Most technical colleges in Alabama deliver programs that incorporate hands-on training. Instructors often work closely with local employers to provide internship or cooperative education opportunities. Even online vocational programs typically include the application of practical skills.
Alabama vocational schools offer training in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, and business. Common vocational programs include dental hygiene, pharmacy technician, hospitality management, heating and cooling, and automotive repair. Most technical schools admit both recent high school graduates and working professionals who intend to change careers.
|Can I go to trade school online?||Yes, many trade and vocational programs offer online learning opportunities. These programs require excellent time-management skills and self-sufficiency. However, online programs offer greater flexibility than on-campus options, which can be ideal for working professionals.|
|Can I get financial aid for trade school?||Federal and state financial aid is available to students attending accredited vocational schools in Alabama. However, learners at programs that do not meet minimum length requirements may not be eligible for aid.|
|Are scholarships available for vocational students?||Yes, many schools, civic organizations, and charitable organizations offer scholarships for students pursuing a trade or vocational education. This guide includes several examples.|
|Can trade school credits transfer?||Learners can often transfer credits from trade or vocational schools toward a two-year or four-year degree. Some vocational schools maintain articulation agreements with community colleges and universities.|
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Accrediting agencies provide an impartial quality check of a school's academic and career preparation programs. Vocational schools in Alabama can receive accreditation from the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools Council on Occupational Education. Institutions can also seek accreditation from a national accrediting agency that focuses on trade and career preparation, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
Additionally, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission awards accreditation to schools that provide distance education programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Department of Education maintain online databases of recognized accrediting agencies. Learners can also use this list of the best online institutions of 2020 to select a school that fits their needs.
The accreditation process includes a thorough review of the school's curriculum standards, faculty credentials, and student success. Agencies often consider the job placements of graduates and whether the institution's programs prepare learners to succeed in their chosen profession. Many vocational schools also work with national certification agencies to align their curricula to industry certification requirements.
In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for programmatic accreditation. Individual programs may receive accreditation from field-specific agencies, such as the American Council for Construction Education, the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. These organizations ensure each program's curriculum meets industry standards for training and education.
Although accreditation is a voluntary process, all schools must obtain a state license to serve students. The Private School Licensure Division of the Alabama Community College System authorizes schools to educate Alabama students through on-campus and distance programs. The licensing process involves a review of the school's academic requirements to ensure its educational programs meet set standards.
Programs that lead to state licensure should also hold authorization from the appropriate state agency. For example, practical nursing programs in the state should hold recognition from the Alabama Board of Nursing.
Vocational Trade Schools in Alabama
The rankings below offer a snapshot of the best vocational schools in Alabama. However, students should consider their individual needs when selecting a school. Learners should choose an institution and program that aligns with their educational and career goals. Other important factors include cost and degree-completion time.
|Rank||Logo||School||Tuition||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||Financial Aid||Credit For Experience||Placement Service||Counseling Services||Description & Additional Information||Toggle|
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|1||Gadsden State Community College Gadsden, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 28||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 14%||Financial Aid 25%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
At Gadsden State, students can choose among a career-focused range of two-year technical/vocational programs in the engineering disciplines. Vocational studies programs include specializations in automotive manufacturing, HVAC, drafting and design, machine tool technology, electrical and electronic engineering. Specialized curriculum also features studies in carpentry, auto collision repair and welding technology. Part of the Alabama Community College System, Gadsden State also serves undergraduates with technical certificates (3-4 semesters), and 26-hour, short-term technical certificates. Students interested in completing an associate of applied science in a technical field must complete seven academic courses in five semesters.
|2||Trenholm State Community College Montgomery, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 25||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 33%||Financial Aid 30%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
The Allied Health and Technologies Division at Trenholm State Community College is one of the school’s more popular career programs. Its students choose among career-oriented studies in dental assisting technology, ultrasound, medical assisting, radiologic technology, therapeutic massage and practical nursing. Trenholm State’s automotive programs feature courses in collision repair, truck driver training, and diesel technology. Vocational students in engineering technologies can pursue competencies in HVAC, machine tool technology, drafting and design, and welding. Business students can choose among career courses in accounting, bookkeeping and payroll management. Trenholm State also operates a GED completion program for adult students.
|3||Bevill State Community College Jasper, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 28||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 14%||Financial Aid 38%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
As a member of the Alabama state system of community, junior, and technical colleges, Bevill State is dedicated to workplace training and retraining through its basic skills and occupational development curriculum. Programs offered through The Career Technical Education Division let students choose among short and long-term certificates, Applied Science (AAS) degrees, and certificates of completion. Vocational programs include cosmetology, AC and refrigeration, computer science, drafting design, machine tool technology, business office management, welding, mining technology, truck driver training and vehicle repair. Students do not need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in the vocational programs.
|4||Lawson State Community College Birmingham, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 24||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 18%||Financial Aid 32%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
At Birmingham’s Lawson State Community College, vocational students can take online, on-campus and hybrid career classes in technical and health profession training programs. To serve the growing trade professions in the automotive sector, LSCC directs The Alabama Center for Automotive Excellence. The center is host to vocational preparation courses in auto body repair, automotive technology, and repair specializations in Ford, General Motors, and Toyota cars and trucks. Lawson State’s construction technology programs specialize in air conditioning and refrigeration, plumbing, and building construction. The plumbing apprentice/coursework program prepares students for State of Alabama journey licensing.
|5||J F Drake State Community and Technical College Huntsville, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 20||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 15%||Financial Aid 22%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
J.F. Drake State’s technical, vocational and industrial career-training programs culminate in a certificate or, for those seeking a degree option, an associate of applied science. Through its five career divisions, Drake State vocational academics prepare students in business and Information technology, culinary arts/hospitality services management, engineering technology, health sciences, and manufacturing/applied technology. Health sciences is one of the school’s largest divisions and its newest program in medical assisting prepares students to take jobs in medical clinics or private physician’s offices. Within the engineering technology division, classes prepare students in architectural or mechanical drawing and design, robotics operations, computer hardware and industrial systems.
|6||Wallace Community College-Dothan Dothan, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 27||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 19%||Financial Aid 11%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|7||Wallace Community College-Hanceville Hanceville, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 26||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 20%||Financial Aid 21%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|8||Southern Union State Community College Wadley, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 25||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 14%||Financial Aid 32%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|9||Lurleen B Wallace Community College Andalusia, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 15||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 21%||Financial Aid 35%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|10||Wallace Community College-Selma Selma, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 12||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 25%||Financial Aid 19%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|11||Enterprise State Community College Enterprise, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 8||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 13%||Financial Aid 43%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|12||Jefferson State Community College Birmingham, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 12||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 7%||Financial Aid 15%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|13||Snead State Community College Boaz, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 5||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 32%||Financial Aid 65%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|14||Jefferson Davis Community College Brewton, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 13||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 30%||Financial Aid 30%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|15||Shelton State Community College Tuscaloosa, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 23||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 8%||Financial Aid 19%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|16||Bishop State Community College Mobile, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 18||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 11%||Financial Aid 21%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|17||Faulkner State Community College Fairhope, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 18||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 10%||Financial Aid 26%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|18||Northeast Alabama Community College Rainsville, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 18||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 24%||Financial Aid 30%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|19||Reid State Technical College Evergreen, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 9||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 34%||Financial Aid 59%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|20||J F Ingram State Technical College Deatsville, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 16||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 31%||Financial Aid -||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|21||Alabama Southern Community College Monroeville, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 3||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 23%||Financial Aid 41%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|22||Remington College-Mobile Campus Mobile, AL||Tuition||# of Online Programs 7||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 59%||Financial Aid 79%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Alabama
Students in Alabama can begin working toward their trade school credentials during high school, or they can wait until college. While some Alabama high schools provide only vocational training, many traditional high schools also grant career and technical education credits. College-level vocational and trade education is available through Alabama's community college system, which includes four technical colleges. Alabama also offers career training through workforce development programs.
The search tool below can help prospective students find a vocational and trade school in Alabama that meets their needs.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Many trade schools in Alabama offer programs that lead to positions in high-growth career fields. Graduates often earn above-average salaries and enjoy high levels of job security. The state's economic and industrial recruitment efforts impact the availability of certain trade programs.
For example, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama ranks among the top states for aerospace and aviation engineers. Projections Central projects employment for aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians to increase 37.9% and 35.7%, respectively, in Alabama from 2016 to 2026.
Salary potential for graduates of technical schools in Alabama depends on the individual's industry, training, and experience. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), avionics technicians earn a median annual salary of $59,120 nationally and $54,410 in Alabama.
Prospective students can explore employment projections from the BLS to understand their career options. Recent data from the BLS projects healthcare positions to comprise a large portion of jobs created from 2018 to 2028. Users on the BLS website can also research each occupation's median salary and top-paying industries.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Many vocational schools in Alabama work in tandem with workforce development programs to help industry partners develop their workforce. Ambulatory healthcare services is one of the state's top industries, according to the BLS, and trade school programming in the state includes several medical training opportunities. Alabama is also home to large automotive manufacturing facilities and aerospace and aviation companies. See below for several popular vocational programs at technical colleges in Alabama.
Paramedics provide advanced medical care outside of hospital settings. Paramedics often provide the first level of intervention after a medical emergency or traumatic injury. Paramedics assess each patient's condition, provide first aid or life support, and transport the patient in an ambulance to a medical facility.
Projections Central projects a 13.7% increase in employment opportunities for paramedics in Alabama from 2016 to 2026. According to BLS data, about 3,780 paramedics and EMTs currently work in the state. Paramedic positions require1-2 years of training, and students must already have a valid advanced EMT license.
To qualify for work as paramedics, graduates must obtain a paramedic license from the Alabama Department of Public Health and pass the paramedic exam from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. To ensure they are eligible to pursue licensure, students should select an accredited paramedic training program.
- Dental Hygiene
Dental hygienists work primarily in the dentists' offices, providing patient care during routine dental exams. Hygienists often conduct cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, take X-rays, and assess oral health. They discuss treatment plans and help educate patients about proper brushing and flossing.
Many dental hygienist preparation programs require two years of education and lead to an associate degree. These programs combine classroom instruction with clinical and laboratory training. The BLS reports that 3,790 dental hygienists work in Alabama and projects the occupation to increase 17.9% from 2016 to 2026. Alabama requires hygienists to hold a state license from the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama. This guide provides information about dental hygienist schools and curricula.
- Paralegal Studies
Paralegals and legal assistants work with licensed attorneys to manage law offices, organize legal paperwork, and research laws and opinions. Projections Central projects employment for paralegals to increase 13.7% from 2016 to 2026. Alabama paralegals earn an average annual salary of $47,380.
Some paralegals complete only on-the-job training, while others earn a four-year degree in legal studies. Many paralegals complete certificate programs to quickly enter the workforce. Certificate programs in the field help learners develop skills including conducting online legal research and writing court documents. Some paralegal programs take only a few months to complete, while others require a year or longer.
Alabama maintains no licensing requirements for paralegals. However, industry certifications demonstrate knowledge and expertise to prospective employers. This resource provides additional information about paralegal training.
- Medical Assistant Programs
Projections Central projects employment of medical assistants in Alabama to increase 24.7% from 2016 to 2026. This growth is likely due in part to the anticipated increase in patient volume. Medical assistants work primarily in physicians' offices, where they record vital signs and take patient histories. These professionals may also handle administrative tasks, such as completing insurance forms with medical codes and managing electronic health records.
Some medical assistants specialize in optometry or podiatry. Training for this position typically takes 1-2 years and may culminate in a certificate or diploma. Medical assistants can pursue industry certifications, such as certified medical assistant or certified clinical medical assistant credential.
- Construction Management
Construction managers oversee building projects, from the planning stage through completion. These professionals schedule workers, order supplies, and manage budgets. Projections Central projects a 7.5% employment growth for construction management occupations in Alabama. Construction managers in the state earn an average annual salary of $98,550, according to the BLS.
Several technical schools in Alabama offer building construction programs. These two-year programs lead to an associate degree and help learners develop the skills necessary to enter the construction field or advance their career. Courses typically include reading blueprints, workplace safety, contracting and construction law, and construction estimating.
Construction managers can demonstrate their expertise through industry certifications from the Construction Management Association of America and the American Institute of Contractors. Alabama requires construction managers to hold a general contractor license from the State Licensing Board for General Contractors. This page includes information about the best construction management programs.
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Trade schools in Alabama offer high-quality educational programs that typically cost less than four-year degrees. According to NCES data, the average cost of tuition and fees at four-year public universities in Alabama was $9,827 for the 2017-18 academic year, while tuition and fees at two-year schools in the state averaged $3,243 for the same time period.
The Alabama Community College System includes 24 schools, with campus locations throughout the state. Learners at two-year institutions in Alabama can pursue certificates or associate degrees, and they often save on costs related to housing and transportation. Additionally, some schools offer distance education options, which can further reduce costs.
Federal and state financial aid programs can help defray the cost of career training and education. Learners should complete the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal funding. Trade school students can qualify for need-based aid, such as the Pell Grant, which offers up to $6,345 for the 2020-21 academic year.
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education administers several state financial aid programs, such as the Alabama Student Assistance Program, which delivers $300-$5,000 per academic year to eligible students. Unlike loans, these awards do not require repayment.
Learners can also apply for scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition, books, and equipment. Students can also consider federal student loans, some of which offer deferred interest charges.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
In addition to grants, learners can apply for scholarships to help fund their education. The scholarships below are available to students attending trade schools in Alabama. Learners can contact their school's financial aid office for information about institutional scholarships. Students can also pursue scholarship opportunities from civic organizations, employers, and philanthropic organizations.
- Alabama Home Builders Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This award supports Alabama residents pursuing a construction-related program at an accredited junior college, university, or technical school in Alabama. The scholarship committee considers financial need, and past recipients may reapply.Apply for Scholarship
- Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in career entry-level, degree-granting programs in any health discipline can apply for this award. Learners must be attending a participating school in Alabama. Applicants must submit a resume and one-page essay on their career goals.Apply for Scholarship
- Baptist Health Care Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Baptist Health employees and their families can apply for the family scholarship program. The award supports students seeking postsecondary education in an allied health field. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Baptist Health maintains facilities throughout Central Alabama.Apply for Scholarship
- E.L. Gibson Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Administered by Enterprise State Community College, this fund supports students seeking a degree in an allied health field, such as respiratory therapy, nursing, or radiology. Applicants must live in Coffee County or the surrounding region.Apply for Scholarship
- Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Scholarships
Who Can Apply: These awards support Alabama high school seniors from Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties. Applicants must plan to continue their education in a vocational or college program. The company awards 10 scholarships each year, with five reserved for the dependents of Mercedes-Benz team members.Apply for Scholarship
Additional Education and Career Resources
An association that supports and advocates for the advance of career and technical education in Alabama. Provides resources and information about CTE benefits, practices and legislation.
Alabama's hub for vocational and trade school information, especially at the secondary level. A resource for current and prospective students wanting to learn more about CTE offerings in Alabama.
Provides information about CTE at the postsecondary level through Alabama's community college system.
Provides information about employment laws and trends and a resource for job seekers in Alabama.
Online job search tool for Alabama residents. Includes resources for education and training to get employed.