Vocational Trade Schools in Florida

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools offer career-centered programs that prepare students for specific occupations. Also referred to as vocational or tech schools, these programs prepare students for careers in areas like plumbing, auto mechanics and repair, healthcare, and technology.

Trade schools offer several advantages. Trade schools typically only take 1-2 years to complete, preparing graduates for the workforce faster than four-year programs. Additionally, professionals with an occupational credential experience lower unemployment rates than professionals with academic credentials, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This guide provides important information for students considering vocational schools in Florida, including financial aid opportunities, potential careers and salaries for graduates, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Top 10 Vocational Trade Schools in Florida

Rank School Location
1 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
2 Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL
3 Palm Beach State College Lake Worth, FL
4 Miami Dade College Miami, FL
5 Gulf Coast State College Panama City, FL
6 Broward College Fort Lauderdale, FL
7 Valencia College Orlando, FL
8 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL
9 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL
10 Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey, FL
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FAQ

QUESTIONANSWER
Can I get financial aid for trade school?Yes, students at trade schools typically qualify for financial aid opportunities. However, students must attend an accredited school to qualify for federal aid.
Can trade school credits transfer?Some two- and four-year colleges accept transfer credits from accredited trade schools. Students should research the transfer credit policies at each prospective school.
What is the difference between trade school and technical school?Technical schools often offer computer-oriented training programs, while trade schools focus more on occupations that require manual skills, such as plumbing and construction.
How long does trade school take?Most trade school programs take about 1-2 years to complete.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to factors like faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, trade, and vocational schools.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants regional accreditation to Florida schools, while organizations like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges grant national accreditation to vocational schools. Additionally, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission accredits online schools.

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

Vocational Trade Schools in Florida

The following list ranks the best vocational schools in Florida to help students find the right program for their needs.

  1. Florida State College at Jacksonville
    Location

    Jacksonville, FL

    Founded in 1966,Florida State College at Jacksonville enrolls around 52,000 students annually. FSCJ offers 45 associate degrees and over 100 technical certificates and workforce certifications. Students can also earn bachelor's degrees in 13 subjects. The college's flexible enrollment options include hybrid and online classes.

    Students can pursue vocational training in automotive service management technology, aviation maintenance management, and culinary management. The college's allied healthcare programs include options in cardiovascular technology, dental hygiene, medical laboratory technology, and radiation therapy. FSCJ also offers vocational certificates in unique specialties like chemical laboratory specialist, environmental science technician, and scientific workplace preparation.

    In addition to vocational degrees and certificates, FSCJ offers apprenticeship programs for automotive service mechanics, carpenters, electricians, and HVAC technicians. One of the most affordable trade schools in Florida, FSCJ provides financial aid opportunities for students.

  2. Indian River State College
    Location

    Fort Pierce, FL

    A public college located in Fort Pierce, Indian River State College offers a variety of vocational degree and certificate programs on its 87-acre main campus and several branch campuses. IRSC prioritizes accessibility and affordability while providing on-campus and online instruction to students.

    Students can earn associate degrees in building construction technology, culinary management, electronics engineering technology, and electrical power technology. The college also offers associate degrees in healthcare fields like dental hygiene, radiography, and respiratory care.

    IRSC's vocational certificates include options in automotive service technology, aviation, medical assisting, phlebotomy, and surgical technology. Students can also pursue short-term training in firefighting, the culinary arts, dental assisting technology, and pest control operations. Additionally, the school offers apprenticeship programs in aviation, culinary operations, plumbing, welding, and other in-demand areas.

  3. Palm Beach State College
    Location

    Lake Worth, FL

    Founded in 1933, Palm Beach State College enrolls nearly 49,000 students annually and ranks among the best vocational schools in Florida.

    The school offers associate degrees in areas like ophthalmic medical technology, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, and radiography. Students can also earn associate degrees in emergency medical services, electrical power technology, engineering technology, and environmental science technology.

    The college offers vocational certificates for paramedics, biotechnology laboratory specialists, environmental science technicians, hazardous materials specialists, and mechanics. In the allied health field, students can earn certificates in practical nursing, patient care assisting, medical assisting, surgical technology, and dental assisting.

    PBSC also offers apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Students work for a private sector sponsor to complete their training.

  4. Miami Dade College
    Location

    Miami, FL

    The largest college in the Florida College System, Miami Dade College enrolls over 92,000 students annually. One of the top trade schools in Florida, MDD prioritizes personal attention and community on its eight campuses. The college offers dozens of vocational certificates and degrees.

    MDC offers associate degrees in areas such as culinary arts management, electronics engineering technology, funeral services, and industrial engineering technology. The college also offers allied health degrees in dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, radiography, veterinary technology, and respiratory care.

    Students can earn vocational certificates in transportation, manufacturing, mechatronics, and information technology. MDC also offers apprenticeship programs that pair students with employers who provide paid work experience. The college reports that 94% of apprentices retain their employment after completing the program.

  5. Gulf Coast State College
    Location

    Panama City, FL

    A public college in Panama City, Gulf Coast State College ranks among the top Florida technical colleges. Gulf Coast offers workforce-focused associate degrees and technical certificates with affordable tuition rates.

    Students can earn an associate degree in fields like dental medicine, emergency medical services, and engineering technology. The college also offers associate programs in culinary management, radiography, veterinary medicine, and surgical services.

    Students can earn vocational certificates in unique areas like alternative energy systems; composite fabrication; and pneumatics, hydraulics, and motors manufacturing. Students can also earn certificates in dental assisting, automation, emergency services, and surgical technology. In addition to vocational certificates and degrees, Gulf Coast provides apprenticeship opportunities that combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training.

  6. Broward College
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    A public college in Fort Lauderdale, Broward College grants associate degrees and vocational certificates in many high-demand fields. The college reports a track record of developing one-year certificates in current and emerging industries, which help students build valuable skills for an evolving workforce.

    Broward College offers dozens of career-focused associate degrees. Learners can pursue associate degrees in fields like marine engineering management, automotive service management technology, vision care technology, and aviation maintenance management. The college also offers degrees in radiography, respiratory care, culinary arts management, and paralegal studies.

    Students can earn vocational certificates in healthcare careers like medical office management, medical sonography, and radiation therapy. In the technical field, Broward College grants vocational certificates in areas like avionics technology, marine technology, and automotive service technology. Students can also pursue apprenticeships in several fields.

  7. Valencia College
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Founded in 1967 as a public college, Valencia College offers accelerated skills training and vocational programs that prepare graduates for the workforce.

    The school offers associate degrees in areas like baking and pastry management, electronics engineering, CAD drafting, and fire science technology. The college also offers several healthcare associate degrees, including options in cardiovascular technology, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical sonography, and medical administration.

    The vocational certificates at Valencia College prepare students for careers in technical fields, healthcare, and the skilled trades. Students can earn a certificate in construction technology, emergency medical services technology, radiography, or veterinary technology. The college also offers technical certificates with apprenticeship training in the culinary arts.

  8. Seminole State College of Florida
    Location

    Sanford, FL

    Founded on a former citrus grove in 1966, Seminole State College of Florida now operates four campuses in central Florida. The college enrolls nearly 30,000 students annually and ranks among the best trade schools in Florida.

    Seminole State provides job-focused associate degrees and vocational certificates in dozens of areas, including automotive engineering technology, fire service technology, and emergency medical services. Seminole State also offers degrees in health services management, industrial technology management, and construction management.

    Students can pursue vocational certificates in areas like automotive services, construction, and allied healthcare. The college also offers construction apprenticeships that provide on-the-job training in commercial electricity, plumbing technology, and fire sprinkler system technology.

  9. Tallahassee Community College
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    A public college in Florida's state capital, Tallahassee Community College dates back to 1966. Today, TCC offers 70 degree and certificate programs that prepare graduates for the workforce.

    TCC offers associate degrees in areas like engineering technology, building construction management, and pharmacy management. The college also trains students for careers in healthcare through its degrees in dental hygiene, radiologic technology, surgical services, and emergency medical services technology.

    Students can pursue vocational certificates in areas such as welding technology, machining, industrial machinery maintenance, and pipefitting. In the healthcare field, TCC offers certificates for endoscopy technicians, pharmacy technicians, surgical technology specialists, and paramedics. The college's apprenticeship opportunities include programs for electricians, HVAC technicians, pipefitters, and plumbers.

  10. Pasco-Hernando State College
    Location

    New Port Richey, FL

    Pasco-Hernando State College prioritizes small class sizes, affordable tuition rates, and personalized attention. The college offers career-focused training in more than 30 areas. Students can earn associate degrees in areas like engineering technology, industrial management technology, and aviation maintenance administration. The college also grants allied health degrees in emergency medical services, radiography, and nursing.

    Vocational certificates at PHSC train students in fields such as welding technology, phlebotomy, emergency services, and surgical technology. The college integrates experiential learning into its programs through internship, service learning, and extended volunteering opportunities. Apprenticeships also help students build hands-on skills.

    The college features an open-door policy, accepting all high school graduates and GED diploma recipients. In addition to on-campus programs, PHSC offers online classes to fit the schedules of busy students.

Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Florida

In Florida, students can begin taking career and technical education (CTE) courses as early as ninth grade, and continue that education through community college. Florida hosts 718 public high schools and 63 community colleges that offer CTE training.

Use the search tool below to find the best vocational and trade schools in Florida.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Trade school graduates can work in diverse roles, like nail technician, aviation mechanic, network administrator, and occupational therapy assistant. Due to the abundant variation of roles, salaries for trade school graduates vary significantly. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that vocational school careers offer an average annual salary of around $55,000.

Healthcare support occupations pay around $45,000 per year, on average, while personal care and service occupations pay around $32,000 annually. Meanwhile, managerial roles pay an average of over $96,000 per year.

Many trade school careers offer above-average growth potential. For example, the BLS projects HVAC techniciansparalegals, and occupational therapy assistants to experience much faster-than-average job growth between 2018 and 2028.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

According to the Florida Department of Education, 36% of the fastest-growing job sectors in the Sunshine State require a postsecondary non-degree career certificate or an associate degree. Therefore, trade schools in Florida play an important role in providing well-trained workers to support the state’s economy. The following list outlines several popular trade school programs.


  • Dental Hygienist Schools

    An accredited dental hygienist trade program typically takes 18 months of full-time study to complete. Students complete career-focused classes in addition to hands-on training. According to the
    BLS, dental hygienists earned an annual median salary of $76,220 in 2019 and enjoy an 11% projected job
    growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

    Most states require dental hygienists to hold a license. Licensure requirements include passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Only students who complete a program accredited
    by the Commission on Dental Accreditation can sit for the exam.


  • Mechanic Schools

    Trade school mechanic programs usually take one year to complete and include extensive hands-on training. Completing a trade school mechanic program or apprenticeship meets the educational
    requirements to sit for the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification administered by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.

    The ASE also requires a minimum of two years of on-the-job training. Professionals in this field can specialize in a variety of areas, such as electrical/electronic systems, collision repair,
    and suspension and steering. The BLS does not project a robust growth rate for jobs in this sector, although automotive and service technicians
    earn a median salary that exceeds the national average.


  • Paralegal Schools

    Most paralegals need an associate degree or a certificate. Many vocational schools offer paralegal certificate programs that comprise 18-30 credits and take 1-2 years to complete. Learners
    study topics such as legal research, ethics, administrative law, and contracts.

    The BLS projects a 12% growth rate for paralegal jobs between 2018 and 2028. These professionals
    earned a median annual salary of more than $51,000 in 2019. Paralegal certificate programs prepare students for entry-level positions, but many employers prefer candidates with a related associate
    degree.


  • Radiology Technician Schools

    Many organizations require radiology technicians to hold an associate degree in the field. While vocational schools that offer two-year associate degrees in radiology technology exist, these
    programs are more often available at community colleges.

    Most radiology technicians work in general medical and surgical hospitals, but they may also work in doctors’ offices, outpatient care centers, and medical and diagnostic laboratories. The BLS
    reports that radiology technicians earned a median annual salary of $62,280 in 2019. These professionals
    enjoy a faster-than-average projected job growth rate of 9% between 2018 and 2028.


Financial Aid for Trade School Students

While trade and vocational programs typically cost much less than four-year programs, they still require a significant financial investment. Students can help offset the cost of their education through financial aid opportunities, such as loans, scholarships, and grants. Learners at accredited trade schools qualify for federal financial aid. Students must submit the FAFSA every year to determine their eligibility for federal aid.

Students with demonstrable financial need can also apply for federal grants like the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not require repayment, making them the ideal forms of financial aid.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

The following list highlights several scholarship and grant opportunities for students at vocational schools in Florida. Learners can also research additional scholarship opportunities based on factors like their identity, financial need, and area of study.


  • AWS Welder Training Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Students accepted to a welding training program at a trade school or community college can apply for this scholarship. Students submit applications through their
    local AWS district.
    Amount: $1,000

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Executive Women International ASIST (Adult Students in Scholarstic Transition) Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This funding opportunity accepts applications from learners facing socioeconomic or physical difficulties that prevent them from continuing their vocational
    education or training.
    Amount: $2,000-$10,000

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Florida Public Postsecondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant Program

    Who Can Apply: Florida students enrolled at least part time in a career certificate program at an accredited trade school can apply for this grant.
    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Horatio Alger Association Career & Technical Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: Candidates for these scholarships must be under 30, enrolled in a technical education program, and demonstrate financial need.
    Amount: $2,500

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractor (PHCC) National Association Educational Foundation Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Applicants must show proof of enrollment in a plumbing and heating/cooling program at a trade school or community college. Plumbing and heating apprentices and
    professionals can also apply to the program.
    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship


Additional Education and Career Resources


  • Career and Technical Education

    This page of the School District of Osceola County provides information on the areas of study for students pursuing CTE education in Florida and the careers that this education can lead to.

  • Enterprise Florida

    This site provides in-depth information on the key industries in Florida, such as aviation and aerospace, life sciences, defense and homeland security, and manufacturing.

  • Florida Association for Career and Technical Education

    This nonprofit group is dedicated to advancing career and technical education in the state by providing support to students, teachers, and administrators. The association provides CTE training
    materials and news about this area of the educational field.

  • Florida Department of Economic Opportunity - Employment Projections to 2021

    Provides employment projection data that can be searched by Florida counties and regions.

  • Florida Ready to Work

    This workforce education program provides assessments that allow job seekers to certify their qualifications in order to find employment. In addition, the organization works with educators to
    ensure that students are taught the skills that employers expect.

  • Florida Research and Economic Information Database

    Provides data on general Florida employment and employment in specific sectors, as well as wages, and unemployment in different regions.

  • The CTE Equation in Florida

    This study, conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses, provides information on CTE programs in Florida and their impact on different sectors of the state’s workforce.

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