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.
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|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From its campus near Sarasota Bay, Manatee Technical College offers over 50 career prep programs. The college's vocational options include programs in health science, construction services, transportation, manufacturing, and information technology.
The college offers healthcare programs in medical assisting, dental assisting technology, and medical laboratory assisting. Students can also pursue specialized healthcare programs to prepare for careers as optometric assistants, patient care technicians, and pharmacy technicians.
In the culinary arts, students can earn certificates in baking and pastry arts or food service. MTC also offers apprenticeship programs that partner with local employers, preparing students to immediately enter the workforce after graduation.
A public college in Daytona Beach, Daytona State College dates back to 1957. Today, Daytona State offers over 100 degree and certificate programs. The college's vocational programs train students for careers in engineering, technology, business, healthcare, and other growing fields.
Daytona State offers associate degrees in areas like emergency medical services, electronics engineering technology, and environmental science technology. Students can also study hospitality management, industrial management technology, and culinary management.
Additionally, Daytona State offers apprenticeship programs for prospective electricians, plumbers, and pipefitters. These programs blend classroom and on-the-job training. The college features an open-door policy, accepting all students with a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Founded in 1963, Northwest Florida State College grants certificates and degrees from its campus in the Florida panhandle. The college offers dozens of vocational programs that emphasize marketable skills designed for the local workforce.
Students can earn an associate degree in engineering technology with specializations in digital manufacturing or electronics. The college also offers degrees and certificates in allied health occupations, including nursing, radiography, and dental assisting.
The school's registered apprenticeships combine classroom instruction with on-the-job learning. Students can pursue apprenticeships in hospitality, machining, carpentry, and plumbing. Northwest Florida State College also offers online courses to fit the schedules of busy students.
From its 106-acre campus in Orange County, Orange Technical College-Mid Florida Campus offers vocational programs and apprenticeship training. The technical college operates an animation, programming, and design training center to prepare graduates for careers in Orlando's $5 billion industry.
Students can also pursue vocational certificates in fields like electronic system integration, lodging operations, machining technologies, and welding technology. Additionally, the college offers automotive programs with specializations in collision technology, service technology, and diesel systems.
The college's apprenticeship programs include classroom learning and on-the-job training in a real-world environment. Registered apprentices receive pay from their employer while engaging in no-cost training. After completing the program, apprentices can become journeymen in the skilled trades.
A public college in Gainesville, Santa Fe College dates back to 1965 and enrolls around 18,000 students annually. The college prioritizes educational opportunity and economic development through its vocational programs.
The college reports that over 90% of career and technical students either enter the workforce or pursue a higher degree upon graduation. Students can earn associate degrees in areas such as chemical technology, biotechnology lab technology, and biomedical equipment. The college also offers degrees in diagnostic medical sonography, dental hygiene, emergency medical services, and radiography.
Vocational certificates include options in automotive service technology, applied welding technology, and surgical technology. Santa Fe College also offers apprenticeship programs for carpenters and electrical construction professionals.
St. Petersburg College, located in Pinellas County, offers over 110 degree and certificate programs. According to SPC, over 90% of graduates find jobs in their field, continue their education, or serve in the military.
Students at SPC can earn associate degrees in areas like engineering technology, biotechnology laboratory technology, and environmental science technology. They can also pursue allied health associate degrees in dental hygiene, emergency medical services, radiography, and respiratory care. Additionally, SPC offers vocational certificates for laboratory specialists, medical coders, paramedics, and water quality technicians.
One of the most affordable trade schools in Florida, SPC charges about half the tuition rate of state universities. SPC also offers flexibility through its online courses and 11 onsite locations. All applicants with a high school diploma or the equivalent can enroll thanks to the college's open-door admission policy.
A public college in Brevard County, Eastern Florida State College ranks among the top trade schools in Florida. Students can pursue associate degrees in areas such as aerospace technology, chemical technology, and engineering technology.
The college's healthcare degrees include programs in emergency medical services, medical assisting, surgical technology services, and veterinary nursing. Students can also pursue degrees in culinary management, industrial management, and logistics.
EFSC offers vocational certificates in fields such as dental assisting, veterinary practice management, and alternative energy systems. The college supports students through tutoring, advising, and a career center that offers job search tools. Students seeking a flexible schedule can take online classes and design a hybrid degree at EFSC.
A public college founded in 1948, Pensacola State College enrolls 26,000 students annually through over 100 programs. The school offers associate degrees in areas such as mechanical fabrication, construction technology, and electronics engineering technology. Students can also pursue associate degrees in culinary management, pharmacy management, and health services management.
PSC offers vocational certificates in areas like carpentry, welding technology, and plumbing technology. Students can also earn allied health degrees and certificates in radiography, sonography, medical assisting, and medical information coding.
Students benefit from advising services that include program and career planning. The workforce education department at PSC helps students build employable skills and identify job opportunities. The office provides job placement assistance for students and connects students with work-study opportunities.
A public college founded in 1962, Lake-Sumter State College ranks among the top trade schools in Florida. From its three campuses in the greater Orlando area, LSSC offers vocational training that prepares students for the workforce.
Students can earn an associate degree in electrical distribution technology, engineering technology, or nursing. The college's vocational certificates include programs for chemical lab specialists, electric utility lineworkers, and engineering technology support specialists. Students can also train for careers as medical information billers or medical office administrators at LSSC.
In addition to degrees and certificates, LSSC provides hands-on training through its apprenticeship programs. LSSC's career services office helps students plan their training and gain the professional experience necessary for their field.
Marion Technical College offers 27 programs in fields like construction, public safety, manufacturing, and the health sciences. MTC prioritizes hands-on training in its vocational programs. In addition to classroom instruction, students complete laboratory and externship requirements.
Students can pursue programs in the culinary arts, welding technologies, and electrical technologies. The college also offers healthcare training that prepares students for roles as medical assistants, medical clinical laboratory technicians, and medical administrative specialists.
Additionally, students can pursue apprenticeship opportunities, including an electrical apprenticeship that prepares learners to work in residential, commercial, and industrial electricity. MTC students benefit from career counseling and academic advising.
One of the top-ranked Florida technical colleges, the Flagler Technical Institute provides career-focused training from its campus in Palm Coast. Students can pursue training for in-demand career paths.
The school offers vocational certificates in areas such as electrical and air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology. The institute also offers commercial vehicle driving training, heavy equipment operations certificates, and allied health certificates. For example, students can pursue training as a medical assistant, nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, or patient care technician at FTI.
The institute also offers apprenticeships for students interested in the construction trades. FTI's programs provide a personalized, hands-on approach to building workforce-ready skills.
Located on Stock Island, Florida Keys Community College offers career-oriented associate degree and certificate programs. In addition to its main campus in Key West, FKCC operates locations in Key Largo and Marathon.
Students can earn associate degrees in areas such as culinary management, engineering technology, and emergency medical services. The college's degrees in diving technology, marine environmental technology, and marine engineering prepare graduates for in-demand local jobs. The college also offers certificates for diving medical technicians, diving professionals, and commercial divers.
Additionally, students can pursue apprenticeships in construction technologies that prepare graduates for high-wage careers. The tuition-free apprenticeship programs pay students while they take classes. An open-access institution, FKCC admits all students with a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Founded in 1967, Florida Panhandle Technical College offers over 30 vocational programs that provide academic and technical training to prepare students for employment in high-demand fields.
The college promotes the concept of "a career in a year" through its short-term certificates.
Students interested in the skilled trades can earn certificates in areas such as cabinetmaking, carpentry, and welding technology.
Learners interested in healthcare can train for careers as patient care technicians, medical billers, and medical administrative specialists. The college's healthcare options also include a nursing program. As one of the top technical schools in Florida, FPTC integrates hands-on training into all of its programs.
Located in the Liberty City area of Miami, D. A. Dorsey Technical College offers postsecondary education. In addition to adult basic education courses, the college offers career and technical certificate programs.
The college's vocational programs train graduates in transportation, commercial foods, the culinary arts, personal services, construction, and healthcare. Students can earn certificates to work as patient care assistants, medical assistants, and pharmacy technicians. Learners can also earn an automotive service technology certificate.
The college offers a career pathways orientation program to help students explore career opportunities and identify their strengths. Learners examine 16 different career clusters and learn about in-demand industries in Florida.
Located in Pensacola, George Stone Technical College offers a variety of career and technical programs. Students can earn certificates in healthcare, the skilled trades, and other in-demand fields.
For example, the college trains emergency medical technicians, medical administrative specialists, and nursing assistants through its certificate programs. Students can also earn a certificate in marine service technology, professional culinary arts and hospitality, or welding technology.
In addition to certificate options, the college offers an electrical apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with classroom study. Apprentices receive pay while attending class one night a week. George Stone's open-enrollment policy admits all students with a high school diploma or the equivalent. New classes typically start on the first Monday of the month.
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 technicians, paralegals, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who Can Apply: Candidates for these scholarships must be under 30, enrolled in a technical education program, and demonstrate financial need.
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.