Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

ASO Staff Writers
by
Updated April 16, 2024
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Why Choose Trade School?

More students are choosing to pursue trade degrees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, enrollment in trade schools increased 56% between 2013 and 2018. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 74% of students who earn an occupational credential earn a trade job in the field they study.

Trade schools benefit students who want to quickly enter the workforce. Vocational schools teach learners the skills they need to work in a vocational role, placing more emphasis on job functions rather than theory. While a traditional four-year degree typically covers multiple subjects and requires general education courses, a trade degree focuses on one topic.

Examples of trade school programs include welding, plumbing, and medical assisting.

On average, an associate trade degree takes about two years to complete. However, students who pursue a certificate may finish their studies sooner.

People who enjoy practical work often enjoy trade school. Most trade schools in Iowa allow students to complete apprenticeships or internships, which include supervised fieldwork. Most apprenticeships pay salaries.

Read on to learn more about how trade school can benefit students, scholarships reserved specifically for trade students, and how to select a trade school.

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FAQ on Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

question-mark-circleWhat kind of technical schools are there?

Tech schools in Iowa include medical trade schools, cosmetology schools, criminology schools, and welding schools.

question-mark-circleCan trade school credits transfer?

Most four-year universities accept credits from accredited trade schools. Many colleges allow transfer students to build upon an associate degree and work toward a bachelor’s degree.

question-mark-circleWhat is the difference between trade school and technical school?

These two terms are interchangeable. Trade schools and technical schools offer the same types of degrees and certificates.

question-mark-circleWhat is the highest paid trade?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapists earned a median annual salary of $99,710 in 2023.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Students researching vocational schools in Iowa should pay attention to accreditation status. Trade colleges can earn regional, national, or programmatic accreditation. When a school earns accreditation, it regularly receives quality assessments from a third-party organization.

Accreditation benefits students by ensuring that educational institutions uphold certain academic standards. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee accrediting agencies.

Certain employers may view degrees from regionally accredited schools as the most prestigious, and some scholarship committees reserve their awards specifically for students who attend regionally accredited schools.

The Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to vocational schools in Iowa. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges is one of the top national accrediting agencies specifically for trade schools. Online trade schools can earn national accreditation from organizations like the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Individual degrees can also earn programmatic accreditation. For example, the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care oversees accreditation for respiratory care programs.

Along with accreditation, vocational schools must also maintain a license to continue offering degrees to students. Prospective students can check a school’s accreditation status by using the ED’s database.

Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Finding the right trade school takes time. To help in the process, we create and regularly update this list of the top tech schools in Iowa. We rank these institutions based on factors like affordability and graduate success rates.

#1 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Kirkwood Community College

  • Location-markerCedar Rapids, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,280
  • Out-of-state$6,870
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled13,788
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Indian Hills Community College

  • Location-markerOttumwa, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,320
  • Out-of-state$5,760
  • Retention Rate59%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled3,612
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Western Iowa Tech Community College

  • Location-markerSioux City, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,672
  • Out-of-state$3,696
  • Retention Rate64%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,976
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Des Moines Area Community College

  • Location-markerAnkeny, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,800
  • Out-of-state$9,600
  • Retention Rate59%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled23,258
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment33%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Iowa Western Community College

  • Location-markerCouncil Bluffs, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,696
  • Out-of-state$5,856
  • Retention Rate50%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,977
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment51%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

  • Location-markerDavenport, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,376
  • Out-of-state$7,520
  • Retention Rate64%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled8,002
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Northeast Iowa Community College

  • Location-markerCalmar, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,220
  • Out-of-state$5,940
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled4,408
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment36%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Iowa Central Community College

  • Location-markerFort Dodge, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,980
  • Out-of-state$7,480
  • Retention Rate52%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,237
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment26%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Iowa Lakes Community College

  • Location-markerEstherville, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,856
  • Out-of-state$6,208
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,035
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Hawkeye Community College

  • Location-markerWaterloo, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,368
  • Out-of-state$6,078
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,112
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationYes
#11 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Marshalltown Community College

  • Location-markerMarshalltown, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,272
  • Out-of-state$4,608
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,947
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment71%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

North Iowa Area Community College

  • Location-markerMason City, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,793
  • Out-of-state$7,189
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,894
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment73%
  • AccreditationYes
#13 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Southeastern Community College

  • Location-markerWest Burlington, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,520
  • Out-of-state$5,670
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,478
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment47%
  • AccreditationYes
#14 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Southwestern Community College

  • Location-markerCreston, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,310
  • Out-of-state$5,520
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,581
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#15 Vocational Trade Schools in Iowa

Northwest Iowa Community College

  • Location-markerSheldon, IA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,190
  • Out-of-state$5,490
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,777
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment67%
  • AccreditationYes

Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Iowa

Career and technical education (CTE) programs in Iowa are organized within six key service areas: agriculture, family and consumer sciences, health occupations, business, industrial technology, and marketing.

The Iowa Department of Education requires that CTE programs include a work-based learning component like job shadowing, rotations, mentoring, internships, service learning, or apprenticeships.

Use the search tool below to find vocational and trade schools in Iowa that are the right match for you.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Career and salary outlook vary greatly between occupations. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for all trade school occupations in 2023 was $68,480.

Each industry offers different salary potential. For example, the BLS reports that welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers earned a median annual salary of $48,940 in 2023 and benefit from a projected job growth rate of 1% between 2022 and 2032. The BLS also reports that electricians earned a median annual salary of $61,590 in 2023 and will benefit from a projected job growth rate of 6% from 2022-2032.

Salary also depends on experience. For example, according to PayScale, entry-level radiologic technicians earn an average annual salary of $50,565, while radiologic technicians with more than 25 years of experience earn an average salary of $54,615 per year.

Geographic location also influences salaries For example, employers in Des Moines may pay more than employers in small rural towns. However, professionals who work in high-need areas like small towns may qualify for federal loan forgiveness.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Different trade schools focus on specific programs, so individuals must choose a school that aligns with their specific career goals. Trade schools offer programs in fields like health and emergency services, auto repair, and cosmetology.

Read on to learn about typical courses, job outcomes, and salary potential for dental hygienist, mechanic, paralegal, and radiology technician schools.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Trade schools accept funds from the FAFSA. This application takes first-time applicants about 55 minutes to complete and returning applicants 45 minutes to complete.

This application requires financial information for need-based funds. Applicants who file their taxes as dependents must enter their guardian’s tax information.

The FAFSA provides subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, and grants. Grants and subsidized loans require that applicants demonstrate financial need.

Students do not need to pay back grants, but they must pay back subsidized loans. Subsidized loans do not begin collecting interest until after the recipient graduates or stops maintaining enrollment. These loans do not require repayment until six months after graduation.

Unsubsidized loans are not need-based, but they begin accruing interest immediately once the recipient accepts the funds. Like subsidized loans, these loans do not require repayment until after a six-month grace period after graduation.

Federal loans and grants can make attending vocational school possible. In the section below, we highlight how scholarships can also provide financial assistance for students attending trade schools in Iowa.​

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Read on for a small sample of scholarships available to trade school students in Iowa.

Additional Education and Career Resources

Learn More…

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