Trade schools' curricula differ from traditional four-year colleges. Trade schools teach students how to complete skilled jobs that require special training, while a traditional college prepares students to work in roles that require knowledge about theories and strategies. Bachelor's degrees also include general education courses that may not directly relate to a major, so they take longer to complete than a trade degree.
A trade degree usually takes under two years to complete. Although most trade programs require in-person training like an apprenticeship, some schools offer online programs. Online trade programs use various flexible formats, including self-paced and asynchronous formats. Students who want to complete their degrees quickly can complete accelerated programs.
Read on to learn more about accreditation for trade schools, the top vocational schools in Arkansas, and financial aid.
|Can I get financial aid for trade school?||
Yes. Accredited trade schools in Arkansas can accept funds from FAFSA.
|How long does trade school take?||Trade school takes under two years to complete. Associate programs take longer to complete than certificates, which may take only two months.|
|Are scholarships available for vocational students?||Schools, private companies, and foundations all offer scholarships for vocational students. Most scholarships require students to attend an accredited school.|
|What is the difference between trade school and vocational school?||Trade schools, vocational schools, and technical schools are all the same type of institution. People use these terms interchangeably.|
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Vocational schools in Arkansas can earn accreditation. When a school earns this accolade, it means it regularly receives quality assessments from a third-party organization selected by the U.S. Department of Higher Education (ED).
Accreditation benefits students. It ensures that schools meet the rigorous standards needed to provide learners with a quality education.
The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges serves as the accrediting body for more than 650 postsecondary trade and technical schools. Online programs can also earn accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. These two organizations grant national accreditation.
Some institutions that offer trade degrees, like community colleges, can earn regional accreditation. Regional accrediting agencies oversee schools that offer two-year and four-year degrees. The Higher Learning Commission accredits colleges and universities in Arkansas.
Some scholarships only award funds to students attending a regionally accredited university, and some employers prefer job candidates with a regionally accredited degree.
Degrees can earn programmatic accreditation. For example, the Advanced Welding Institute oversees accreditation for welding programs, and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education provides accreditation to physical therapy programs. The ED offers a lookup tool so students can quickly research a school's accreditation status.
Trade colleges must also earn either a certification or license from either the ED or a state agency to ensure they meet certain standards. Students should contact prospective schools to discover their licensure status.
Vocational Trade Schools in Arkansas
Finding a qualified, accredited trade school takes research. To help in the process, we gathered data on trade and tech schools in Arkansas and rank them based on factors like reputation, affordability, and academic quality.
|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||North Arkansas College Harrison, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 21||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 24%||Financial Aid 32%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
With more than 40 programs leading to certificates and certificates of proficiency, North Arkansas College delivers vocational training in business, technology, law enforcement, allied health care, construction, agriculture and engineering disciplines. Technical certificate programs require 24-42 undergraduate credit hours for completion. Certificate of Proficiency programs provide benchmarks career knowledge in a professional skill, requiring 7-18 undergraduate semester credit hours. Wide-ranging areas of study include accounting, automotive technology (gas engine and collision repair), information technology (digital media, networking, software development), heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, small business management, crime scene investigation, emergency medical technician, nursing assistant, and welding.
|2||Arkansas Northeastern College Blytheville, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 11||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 20%||Financial Aid 26%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Arkansas Northeastern College complements its career certificate programs by arranging internships to help students integrate their learning with hands-on workplace experiences. ANC’s educational divisions serve the needs of students in allied health, allied technologies and in the arts and sciences. Technical certificate programs in allied health prepare students for positions in practical nursing, dental assisting, phlebotomy, emergency medical services and patient-care technology. The allied technology division has certificate of proficiency programs in welding, HVAC, construction technology, criminal justice, advanced manufacturing and in general aviation. Each certificate of proficiency program requires from 7 to 18 hours of coursework for completion.
|3||Northwest Technical Institute Springdale, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 8||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 44%||Financial Aid 8%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Allied health, business, information systems, and industrial arts lead the way in Northwest Technical Institute’s vocational diploma programs for working adults. Diploma programs in health include studies for practical and certified nursing assistants and in surgical technology. Business diploma programs focus on information systems, while the industrial arts department offers diploma programs in automotive technology, collision repair, diesel and truck repair, welding and ammonia refrigeration. Through NTI’s articulation partnerships with community colleges in Arkansas and Missouri, students can apply credits from their vocational diploma coursework toward an associate’s degree. All students have free access to Credo Reference, an online reference database.
|4||College of the Ouachitas Malvern, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 15||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 23%||Financial Aid 24%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
College of the Ouachitas’ Career Center helps high school students to get a vocational kick-start through concurrent enrollment in courses earning college credit. The occupational programs are in automotive technology, basic industrial maintenance, criminal justice, cosmetology, medical profession education or welding, meeting five days a week for two hours per session. The Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy at College of the Ouachitas offers six certificate programs with vocational training in customer service, bank teller operations, office technology, and industrial labor. All students in these programs gain computer literacy and job-readiness skills. Individual courses include CPR - BLS, welding, and massage training.
|5||University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Hope, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 11||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 23%||Financial Aid 13%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
The University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana is an accredited two-year school providing students with technical certificates and certificates of proficiency in business, healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. Certificate programs require 30 credits of study in the vocations, including child development, emergency medical services, funeral directing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, industrial technology (machining, mechanical), supply chain management, and practical nursing. Through its partnerships with other institutions specializing in law enforcement training, UACC offers certificate programs in crime scene investigation, and law enforcement administration. Qualified students enrolled in an Arkansas public or private high schools can take UACC courses as part-time students.
|6||Arkansas State University-Beebe Beebe, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 27||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 35%||Financial Aid 34%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|7||South Arkansas Community College El Dorado, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 19||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 10%||Financial Aid 4%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|8||Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas De Queen, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 14||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 22%||Financial Aid 16%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|9||National Park College Hot Springs, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 18||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 20%||Financial Aid 71%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|10||Southeast Arkansas College Pine Bluff, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 15||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 12%||Financial Aid 4%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|11||Phillips Community College Helena, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 11||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 25%||Financial Aid 17%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|12||East Arkansas Community College Forest City, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 14||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 12%||Financial Aid 15%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|13||Arkansas State University-Mountain Home Mountain Home, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 14||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 28%||Financial Aid 18%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|14||NorthWest Arkansas Community College Bentonville, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 17||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 14%||Financial Aid 4%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|15||University of Arkansas Community College-Morrilton Morrilton, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 9||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 28%||Financial Aid 30%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|16||Southern Arkansas University Tech Camden, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 11||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 42%||Financial Aid 22%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|17||Pulaski Technical College North Little Rock, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 33||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 13%||Financial Aid 25%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|18||Black River Technical College Pocahontas, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 11||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 14%||Financial Aid 9%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|19||University of Arkansas Rich Mountain Community College Mena, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 8||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 22%||Financial Aid 23%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
|20||Remington College-Little Rock Little Rock, AR||Tuition||# of Online Programs 5||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 60%||Financial Aid 83%||Credit For Experience No||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Arkansas
Arkansas emphasizes career and technical education (CTE) at the secondary level, which means high school students can prepare for vocational and trade careers.
The state's Smart Core program, a set of college-focused and career-focused courses, is the state's default curriculum for all public high schools. Every public school district is required to offer at least three CTE programs from three different career pathways.
Arkansas students can also attend Secondary Area Career Centers, which provide vocational programs that smaller schools often cannot afford. Postsecondary students can find vocational and trade schools through the state's community college system or attend one of three technical institutes.
To learn more about different vocational and trade schools in Arkansas, prospective students can use this search tool.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual income for technical and trade school occupations is $55,270. However, salaries vary based on specific occupation, experience, and geographical location.
With a median annual income of $56,180, electricians earn slightly more than the median income for all trade school occupations. The BLS projects a 10% increase in electrician jobs between 2018 and 2028. Welders earn a slightly lower median income of $42,490 per year, and the BLS projects the need for this occupation to grow by 3% during the same period.
Trade schools also prepare students to work in various roles in the medical field. Radiologists earn a median annual income of $62,280, and the BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 9% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also offers data for physical therapists, who earn a median annual salary of $89,440 and benefit from a 22% projected job growth rate.
Employers in larger cities like Little Rock or Fayetteville may pay higher salaries to trade school graduates to compensate for the higher cost of living. However, employers in rural towns may use federal aid to attract job candidates in high-need areas.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Trade school prepares students to work in multiple industries, including manufacturing, health, and construction. These occupations require technical skills, so courses focus on practical applications rather than theory. Some programs include an internship or apprenticeship component, which are sometimes paid positions.
Below are five common vocational programs in Arkansas.
- Construction Management Programs
Trade schools offer construction management programs that teach individuals how to supervise and budget for construction projects. These programs prepare students to work in office settings and conduct fieldwork to acquire estimates and quality assessments.
Required courses cover topics like progress reports, financial and timetable estimates, and legal requirements. According to the BLS, certain employers may require a bachelor's degree for this job.
Some states, like California, may require construction managers working on government projects to obtain a license. However, this law does not apply to construction managers working on privately owned projects.
Construction managers earn a median salary of $95,260 and the BLS projects this occupation to grow by 10% between 2018 and 2028.
Learn more about construction management degrees.
- Electrician Programs
Electrician programs prepare students to install and repair electrical systems. Courses teach learners how to read technical diagrams and blueprints, operate power tools on transformers, repair outdated wiring, and use testing devices to identify electrical issues.
An associate degree in this field takes learners about two years to complete. Common courses in an electrician program include introduction to wiring, principles of transformers, industrial safety, commercial systems, and logic controllers. Many electrician programs require an apprenticeship, and some courses may include fieldwork.
Students graduate from an electrician program knowing how to safely maintain and set up electrical systems. Electricians typically work full time and on weekends at homes and offices. Some electricians are self-employed.
- Radiology Technician Programs
Aspiring radiologists who want to work in hospitals and doctor's offices pursue this program. These professionals use imaging equipment to create x-rays for diagnostic purposes. Radiologists also administer nuclear medicine and complete ultrasounds.
Radiologists must earn an associate degree, which takes at least two years to complete. Common radiologists courses include radiation physics, sonography, nuclear medicine, and radiation therapy. Certain radiology programs include hands-on clinical experience during which students shadow current radiologists and produce images.
- Physical Therapy Programs
Students with an associate degree in this field can practice as physical therapists. Physical therapists help elderly and injured individuals regain mobility and manage pain. These professionals work actively with patients, so they must stay in good physical shape and be able to remain on their feet for extended periods. They often work in hospitals or rehabilitation settings.
The BLS projects a much faster-than-average job growth for this field. Physical therapists must have strong interpersonal communication skills and the ability to encourage patients.
Physical therapy programs teach students how to guide exercises using hands-on therapy, diagnose patients and create treatment plans, and review medical records. Common courses include introduction to neuroscience concepts, cardiopulmonary pathology, and healthcare issues.
- Respiratory Therapist Programs
Respiratory therapists assist patients who struggle with normal breathing, like individuals with asthma or pneumonia. They work in medical facilities and help patients of all ages.
These professionals need at least an associate degree to practice. Respiratory therapist programs take at least two years to complete and cover topics like cardiopulmonary disorders, how to complete a diagnostic test, how to operate tools like ventilators, best practices for record-keeping, and medical terminology. Common courses include cardiac anatomy and physiology, critical care techniques, respiratory equipment, therapeutics, and emergency care.
The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 21% between 2018 and 2028. Respiratory therapists earn a median income of $61,330.
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Vocational schools in Arkansas tend to cost less than traditional four-year colleges. Trade school students can benefit from federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA.
The FAFSA offers grants and subsidized loans on a need-based basis. Similar to scholarships, grants do not require repayment. Subsidized loans require repayment, but they do not begin collecting interest until after the recipient graduates.
Learners can also apply for unsubsidized loans through the FAFSA, which are not need-based and begin collecting interest before graduation. Prospective students should check whether a school accepts the FAFSA before applying.
Filling out the FAFSA typically takes 55 minutes for first-time applicants and 45 minutes for renewals. Students who file taxes as dependents must submit their guardian's tax information from two years prior to the current year. All other students can submit their own financial information.
Taking the time to fill out the FAFSA can lower future student loan payments. Student loans collect interest and usually follow a 10-year repayment plan. Specific interest rates vary by loan. Learners can also apply for scholarships to further reduce loans.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
Private companies and foundations set funds aside specifically for trade school students pursuing certain majors. Below are five scholarships for students attending vocational schools.
- Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Arkansas Department of Higher Education provides this scholarship to students pursuing technical education in fields like information technology and healthcare. Applicants must be Arkansas residents and high school graduates.Apply for Scholarship
Amount: Up to $800
- Cornerstone Scholarship Charitable Trust
Who Can Apply: African American students under 25 from Arkansas may apply for this scholarship. The recipient must enroll in an accredited university, college, or vocational school and demonstrate financial need.Apply for Scholarship
- Law Enforcement Officers' Dependents Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students attending a college or technical school in Arkansas may apply for this scholarship. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education offers this award to dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters, constables, and game wardens who were killed or permanently disabled while performing duties.Apply for Scholarship
- Military Dependents Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Arkansas Department of Education awards this scholarship to dependents or spouses of military personnel who were permanently disabled or killed on duty. The recipient must attend a university or technical college in Arkansas.Apply for Scholarship
- John W. Bailey Memorial Scholarship - Central Arkansas Section Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students pursuing a certificate program in welding at a Central Arkansas school may apply. The application requires two recommendation letters and financial transcripts.Apply for Scholarship
Additional Education and Career Resources
Division of the Arkansas Department of Education that oversees career education, including adult education, career and technical education and rehabilitation services. Comprehensive resource for information about vocational and trade education in Arkansas' school system.
Provides a variety of resources related to Arkansas' workforce, including information about career training, employment, and the state's labor market.
A college and career planning system to help Arkansas students learn about potential careers and the education necessary to get them.
Labor market information resource for Arkansas. Includes current employment data, industry and occupation projections, and helpful guides for individual vocational career clusters.