Vocational Trade Schools in Arizona

December 1, 2021 • 6 Min Read

Why Choose Trade School?

Vocational and trade schools train students for a variety of careers in areas like healthcare, legal studies, cosmetology, and technology. Trade schools offer several benefits, including affordability. Many trade schools charge lower tuition rates than four-year institutions, which can save students money. Additionally, people who earn an occupational credential benefit from higher employment rates than those with an academic credential, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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Many schools in Arizona offer vocational and trade programs. Most vocational programs incorporate a mix of coursework and hands-on learning through internships, apprenticeships, or practicums.

Completing a certificate or associate degree in a vocational program generally takes 1-2 years. Some schools offer self-paced or accelerated options for students seeking a faster option. Students looking for more flexibility can also research online vocational programs.

This page introduces trade and vocational schools in Arizona and ranks the top programs in the state. It also provides information on scholarship opportunities for students and the career and salary outlook for trade school graduates.

Arizona Trade School Questions

Can I go to trade school online?Yes. Many trade schools in Arizona offer online programs. Online students can often meet a program's in-person requirements at an approved site in their community.
Can I get financial aid for trade school?Yes. Accredited trade and technical colleges in Arizona meet the requirements for many financial aid programs, including federal aid.
Can trade school credits transfer?Yes. Students can often transfer the credits they earn from accredited trade and vocational schools in Arizona to other institutions.
When can I apply to trade school?Many trade schools offer rolling admissions policies, which let prospective students submit an application at any time. Similarly, trade schools often offer multiple start dates each year.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Prospective trade school students should always check a school's accreditation status before applying. Schools must undergo a rigorous review process from an independent accrediting agency to earn accreditation. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the school's student learning outcomes, academic mission, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements. To maintain accreditation, schools regularly repeat the review process.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students attending an accredited school qualify for federal financial aid programs, and many schools only accept credits and degrees from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.

At the institutional level, both regional and national accrediting agencies grant accreditation to schools. Liberal arts and research institutions and community colleges typically hold regional accreditation. In Arizona, the Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to four-year and two-year schools.

Vocational and trade schools may hold national accreditation from an agency such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). ACCSC accredits more than 650 trade and technical schools in the country. Online schools may also hold accreditation from a specialized agency like the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Trade schools also need a license to operate in the state. The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education licenses private vocational and trade schools in Arizona. Learn more about the accreditation process.

Vocational Trade Schools in Arizona

Trade schools in Phoenix, Tucson, and other parts of Arizona prepare graduates for in-demand careers. Our list ranks the best trade schools in Arizona to help prospective students find the right program for their interests and goals.

Pima Community College true View School Profile Tucson, AZ

A public two-year school established in 1966, POC offers more than 150 programs that prepare students for Arizona's in-demand careers. Among the top-ranked trade schools in Arizona, the school offers associate degrees and certificates in areas like construction, manufacturing, information systems, and hospitality.

Requirements vary by program, but students can complete most of the certificate and associate programs in 1-2 years. The medical billing and coding certificate, for example, requires about 30 credits and takes one year to complete, while the associate degree in health information technology comprises 64 credits and takes two years to complete.

Students can expedite graduation and save money through prior learning credits. The school offers credit for eligible work experience, volunteer service, and military training.

GateWay Community College true View School Profile Phoenix, AZ

Founded in 1968, GateWay Community College offers more than 160 degree, certificate, and workforce training programs.

The school hosts students through six locations and online. Online learners can take live courses with specific meeting times or fully asynchronous classes using the learning platform, Canvas. Students can pursue degrees and certificates in areas like business, beauty and wellness, healthcare, HVAC, and nursing. GateWay also offers apprenticeships in 15 trades.

The school's career center provides tailored career planning, including interview preparation tips and job search help. Prospective students must complete an online application and placement tests.

Central Arizona College true View School Profile Coolidge, AZ

Established in 1969, CAC primarily serves Pinal County's Hispanic and Native American communities. The college hosts students on five campuses, at three extension centers, and online.

Students can pursue associate degrees and certificates in areas like accounting, hotel and restaurant management, radiologic technology, network technologies, and automated industrial technology.

CAC also partners with local companies to provide apprenticeships in welding, industrial maintenance, and electrical. These companies sometimes pay for students' tuition and other education expenses.

Students gain access to the college's Career and Transfer Center, which offers career assessments and resume and interview preparation. Applicants must submit transcripts and complete a placement exam.

Arizona Western College true View School Profile Yuma, AZ

Among the top-ranked vocational schools in Arizona, AWC offers around 100 degrees and certificates in academic, career, and professional fields. Students can pursue programs in fields such as accounting, computer information systems, and television production.

The school's job training program, funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, helps students secure employment in their field of study. Additionally, the college's workforce educational extension development program provides customized onsite training and online workshops. Learners can also take non-credit workshops that focus on computer skills, public speaking, and CPR training.

Arizona and California students pay in-state tuition rates, and high school students receive discounted tuition rates.

Tohono O'odham Community College true View School Profile Pima County, AZ

One of 36 tribal colleges in the country, TOCC serves the educational needs of the Tohono Oʼodham Nation with programs that celebrate its heritage. All of the school's programs include coursework on Tohono O'odham history, culture, and language. Programs also incorporate the wisdom of elders who serve as instructors and counselors.

The school offers transfer programs and direct-employment certificates and degrees. Students can train for jobs areas like carpentry, electrical systems, masonry, facilities maintenance, and plumbing.

In partnership with local companies, TOCC also offers apprenticeships in carpentry, construction painting, electrical, and plumbing. Applicants 18 years or older with a high school or GED diploma can apply for the apprenticeship program.

Yavapai College View School Profile Prescott, AZ

A public community college founded in 1968, YC ranks among the top trade schools in Arizona and offers diverse transfer programs, career-ready programs, and lifelong learning classes.

The student body comprises high school students beginning their college careers and working adults who want to advance their occupational skills. The college features programs in Arizona's high-demand fields, like hotel and restaurant management, nursing, advanced manufacturing, aviation, and welding. YC also offers internships and career services that introduce students to prospective employers and prepare them for Arizona's workforce.

Prospective students can apply for free. Eligible online learners may also qualify for free tuition by joining the YC Promise program, which covers costs not funded through state and federal financial aid.

Cochise College View School Profile Sierra Vista, AZ

Founded in 1964, Cochise College caters to working students through a variety of associate degrees, certificates, and non-credit courses. Students can pursue many of the school's offerings on campus or online.

Cochise College's associate degrees provide workforce training in automotive technology, professional pilot technology, and culinary arts. Students can also pursue career certificates in medical assisting, residential construction technology, and law enforcement. Cochise College maintains partnerships with local and national companies to offer internships.

The school maintains a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, offering learners personalized attention from faculty. The college's career coaches provide students with customized career advice based on their strengths and interests.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College View School Profile Chandler, AZ

A small public community college established in 1985, CGCC emphasizes learning through experience. The college offers more than 70 degree, certificate, and trade programs. Students can take classes on the school's main campus in Chandler, at one of three regional locations, or online.

CGCC offers certificate and associate programs that train students for in-demand careers in areas like accounting, digital imaging, and information systems. Students can also pursue associate degrees in aircraft maintenance technology, airway science technology, and mortuary science.

Additionally, the college's Environmental Technology Center prepares students for careers in food waste recycling. Learners can also receive hands-on training through study abroad opportunities and community service at local agencies.

Mesa Community College View School Profile Mesa, AZ

Established in 1966, MCC ranks among the top trade schools in Arizona. The public institution offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs that prepare students for the workforce or to transfer to four-year colleges.

Learners can pursue programs in areas like audio production technologies, automotive service, and nursing. MCC offers prior learning credits for relevant experience. For instance, licensed beauty professionals can earn up to 30 credits toward a beauty and wellness associate degree for their experience.

Many programs feature online and on-campus formats. Online courses may feature a mix of asynchronous and synchronous formats. Learners can also pursue hybrid programs that combine in-person and online coursework.

Coconino Community College View School Profile Flagstaff, AZ

Founded in 1991, CCC offers an affordable education to more than 3,500 students annually. Students can choose from career and technical degrees and certificates in more than 30 fields.

Learners can study subjects such as medical office management, paramedic studies, and environmental technology. To keep up with industry demand, in 2020, the school added majors in construction and industry trades, cybersecurity, and HVAC. Apprenticeships, such as CCC's carpentry program, provide trade work experience and classroom learning for students seeking Journeyman status.

The school caters to working students with online programs that allow residents in rural areas, such as Native American learners on tribal lands, to earn an education. CCC accepts all students with a high school diploma or equivalent.

Glendale Community College View School Profile Glendale, AZ

Founded in 1965, GCC offers a variety of associate degree and certificate programs. Learners can choose from fields of study such as applied technology, business, entrepreneurship, and health sciences.

The school prioritizes hands-on learning in its programs. For instance, the associate degree in paramedicine requires students to complete on-the-job clinical work with patients. Apprenticeships in carpentry and automotive services also provide workplace training and placement opportunities.

GCC partners with over 40 four-year institutions, allowing students to seamlessly transfer to a variety of bachelor's programs. Students gain access to career services and academic advising.

Eastern Arizona College View School Profile Thatcher, AZ

Established in 1888, EAC offers more than 130 associate degree and certificate programs. The school's career and technical programs, such as the automotive service consultant certificate program, combine classwork with worksite training to give students hands-on experience in the field.

Many career programs also prepare students for national or state certifications. For instance, the paramedicine program provides EMT and paramedic courses that prepare graduates for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians paramedic exam.

Many programs use Canvas to deliver fully online courses that run asynchronously. Applicants can apply for free, and they only need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Phoenix College View School Profile Phoenix, AZ

Founded in 1920, Phoenix College offers career and technical programs to about 17,000 students every year. Students can choose from more than 150 associate degree and certificate programs in areas such as dental assisting, paralegal studies, and emergency medical technology.

Students can gain hands-on career experience through practicums and internships. For instance, the phlebotomy certificate provides students with on-the-job learning experiences processing specimens in labs.

The length of a student's education depends on the program and their prior learning credits. Learners can receive credit toward their certificate or degree for military service, workplace training, and/or professional certificates and licenses.

Prospective students must complete an online application, submit high school transcripts, and take entrance exams for English and math placement.

Northland Pioneer College View School Profile Holbrook, AZ

A two-year public school established in 1972, NPC hosts more than 6,400 students annually. The college's 29 occupational associate degrees and 67 certificates include areas of study such as automotive technology, cosmetology, welding, and paramedicine.

The school's direct-to-work programs suit students already working in an industry and prospective employees wanting to jumpstart their careers. Students receive hands-on training in their field. Cosmetology students, for instance, study in a salon environment, while automotive learners work in shop settings that emphasize teamwork and tactile learning.

Many programs prepare students for licensing exams. For instance, graduates with a cosmetology certificate can sit for the Arizona Board of Cosmetology examination.

New students can apply online and get their applications processed within two business days.

Mohave Community College View School Profile Kingman, AZ

MCC hosts around 6,000 students annually and offers 80 associate degrees and certificates. The school's programs prepare students for roles such as dental hygienist, paralegal, paramedic, and welder.

Many programs serve learners balancing work and family life. For instance, the automotive collision repair certificate is a self-paced program that students can complete in one year. Among the best trade schools in Arizona, MCC also offers marketing assistance, training programs, and start-up help to local entrepreneurs through its Small Business Development Center.

The school offers scholarships based on academic merit and financial need through the Mohave Community College Foundation.

Estrella Mountain Community College View School Profile Avondale, AZ

The newest two-year institution in the Maricopa Community College system, EMCC opened in 1992 to prepare students to work in in-demand fields. Designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, the school offers a wide selection of associate degrees and certificates.

Learners can study areas like automated industrial technology, culinary arts, and legal studies. Many of the school's associate degrees prepare students to seamlessly transfer to bachelor's programs, such as the associate in nursing program.

The school's associate programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete, while the certificate programs typically take less than a year. Students gain access to academic advising and career services.

Rio Salado College View School Profile Tempe, AZ

Located in Tempe and founded in 1978, Rio Salado College offers more than 130 associate degrees and certificates in subjects such as dental hygiene, basic automotive maintenance, paralegal studies, and construction trades.

Students benefit from the college's corporate and business partnerships, which provide a variety of experiential learning opportunities. May programs also prepare students to seamlessly transfer to bachelor's programs.

Rio Salado's National Division allows out-of-state students to take classes online as part of America's Online Community College. Online courses follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

Paradise Valley Community College View School Profile Phoenix, AZ

Founded in 1985 as a part of the Maricopa Community College system, PVCC serves students throughout the Copper State, hosting a main campus in Phoenix and a secondary location in Scottsdale.

The college's more than 75 associate degrees and certificates include fields like dietetic technology, emergency response and operations, and legal studies. Most programs combine classroom and experiential learning, giving students hands-on experience in the field.

Full-time students can usually complete a certificate in one semester and an associate degree in two years. The school offers many of its programs online, giving busy students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

South Mountain Community College View School Profile Phoenix, AZ

Hosting around 6,000 students annually, SMCC is designated as a Minority Serving Institution, with 75% of the student body identifying as minorities. The school hosts students on a main campus in Guadalupe, at an extension center in Laveen Village, and online.

Students can choose from over 60 associate degrees and certificates in areas such as engineering technology, culinary fundamentals, and legal studies. Many programs feature online courses. For example, students earning a certificate in culinary fundamentals can take an online bakery and pastry class covering presentation methods and preparation techniques.

Learners gain access to academic advising and career services designed to help them meet their career and educational goals.

Scottsdale Community College View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

Among the best trade schools in Arizona, SCC offers more than 100 associate degrees and 60 certificates in areas like culinary arts, drafting, hospitality and tourism, and tribal management. Programs reflect the needs of local employers, which work in partnership with the college to provide job opportunities to graduates.

Students often engage in experiential learning activities. For instance, the 39-credit hospitality restaurant management program gives students industry experience through internships. Other programs, such as the 37-credit yoga therapy certificate, require practicums during which students work directly with clients.

The college accepts any student with a high school diploma or equivalent. Current high school students can apply with their guardian's consent.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Trade school graduates can work in roles such as medical assistant, electrician, ultrasound technician, and paramedic. Vocational and trade schools can also lead to careers in trade services, aerospace, and healthcare.

Salaries vary widely by role, location, and experience, but technical and trade school graduates earn an annual salary of over $55,000 per year, on average. Students considering trade and technical schools in Arizona can research Arizona salaries by occupation to learn more about the earning potential in their field. For example, dental hygienists in Arizona earn over $84,000 per year, on average, while avionics technicians make over $60,000.

Many trade school careers offer strong growth projections. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster-than-average job growth for dental hygienists, EMTs and paramedics, and HVAC technicians. Prospective trade school students should research job demand and average salaries in their specific field. ​

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Trade and vocational schools in Arizona offer certificates and degrees in high-demand fields like healthcare, legal services, and hospitality services. Many of these fields offer strong job growth projections and above-average salaries.

This section introduces trade school programs that prepare graduates for in-demand career paths in Arizona. In addition to the following programs, prospective students can research other popular vocational programs, including programs for dental hygienists, construction managers, radiology technicians, and medical assistants.

Paramedic Schools

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics respond to emergency calls, provide medical care for sick and injured people, and transport patients to hospitals. They may provide first aid, monitor vital signs, or provide life support care, depending on the situation. EMTs and paramedics typically need a certificate or an associate degree.

During their training, paramedic students learn to assess patient conditions, provide trauma care, and use medical equipment. They also receive specialized instruction in hospital or ambulance settings.

EMTs and paramedics earn a median salary of over $35,000 per year, with faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028. Every state requires paramedics to hold a license. In Arizona, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services & Trauma System certifies EMTs and paramedics.

Learn more about paramedic and EMT programs.

Occupational Therapy Schools

Occupational therapists treat patients with injuries and disabilities. While occupational therapists typically need a master's degree, occupational therapy assistants need an associate degree for entry-level roles. Occupational therapy assistants help patients with therapeutic activities, train patients in using special equipment, and report patient progress to occupational therapists.

During an occupational therapist program, students take courses in biology, pediatric health, and occupational therapy. Many programs also incorporate fieldwork to build professional experience.

According to BLS data, occupational therapy assistants earned a median annual salary of $59,200 in 2019. The Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners licenses occupational therapy assistants in Arizona. Candidates for licensure must meet academic requirements, complete supervised fieldwork, and pass an examination.

For more information, check out our page on occupational therapy programs.

Paralegal Programs

Paralegals help lawyers by conducting legal research, investigating cases, and drafting legal documents. They also interview clients, take affidavits, and conduct research on laws and regulations. During a paralegal certificate or degree program, students take classes in legal research, contract law, civil litigation, and legal writing. Most paralegals hold an associate degree in legal studies or paralegal studies, but some hold a certificate in paralegal studies.

According to the BLS, paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of over $51,000 in 2019, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028. While paralegals in Arizona do not need a license to practice, some pursue professional certifications to stand out in the job market.

Learn more about paralegal programs.

Beauty and Cosmetology Schools

Cosmetologists offer facial treatments, makeup analysis, and other beauty services. They may work in roles such as skincare specialist, manicurist, or hairstylist. Salaries for beauty and cosmetology school graduates vary by role, but median annual salaries typically range from $25,000-$35,000. Cosmetologists benefit from faster-than-average job growth projections between 2018 and 2028.

In cosmetology school, students learn to cut and style hair, perform skin treatments, and offer other personal appearance services. Many schools also provide courses in sales, management, and marketing for students interested in opening a salon. The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology licenses cosmetologists in Arizona. Applicants must complete a state-approved program and pass written and practical examinations to earn their license.

For more information, visit our page on beauty and cosmetology programs.

Veterinary Technician Schools

Veterinary technicians assist vets by performing medical exams and providing care for pets. They may administer anesthesia to animals, perform laboratory tests, and administer vaccines or treatments prescribed by a vet. Veterinary technicians also maintain records and case histories. The BLS reports that veterinary technicians earn a median salary of over $35,000 per year, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

During a veterinary technician program, students take courses in animal anatomy, pharmacology, and disease. Many programs also incorporate an internship. In Arizona, veterinary technicians must apply for a license from the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board. Candidates for licensure must complete an accredited two-year veterinary technician program and pass an exam.

Learn more about veterinary technician programs.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Students who choose a vocational or trade school in Arizona often save money on tuition compared to those attending four-year colleges and universities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and fees at four-year public schools in Arizona cost over $10,000 per year, on average, while two-year public schools charge around $2,000 per year.

Students can pursue financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education. To qualify for federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year. Federal aid may include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Many schools, professional organizations, and private foundations also offer scholarships for students at trade and tech schools in Arizona, as the next section discusses.

Additional Education and Career Resources

Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education A government site dedicated to postsecondary education in Arizona. Provides information on financial aid, planning, and higher education events, as well as other useful resources for parents, students and members of the public.
Arizona Department of Administration Provides information about Arizona's employment, including statistics and public records.
Arizona Department of Education - Adult Education Services Comprehensive information source for adult education within Arizona's school system. Provides information about specific programs, and resources for students already in adult education programs.
Arizona Department of Education - Career and Technical Education Offers information about Arizona's career and technical education system, including curriculum and program information, assessment standards, and information about student organizations and funding.
Association for Career and Technical Education of Arizona An association supporting and promoting the growth of vocational and trade education in Arizona. Hosts conferences and supplies information about news, events and awards.

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