16
Johnson College
93.59 $$$$$ 23% 6 18:1 61%

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17
Community College of Allegheny County
93.28 $$$$$ N/A 51 19:1 9%

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18
Rosedale Technical Institute
93.26 $$$$$ 5% 7 16:1 78%

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19
Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics
92.86 $$$$$ 8% 3 10:1 71%

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20
The Workforce Institute's City College
92.41 $$$$$ N/A 1 20:1 75%

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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
Drexel University
99.84 $$$$$ 93% 10 10:1 65%

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2
Pennsylvania College of Technology
99.44 $$$$$ 9% 35 18:1 40%

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3
Point Park University
99.24 $$$$$ 95% 6 13:1 50%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
4
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus
98.97 $$$$$ 15% 4 19:1 50%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
5
Temple University
98.48 $$$$$ 76% 4 14:1 66%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
6
Misericordia University
98.46 $$$$$ 99% 4 13:1 68%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
7
California University of Pennsylvania
98.39 $$$$$ 55% 4 22:1 54%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
8
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
98.23 $$$$$ 11% 3 19:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
9
Cedar Crest College
98.14 $$$$$ 100% 2 10:1 61%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
10
Keystone College
97.81 $$$$$ 100% 1 11:1 45%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
11
La Roche College
97.73 $$$$$ 75% 2 12:1 47%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
12
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
97.52 $$$$$ 37% 4 17:1 86%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes Yes Read More
13
Mount Aloysius College
97.06 $$$$$ 99% 8 12:1 33%

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14
Gannon University
96.83 $$$$$ 93% 6 13:1 65%

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15
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Hazleton
96.75 $$$$$ 72% 4 14:1 49%

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16
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown
96.55 $$$$$ 53% 4 20:1 55%

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17
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
96.42 $$$$$ 38% 5 14:1 79%

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18
Saint Francis University
96.34 $$$$$ 98% 4 14:1 65%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
19
Widener University-Main Campus
96.23 $$$$$ 94% 4 12:1 55%

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20
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Shenango
95.98 $$$$$ 71% 1 11:1 30%

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21
Delaware Valley University
95.90 $$$$$ 100% 3 14:1 58%

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22
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State York
95.64 $$$$$ 55% 2 14:1 43%

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23
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Altoona
95.61 $$$$$ 56% 2 17:1 67%

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24
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Schuylkill
95.34 $$$$$ 71% 1 14:1 37%

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25
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
95.17 $$$$$ 30% 1 18:1 48%

Additional Benefits: Yes Yes No Read More
26
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Worthington Scranton
95.11 $$$$$ 40% 1 16:1 48%

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Search Vocational & Trade Schools in Pennsylvania

With 686 public high schools and 31 community colleges that offer vocational training, Pennsylvania presents a lot of opportunities to prospective students. However, not every school is a good fit for every student who wants vocational training. It’s imperative for students to compare schools and find the one that will best suit their needs. By using the search tool below, those who want a vocational education can find the right school.

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Quick Facts: Pennsylvania Trade Schools

In the 2012-2013 school year, 99 percent of high school students in career and technical education (CTE) programs graduated.

82 percent of students in CTE programs on the post-secondary level earned a degree, credential, or certificate.

On the post-secondary level, there are more female students enrolled in vocational programs than male students. In the 2013-2014 school year, there were 44,385 and 32,057 women and men respectively.

The top three CTE programs in Pennsylvania by enrollment are health science (24,694 students), business, management, and administration (10,850 students), and architecture and construction (8,823 students).

By the Numbers: Vocational Credentials in Pennsylvania

Students in Pennsylvania can earn vocational education at comprehensive high schools and regional technology centers on the secondary level, and community colleges on the post-secondary level. When they complete these programs, they often leave school armed with a credential that is recognized by their industry, which gives graduates an advantage when looking for employment. The following table includes information about how many certificates and degrees are awarded through throughout Pennsylvania and compares those rates to the national averages.

Distribution of Undergraduate Certificates & Degrees

Credential Pennsylvania National
< 1-year certificate 8.1% 14.7%
1-year certificate 13.3% 12.6%
Associate’s Degree 18.8% 24.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 59.7% 48.0%

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

Biggest Vocational Career Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Many students who study health science at Pennsylvania’s vocational schools often enter some of the state’s fastest growing professions. For example, graduates with associate degrees can work as registered nurses, dental hygienists, and clinical laboratory technicians, while students who earn credentials that take less than two years to complete may become licensed practical nurses or nursing assistants. This education prepares students to work in the state’s many hospitals—such as Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant, and Hamot Medical Center in Erie—as well as doctor’s offices, hospice facilities, and nursing homes.

More information about the fastest growing vocational professions in Pennsylvania can be found in the table below.

Careers with the Most Job Openings in Pennsylvania

Occupation 2012 Employment Projected Annual Job Openings Percent Growth
(2012-2022)
Median Annual Wage (Pennsylvania, 2014) Median Annual Wage (National, 2014)
Postsecondary, Non-Degree (Some College)
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers 21,630 25,050 16% $38,600 $39,500
Nursing Assistants 73,840 81,390 10% $27,600 $25,100
Licensed Practical Nurses 36,100 43,440 20% $43,100 $42,500
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 37,750 42,010 11% $23,900 $23,100
Teacher Assistants 44,000 45,360 3% $23,000 $24,400
Two-Year Associate’s Degree
Registered Nurses 126,870 150,260 18% $65,100 $66,600
Preschool Teachers 13,920 15,870 14% $24,800 $28,100/td>
Dental Hygienists 8,470 9,800 16% $60,800 $71,500
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 9,070 10,740 18% $52,300 $48,300
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 8,990 9,660 8% $38,000 $38,400

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

Trade Schools & Careers in Philadelphia: In-Depth

From Empire Beauty School-Center City Philadelphia to Jean Madeline Aveda Institute to Orleans Technical Institute, Philadelphia has a lot to offer in terms of vocational school choices. Students who attend these schools can train to work at some of the city’s leading employers, such as those in the healthcare field. Philadelphia is the home of employers like the Crozer-Keystone Health System, Genesis Healthcare Corp., Jefferson Health System Inc., as well as medical schools like Thomas Jefferson University. In order to become qualified for employment at these types of organizations, students may enroll in programs at Star Career Academy-Philadelphia and the Community College of Philadelphia. These schools have several health related CTE programs, such as clinical assisting, respiratory care therapy, addiction counseling, and surgical technology.

Likewise, those who are interested in joining Pittsburgh’s manufacturing industry, which has a long tradition of innovation, can attend the Community College of Allegheny County. This school has programs in areas such as welding technology, metal fabrication, and ironworking, which train graduates to work in the city’s 2,800 advanced manufacturing companies.

Further Reading for Students and Job Seekers

Comprehensive job search database for Pennsylvania residents. Search by location, company, job title, or category.

This site provides information about the popular industries in Pennsylvania, including the employers in each sector.

PACTA promotes quality CTE in the state by providing support to vocational educators.

Includes information on the vocational programs that students can enroll in, careers that graduates can pursue, and the instructional methodologies used by those who provide CTE in the state.

This site has information on the main industries in Pittsburg.