Why Choose Trade School?
A trade or vocational school is a postsecondary institution designed to prepare students for work in skilled professions. Learners can attend specialized trade schools or colleges that offer associate degrees in a variety of vocational disciplines. In Kansas, most trade and vocational programs are available through community and technical colleges. Common trade fields include auto repair, plumbing, radiology technology, medical sonography, paralegal studies, construction management, dental hygiene, and database administration.
The program length, course requirements, and cost of trade school programs differ from academic options. Most trade or vocational programs require 6-24 months to complete, while bachelor's programs typically last four years. Trade programs also typically cost less than academic degrees. Trade school curricula prepare students to perform profession-specific tasks and usually include hands-on training. Trade programs may include an apprenticeship, clinical training, or supervised work hours. Trade school graduates often pursue licensure or certification, depending on their profession and state requirements.
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|What do trade schools offer?||Trade schools provide coursework and hands-on training. Students learn the skills necessary to work in a trade or technical field.|
|Can trade school credits transfer?||Depending on the schools' transfer policies, learners can potentially transfer credits earned from trade schools. Credits transfer more easily between schools with similar accreditation.|
|What is the difference between trade school and technical school?||The terms trade school, technical school, and vocational school all refer to postsecondary institutions that train students for specific vocations.|
|How much does a trade school cost?||The cost of trade school depends on the type of school and program. Private trade schools are typically more expensive than public schools.|
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Trade and vocational schools may be licensed and accredited. Accreditation and licensing provide quality assurance for students and parents by certifying that a school meets set standards.
Academic institutions in the U.S. can hold national or regional accreditation. Six accrediting agencies award regional accreditation, which is the most prestigious type of accreditation. Credits and degrees earned from regionally accredited schools typically transfer easily to other institutions.
Trade and vocational programs, however, typically receive national accreditation. National accrediting agencies often specialize in a certain field or profession. Learners can also look for accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, which accredits more than 650 trade and technical schools each year. Online programs may hold national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Typically, state agencies license trade and vocational schools. However, the specific licensing agency varies by state. Each state's department of education often licenses vocational programs. Some programs may hold licensure from an field-specific agency, such as a state department of transportation.
Students should research each prospective school's accreditation and licensing status to ensure its programs meet educational standards.
Vocational Trade Schools in Kansas
Program offerings vary by trade school. Some institutions focus on a particular career, while others deliver programming in various fields. Many two-year and four-year colleges offer associate degrees in trades and technical professions. The list below ranks the top trade schools in Kansas.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Many graduates of trade and vocational programs earn salaries that equal or exceed those of academic degree-holders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers earned a median annual salary of $55,160 in 2019, while journalists and news correspondents earned a median annual salary of $43,490 in 2018. However, an individual's salary potential depends on factors including industry, geography, candidate experience, and position.
Location can also impact the earning potential for trade professionals and technicians. Professionals in cities with high costs of living can often charge more for their services. However, operation costs are generally higher in these cities.
Earning potential and employment opportunities also vary by field. According to the BLS, the top-paying states for plumbers include Illinois, Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The BLS projects a 14% increase in employment for plumbers between 2018 to 2028, a rate much faster than average for all occupations.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Vocational programs are available for a variety of trades and technical professions. Trade school students often complete apprenticeships or hands-on training to prepare for the workforce.
Trade professionals include electricians, plumbers, welders, cosmetologists, mechanics, paralegals, dental hygienists, and construction managers. In recent years, more trades have developed in the fields of medical technology and computer information systems. This section highlights a few common trade programs.
Dental Hygienist Schools
Dental hygienists examine patients' oral health, conduct cleanings, and assist dentists. These professionals take dental X-rays, document patient treatment plans, and educate patients about oral hygiene techniques. Dental hygienists need an associate or bachelor's degree.
Most dental hygiene associate programs take 2-3 years to complete. Dental hygienists also need state licensure, which requires candidates to pass written and clinical exams. Licensing requirements may vary by state. According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned an annual median salary of $76,220 in 2019. The BLS projects employment for dental hygienists to increase 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Mechanics maintain and repair cars and trucks by inspecting vehicles, testing for damage, and replacing parts. They also provide basic services and care. Tasks may include changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires.
Aspiring mechanics typically complete a vocational or trade program in automotive service and technology, which usually takes 6-12 months. Mechanics can specialize in a particular area, such as brakes, air conditioning, transmission, or diesel service. Many employers require automotive service technicians to hold certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and certified mechanics often earn higher salaries. According to the BLS, mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.
Paralegals assist lawyers by organizing files, conducting research, and drafting legal documents. They also help lawyers prepare for trials and corporate meetings. Most employers require paralegals to have an associate or a bachelor's degree in the field, which learners typically complete in 2-4 years.
Students can also obtain a certificate in paralegal studies, and voluntary certification can improve employment opportunities in the field. According to the BLS, paralegals earned a median annual salary of $51,740 in 2019. The BLS projects employment for paralegals to increase 12% between 2018 to 2028.
Radiology Technician Schools
Radiology technicians use X-ray machines and other radiologic technologies to capture images that help doctors diagnose health issues. These technicians can work in doctors' offices, hospitals, clinical research laboratories, diagnostic imaging centers, and outpatient care centers. Radiologic technologists can specialize in a subdiscipline such as mammography or magnetic resonance imaging.
Associate degrees in radiologic technology typically take 1-2 years to complete. To practice, graduates must pass a state certification exam. Radiology technicians maintain their credentials by completing continuing education courses every two years. According to the BLS, radiologic and MRI technologists earned an annual median salary of $62,280 in 2019. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 9% from 2018 to 2028.
Vocational Trade Schools in Kansas
These rankings include
#1 Vocational Trade Schools in Kansas
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, KS
- 2 years
- Online + Campus
Johnson County Community College lets learners choose from 43 associate programs and 54 certificate programs. From its Overland Park, Kansas, campus, the public institution lets attendees choose from online and on-campus enrollment options. Working students benefit from the flexible course options.
Most associate and certificate programs build specialized skills related to a defined career path or field of employment. Associate programs incorporate general education courses to build transferable skills, like critical thinking and writing. Certificate candidates complete a focused curriculum in their field with no general education requirements.
Certificate recipients can move directly into the workforce in entry-level positions. After earning an associate degree, graduates enter the workforce or transfer into a bachelor's program.
Johnson County Community College at a Glance:
Total Online Associate Programs: 3
Total Online Certificate Programs: 7
Undergrad Tuition In State: $2,880
Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $6,210
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Prospective trade school students can pursue various types of financial aid to help fund their education. Learners should begin by completing the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Additionally, many states and institutions use the information students provide on their FAFSA form to award scholarships and grants.
Trade school students can also apply for direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans from the federal government. Direct subsidized loans, which include deferred interest payments, are reserved for students who demonstrate financial need. The loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans depends on the student's tuition costs and other sources of financial aid.
Learners may also be eligible for federal work-study programs, which involve part-time employment in exchange for funding. Work-study programs often place students in positions related to their field of study.
Most trade and vocational programs are more affordable than four-year degrees. By pursuing scholarship opportunities, such as those below, trade school students can often reduce or eliminate the need for student loans.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
Vocational and trade school students can apply for a variety of scholarships to help offset the cost of professional training. Some scholarships are reserved for learners studying a particular trade, such as plumbing or carpentry, and some organizations award scholarships based on financial need or academic achievement. See below for five scholarships available to students at vocational schools in Kansas.
Coca-Cola Scholars Program
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports graduating college seniors who plan to pursue a degree at an accredited postsecondary institution in the United States. Applicants must
also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
PHCC Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association offers this scholarship to U.S. and Canadian citizens. Applicants must be enrolled in or plan to enroll in a
plumbing or HVACR apprenticeship program or a degree related to plumbing, heating, and cooling.
Amount: $1,500 to $5,000
Kansas Board of Regents Career Technical Workforce Grant
Who Can Apply: This grant is available to students enrolled in an eligible technical certificate or associate of applied science degree program in Kansas. Applicants must have graduated from a Kansas high school.
Amount: Up to $1,000
Horatio Alger Association Career & Technical Scholarships
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports U.S. citizens who demonstrate perseverance and financial need. Applicants must have graduated high school and plan to complete a career or technical program.
Amount: Up to $2,500
O'Brate Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to Kansas high school graduates who are pursuing a degree at an accredited technical school, community college, or university.
Applicants must demonstrate financial need and possess a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Amount: $500 to $5,000 annually