Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

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Updated November 2, 2022

What are the best trade schools in Hawaii? Here are our top 10: ; #1, University of Hawai'i Klamath Falls, CO ; #2, Utica College

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools, also known as vocational schools, offer career-centered programs that equip students with skills required in specific occupations. Traditional vocational programs cover trades like auto repair, elevator installation, HVAC, and welding.

The continued rise in the number of students who choose to enter the workforce sooner has fueled a demand for more diverse vocational programs. Trade schools now offer programs in information technology, medical assisting, and computer network management.

Vocational programs often take under two years to complete. By offering career-focused programs, trade schools save students time and money. Additionally, some vocational credits can transfer to an associate or bachelor's program.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 74% of students with an occupational credential work in jobs that are directly related to their field of study. On the other hand, 53% of students with academic credentials find work in their field of study after graduation.

As such, vocational schools in Hawaii and beyond can lead to lucrative and fulfilling careers.

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FAQ on Trade Schools

What is trade school?

A trade school is a postsecondary institution that offers skills-focused programs that prepare students for jobs in a specific sector or industry.

Can I go to trade school online?

Some vocational programs are available online. However, many online trade school programs use a hybrid delivery method.

Can I get financial aid for trade school?

Yes. Trade school students can receive financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

Are scholarships available for vocational students?

Most states maintain scholarship and grant programs specifically for trade school students. These programs typically include a residency requirement.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

A self-review and peer-review process, accreditation involves the close examination of a school's academic programs to determine whether they meet standards established by recognized accrediting organizations. Postsecondary institutions voluntarily seek accreditation to demonstrate their commitment to their students.

In the United States, the ED and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the accreditation process. Nonprofit universities typically seek regional accreditation. They can be public, private, two-year, or four-year schools. For-profit trade and sectarian schools usually seek national accreditation.

If you plan to apply for any type of financial aid from the government to help pay for your education, make sure you enroll in an accredited institution. The ED only channels federal assistance packages through accredited schools.

Additionally, schools holding the same type of accreditation often accept transfer credits from one another. Accredited institutions rarely accept credits earned at non-accredited schools.

The ED and CHEA recognize the Distance Education Accrediting Commission as the main accreditor for offsite education in the country, which includes online programs and schools. TheAccrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges serves as the principal accreditor for institutions offering technical or trade programs.

A school's license to operate is not the same as accreditation. An operating license means a school meets the minimum requirement to offer educational programs within the state. Accreditation evaluates the quality of a school's academic offerings. Be wary of schools that claim accreditation and a license are the same.

Vocational Trade Schools in Hawaii

The following list ranks the best trade schools in Hawaii. Ranking criteria include accreditation status, financial aid options, cost of attendance, and graduation rates.

#1 Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

Honolulu Community College

  • Honolulu, HI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can choose from 25 associate programs and 20 certificate programs at Honolulu Community College. From its Honolulu campus, the public institution lets learners choose from online and on-campus enrollment options. These flexible options help enrollees work while in school.

Many of the school's programs strengthen career-focused skills that train learners for a particular role. General education classes in associate programs build key soft skills like communication, writing, and critical thinking. Certificate candidates complete a focused curriculum that does not include classes outside of their field.

A certificate prepares graduates for the workforce. With an associate degree, graduates can apply for jobs or continue their education with a bachelor's degree.

Honolulu Community College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 1

Total Online Certificate Programs: Data not available

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,144

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $8,280

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,144
Out-of-state
$8,280
Retention Rate
54%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,510
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
No

#2 Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

Kapiolani Community College

  • Honolulu, HI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Kapiolani Community College offers 20 associate programs and 17 certificate programs. Learners choose from online and on-campus courses offered from the public school's Honolulu campus. Many students work while pursuing a degree or certificate.

Many of the school's programs encourage learners to train for a particular vocation after graduation. Associate programs incorporate general education classes that strengthen writing, communication, and other soft skills. Certificate candidates complete courses in their field of study without general education requirements.

A certificate prepares graduates for the workforce. With an associate degree, graduates can either enter the workforce or apply to four-year colleges as a transfer student.

Kapiolani Community College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 1

Total Online Certificate Programs: Data not available

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,144

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $8,280

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,144
Out-of-state
$8,280
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,488
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
No

#3 Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

Hawaii Community College

  • Hilo, HI
  • 2 years
  • Campus

Hawaii Community College enrolls students in 25 associate programs and 20 certificate programs. Based in Hilo, this public college features both online and on-campus enrollment options, creating flexibility for all types of learners. Enrollees rely on the flexible options to balance classes with work.

In the school's career-focused programs, students gain specialized skills for a defined career path or field. Associate programs include general education classes that strengthen critical thinking and writing skills. Certificate candidates take focused classes in their field rather than general education classes.

Professionals can apply for positions in their field with a certificate. After earning an associate degree, graduates can apply for jobs or continue their education at a four-year college.

Hawaii Community College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: Data not available

Total Online Certificate Programs: Data not available

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,144

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $8,280

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,144
Out-of-state
$8,280
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,615
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
No

#4 Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

University of Hawaii Maui College

  • Kahului, HI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Hawaii Maui College enrolls students in 23 associate programs and 17 certificate programs. Learners benefit from flexible enrollment options at the public institution, which includes online enrollment and classes on the Kahului campus. These flexible options appeal to busy students balancing school with other obligations.

Many of the school's programs strengthen career-focused skills that train learners for a particular role. General education classes in associate programs strengthen transferable skills like critical thinking and writing. Rather than taking general education courses, certificate candidates complete a focused curriculum of courses in their field of study.

A certificate trains graduates for entry-level positions in a specific field. After an associate degree, graduates can apply for jobs or continue their education at the bachelor's level.

University of Hawaii Maui College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 1

Total Online Certificate Programs: Data not available

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,144

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $8,280

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,144
Out-of-state
$8,280
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,992
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Vocational Trade Schools in Honolulu

Leeward Community College

  • Pearl City, HI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can enroll in 16 associate programs and 13 certificate programs at Leeward Community College. The public institution prioritizes flexibility in its course options, which include classes offered online and on the Pearl City campus. These flexible options help students work while in school.

Many of the school's programs encourage learners to train for a particular vocation after graduation. Associate degree-seekers also complete general education courses that build broad skills such as writing and critical thinking. Instead of general education courses, certificate candidates complete classes related to their field.

A certificate trains graduates for entry-level positions in a specific field. An associate degree prepares graduates for entry-level careers or bachelor's programs.

Leeward Community College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 3

Total Online Certificate Programs: 1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,144

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $8,280

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,144
Out-of-state
$8,280
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,568
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
No

Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Hawaii

Vocational and trade schools vary in the types of education and training they offer. To find the school near you that best fits your specific educational and career needs, use the search tool below.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Several factors influence career options and salary levels, including education, industry, and experience.

For example, most trade school programs only require 12-18 months to complete. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some trade school occupations earn higher salaries than jobs that require a two-year associate degree.

Electrical and electronics repairers earn a median annual salary of $78,410. Diagnostic medical sonographers, who need at least an associate degree to qualify for entry-level positions in the field, earn a median annual salary of $71,410.

The NCES cites psychology as one of the most popular bachelor's programs, with 117,000 degrees awarded during the 2015-16 school year. However, some of the most common positions for psychology graduates -- like rehab counselors ($35,950) and social workers ($50,470) -- earn much lower median annual salaries than plumbers ($55,160) and electricians ($56,180).

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Many vocational schools continue to offer programs in fields like automobile maintenance and repair, aviation mechanics, and plumbing. In addition, trade schools now offer different types of programs, including six-month certificates and two-year associate degrees in applied technology degrees.

Some tech schools partner with workers' unions or private companies to administer apprenticeships, which can last up to four years.

See below for some of the most common vocational programs available today.

Beauty and Cosmetology Schools

Most vocational schools offer cosmetology programs that take 9-11 months to complete. Programs offered by community colleges take a bit longer, often up to two years, and students graduate with an associate degree.

States require cosmetologists to be licensed. Without a well-designed curriculum, students may experience difficulty passing the licensure exam.

Additionally, you can only sit for the exam if you completed a program from an accredited school. The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences is the main accreditor in this field.

Some schools offer cosmetology specializations like nail technology or hair coloring. Pursuing a specialization may add to the length of your program.

Construction Management Schools

Construction management programs typically take two years to complete. States do not require licensure for this field. However, earning a certification can increase your chances of getting hired or advancing in your career.

The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) offers different levels of stackable certifications. CMAA certifications are widely recognized in the field.

Many construction management schools offer foundational courses in project management and resource control; blueprint reading; cost estimating; and building construction methods, materials, and equipment. Be sure to enroll in an accredited school or program, especially if you eventually plan to pursue a four-year program in construction management.

Medical Assistant Schools

Medical assistants often work as part of a team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners to provide timely patient care in hospitals, private practices, and rehabilitation facilities. Depending on the size and services provided by their workplace, medical assistants can perform administrative or clerical functions, provide clinical assistance, or both.

Medical assisting programs typically take one year to complete. Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees in the field. Choose a program that includes both a clinical training component and classroom instruction, since your job will likely require working directly with patients in some capacity.

You do not need to be licensed to work as a medical assistant. However, many employers look for certification from a reputable organization such as the Association of Medical Assistants, especially if you do not have several years of professional experience.

Electrician Schools

Electrician programs at trade schools usually take one year to complete. States require licensure, which in turn requires some type of practical training. Most trade school electrician programs include an internship or practicum to meet this requirement.

You can also become an electrician by completing an apprenticeship, which is a paid position. Trade unions and private companies often maintain apprenticeship programs, which can last up to four years.

Apprentice electricians work alongside master electricians. They start by learning how to perform basic electrical work and gradually assume more responsibilities as they gain practical experience.

The BLS reports that electricians earned an annual median salary of $56,180 in 2019. The BLS projects a 10% growth rate for electrician jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Mechanic Schools

Mechanic programs at vocational or trade schools usually take 12 months to complete. Students receive classroom instruction and practical training. After graduation, they are prepared to sit for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exams.

Although states do not require licensure for auto mechanics, many employers prefer to hire mechanics with some type of industry-recognized certification and field experience.

There are over 40 ASE certification tests covering many specialized sectors of the automotive mechanic field, including collision repair, brakes, diesel engines, and suspension and steering. Mechanics must take the test every five years to maintain their certification.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Begin your search for financial aid by completing the FAFSA. Most accredited postsecondary institutions (including vocational schools) rely on the information you provide on the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for scholarships or grants.

Private donors and sponsoring organizations often also use FAFSA information to allocate financial aid packages. Trade school students may qualify for need-based federal programs like the Pell Grant. Some trade schools also offer their own scholarship programs, which can be need-based or merit-based.

If you need to take out a student loan, consider borrowing from the government before consulting private lenders. Federal student loans typically maintain lower interest rates that remain fixed for the life of the loan. In most cases, loan repayment starts only after you graduate from your program.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Hawaii is proud of its long heritage and seeks to support its native students through scholarship opportunities. The foundation-based scholarships below each administer several financial aid programs.

Hana Lima Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship only accepts applications from students enrolled in trade schools in Hawaii. Applicants must have native Hawaiian ancestry, be a high school graduate (or have a GED), demonstrate financial need, and have a 2.0 GPA.
Amount: $1,500

Apply for Scholarship

Hawaii Community Foundation

Who Can Apply: The foundation administers several scholarship and grant programs for different types of students, including those who plan to attend a trade or vocational school program. The criteria for each scholarship vary, but many are need-based and require applicants to be Hawaii residents.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must submit a 750-word essay on two of the three topics in the online application form. Applicants must enroll full time in a vocational or undergraduate program and have a high school GPA of at least 2.5.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Horatio Alger Association Career and Technical Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This scholarship accepts applications from students under 30 who plan to pursue a technical education program. Applicants must demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity and obstacles and demonstrate critical financial need.
Amount: Up to $2,500

Apply for Scholarship

Pauahi Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Administering over 100 scholarship programs, the Pauahi Foundation accepts applications from students of Hawaiian ancestry. The foundation welcomes applications from students enrolled in diverse fields of study, including those pursuing a program at trade schools, community colleges, and universities.
Amount: Varies Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

Career and Technical Education Center - Hawaii

The CTE Center develops the standards and training programs for vocational and trade schools in Hawaii, as well as CTE courses at the secondary level.

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations provides information on wages, unemployment insurance, industry trends and workforce development in the state.

Hawai'i Workforce Infonet

Includes data on Hawaii's unemployment rates, employment projections, wages for specific industries and green jobs.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association

The state's professional organization for workers in the hospitality and tourism industry. Provides information on events, seminars and career opportunities for working professionals.

Healthcare Association of Hawaii

Professional organization for healthcare employees in the states, providing resources, reports, and information on opportunities for continuing education.

Workforce Development Division

Hawaii's Workforce Development Division provides assistance to employers and job hunters. WDD works with educators and employers to identify skills needed in the workplace and the best strategies for teaching them to students.

Learn More...

TRADE AND VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS

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