Vocational Trade Schools in Alaska [2022 Guide]

Updated November 15, 2022

Attending a trade school in Alaska can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the best trade schools in Alaska.

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Why Choose Trade School?

Vocational and trade schools provide career training for students interested in health, trade and industry, technical, and legal services careers. Potential roles for graduates include mechanic, cosmetologist, paralegal, medical assistant, and dental hygienist. Many of these career paths require some postsecondary education but not a bachelor's degree. By choosing an accredited trade school in Alaska, students can save money while advancing their career. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, professionals who earn an occupational credential benefit from higher employment rates than those with an academic credential.

Earning certification or a degree from a trade school generally takes 1-2 years, depending on the program. Students can enroll in self-paced or accelerated options to earn a degree in less time. A growing number of schools offer online enrollment for students seeking greater flexibility.

Students interested in vocational and trade programs can enroll in many different types of institutions. Community colleges, four-year institutions, and private trade schools all offer vocational certificates and degrees in Alaska. For example, the University of Alaska offers multiple career and technical education programs.

This page introduces vocational schools in Alaska and provides important information for prospective students, such as scholarship opportunities and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

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What is trade school?A trade school provides students with career-ready training in fields like construction, culinary arts, legal services, and healthcare.
Can I get financial aid for trade school?Students attending accredited trade schools in Alaska can pursue federal financial aid and other forms of financial support, including private loans, scholarships, and grants.
Can I go to trade school online?Yes. A growing number of trade schools offer online programs. In an online vocational program, students complete coursework through a distance learning format while meeting experiential requirements at an approved local site.
What is the difference between trade school and vocational school?Vocational and trade schools are essentially the same, preparing graduates for hands-on careers like electrician, medical assistant, and mechanic.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Students considering vocational schools in Alaska should always check a school's accreditation status before applying. Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students and granting certificates and degrees. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require accredited credentials.

Many different types of schools offer trade and vocational programs. Depending on the institution, schools may hold regional or national accreditation. Liberal arts and research institutions like the University of Alaska generally hold regional accreditation. Community colleges also typically hold regional accreditation. In Alaska, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities grants regional accreditation to two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Vocational, trade, and technical schools in Alaska often hold national accreditation from a specialized agency like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Recognized by the Department of Education as an institutional accrediting agency, ACCSC grants accreditation to over 650 trade and technical schools.

Other specialized accrediting agencies include the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which grants accreditation to online schools, including those that offer vocational programs.

In addition to accreditation, trade schools must also hold a license to educate students. State agencies grant licenses to private vocational schools. The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education authorizes trade schools in the state.

A school's accreditation status can shape a graduate's career. Learn more about the importance of higher education accreditation.

Vocational Trade Schools in Alaska

Our list ranks the top vocational trade schools in Alaska. These schools offer programs in high-demand areas like allied health and construction.

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks

    Fairbanks, AK

    One of the state's major public colleges, UAF also ranks among the top trade schools in Alaska. The college offers several associate degree and certificate programs along with several apprenticeship opportunities. Students choose from dozens of trade programs, including accounting, aviation maintenance, and rural human services.

    UAF offers many vocational programs that reflect Alaska's unique job market, such as the certificate in high latitude range management, which focuses on animal husbandry and native plant monitoring. The school offers several programs reflecting Alaska's indigenous history, such as native language education, tribal management, and Yup'ik language proficiency.

    UAF also offers an associate of applied science apprenticeship program, which enables students with apprenticeship experience to earn up to 38 credits toward an associate degree in their field.

  • University of Alaska Anchorage

    Anchorage, AK

    UAA offers an assortment of degree and certificate programs in several professional fields, including air traffic control, computer and networking technology, and construction management.

    UAA also offers robust apprenticeships, available in professions including automotive services, occupational health and safety, and process technologies. The apprenticeship program offers an alternative to traditional education, enabling students to work full-time while receiving supplementary technical instruction. Apprentices receive professional certification and earn up to 52 credits toward an associate degree.

    Apprentices typically work 2,000 hours per year and attend two classes per semester. UAA guarantees apprentices a 10% raise each year they complete coursework and employment obligations successfully. Apprentice students also receive access to federal funding unavailable to traditional students, which applies toward tuition, books, and even non-academic expenses like transportation and childcare.

  • University of Alaska Southeast

    Juneau, AK

    Based in Juneau, UAS also maintains campuses in Ketchikan and Sitka. As with many vocational schools in Alaska, UAS offers degrees that reflect the state's unique professional environment: students choose from associate degrees and certificates in fields such as fishery, mining, and marine transportation. 

    UAS also offers an apprenticeship in conjunction with the Local 302 International Union of Operating Engineers. The program typically takes 3-6 years to complete and prepares students for careers as heavy-duty equipment mechanics or heavy-duty service oilers. The academic curriculum includes topics such as diesel engines, basic electrical systems, and basic welding.

    Applicants to the apprenticeship program must be at least 18 years old and possess either a high school or GED diploma along with a valid Alaska CDL driver's license. Mechanics complete 6,000 apprentice work hours, while oilers complete 4,000 work hours.

  • Ilisagvik College

    Barrow, AK

    Based in Utqiagvik, Ilisagvik remains the only tribally run community college in the state. The school offers a variety of technical and professionally focused programs in areas including allied health, emergency services, and office management.

    Education options include traditional classroom and online courses, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. Apprenticeships meet industry and regulatory standards in fields such as construction technologies, heavy equipment, and industrial safety.

    Unique among trade schools in Alaska, Ilisagvik offers a program in Iñupiaq studies, with both an associate degree and certifications available in Iñupiaq language, culture, and arts. The programs explore Iñupiaq art in various mediums, language, and the relationship between Iñupiaq culture and the Alaskan landscape, including land, animals, and sea.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Trade school graduates can work in roles such as electrician, dental hygienist, medical assistant, and aerospace engineering technician. Vocational and trade schools also prepare graduates for careers in healthcare, legal services, and trade services.

Salaries for trade school graduates vary greatly by industry, location, and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), trade school graduates earn over $55,000 per year on average. However, professionals in management occupations make over $96,000 per year, while installation, maintenance, and repair workers earn around $50,000 per year, on average.

Many trade jobs offer strong growth potential. For example, the BLS projects faster-than-average job growth for HVAC technicians, dental hygienists, and chefs between 2018 and 2028.

Students considering trade schools in Alaska can research Alaska salaries by occupation to learn more about the salary outlook in their specific industry. For example, Alaska's installation, maintenance, and repair careers offer an average salary of over $61,000 per year, higher than the national average.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Vocational schools in Alaska offer programs in many in-demand industries, including healthcare, legal services, and hospitality. This section covers popular trade school programs in Alaska to help students find the best fit for their interests and goals.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Technician Programs

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians, also known as HVAC technicians, install and maintain heating and cooling systems in buildings. They inspect and test HVAC systems, repair malfunctioning parts, and clean systems. Many HVAC technicians attend trade or vocational schools to earn a certificate or associate degree. They build professional experience through internships and apprenticeships.

The BLS reports that HVAC technicians earned a median annual income of nearly $49,000 in 2019, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028. In Alaska, HVAC technicians earned an annual mean wage of more than $68,000 in 2019. Alaska HVAC contractors and supervisors need licensure from the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

For more information, visit our page on HVAC training programs.

Paralegal Programs

Paralegals assist attorneys by conducting research, arranging legal documents for case preparation, and writing reports for trial lawyers. They may specialize in different legal fields, like corporate law, litigation, or employment law. Paralegals typically need an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies, which they can earn through several vocational schools in Alaska. During a paralegal program, learners study the law, legal research, and legal writing.

Paralegals and legal assistants earned an annual median salary of more than $51,740 in 2019. In Alaska, paralegals made a mean annual salary of more than $56,000 in 2019. The BLS projects the field to experience much faster-than-average job growth between 2018 and 2028.

Learn more by reviewing our page on paralegal programs.

Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Medical billing and coding technicians create and manage patient health records. They also code and categorize health information for insurance reimbursement. Most entry-level positions require a certificate in medical billing and coding, but some require an associate degree.

The BLS reports that medical records and health information technicians across the country earned a median annual income of over $40,000 in 2018. In Alaska, medical billing and coding technicians earned an annual mean wage of $58,000.

For more information, visit our page on medical billing and coding programs.

Culinary School

Culinary school trains students for positions like chef, head cook, and food service manager. During culinary school, learners study topics like menu design, world cuisines, and hospitality administration. Many programs offer concentrations in areas like baking and pastry arts, hospitality management, and food and beverage management.

An associate degree in culinary arts generally takes two years to complete, while certificate programs often take one year. According to the BLS, chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of over $51,000 in 2019, while food service managers earned over $55,000. Both fields offer much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

For more information, browse our page on culinary schools.

Dental Hygienist Programs

Dental hygienists work in dental offices, cleaning teeth and examining patients for oral diseases. Entry-level positions typically require an associate degree. The BLS reports that dental hygienists earned an annual median salary of over $76,000 in 2019, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028. Dental hygienists in Alaska earned nearly $115,000 in 2019, ranking the state as the highest-paying location for dental hygienists.

During a dental hygienist program, students take classes on topics like anatomy and periodontics in addition to completing laboratory and clinical requirements. In Alaska, dental hygienists must hold a license from the Alaska Board of Dental Examiners. Licensure candidates must complete an accredited dental hygiene program and pass two exams.

Learn more by visiting our page on dental hygienist programs.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Vocational and trade schools typically charge lower tuition rates than four-year academic programs. In Alaska, for example, public four-year colleges charge around $7,000 in tuition per year, on average, while private four-year colleges charge over $19,000 per year. However, two-year colleges charge under $4,000 per year, on average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Students attending accredited vocational and trade schools in Alaska can pursue many forms of financial aid to help offset the cost of their education, including federal loans, state grants, and scholarships. To receive federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year. However, only certain trade schools meet the requirements for federal aid. Students should check with prospective schools to learn about financial aid eligibility.

Alaska also supports vocational and trade school students through the Alaska Education Grant, which provides up to $4,000 per year for students attending school in Alaska. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not require repayment.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Students attending trade or vocational schools in Alaska can pursue many scholarship and grant opportunities. The following scholarships and grants award money to students attending accredited vocational, trade, two-year, and four-year schools in Alaska.

Alaska Education Grant

Who Can Apply: Alaska residents earning an undergraduate degree or vocational certificate at a qualifying Alaska institution, including vocational schools in Alaska, qualify for this grant. Applicants must complete the FAFSA to qualify.
Amount: $500-$4,000

Apply for Scholarship

Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific Students of Integrity Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students at vocational schools in Alaska with a minimum 3.0 GPA qualify for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a video or essay.
Amount: $2,000-$5,000

Apply for Scholarship

University of Alaska Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The University of Alaska offers multiple scholarships for students, including those enrolled in vocational or trade schools in Alaska. Applicants must submit an online application, which then matches them with available scholarships.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

AIEF Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The American Indian Education Fund offers scholarships for Native American and Alaska Native students. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited technical school, college, or university with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Amount: Up to $2,000 per year

Apply for Scholarship

Pride Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Pride Foundation offers over 60 scholarships to Northwest residents, including Alaska residents. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution, including vocational and trade schools in Alaska.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

Alaska Career Information System

Free education and career planning resource for Alaska residents. Create resumes and portfolios, learn about different occupations and creating learning and career plans.

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development - Career and Technical Education

The hub for Alaska's CTE information. Provides a variety of resources specific to CTE within the Alaska school system, like career clusters, school information, state plans and important dates.

Alaska School District CTE Websites

Links to the CTE school districts throughout the state.

Alaska WOrkforce Investment Board

The body in charge of making and reviewing plans for training Alaska's workforce. Informs readers of plans, policies and initiatives as well as job and training search resources.

Alaska Works Partnership, Inc.

A program that supplies information and training to Alaskans seeking construction education. Includes programs for military members and women in trades, job outreach programs and pipeline construction programs.

National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium - Alaska

Provides an overview of career and technical education in Alaska, including enrollment information, education goals and available programs of study.

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