Trade and vocational schools provide career training in areas like healthcare, technology, and the skilled trades. In the healthcare field, trade school graduates may work as medical assistants, health information technicians, dental hygienists, and occupational therapy assistants. Vocational programs also train graduates for careers as electricians, HVAC technicians, paralegals, and paramedics.
During a vocational program, students take career-focused coursework in their field. Programs also incorporate experiential training through practicum, lab, and clinical requirements. For example, pharmacy technicians and ultrasound technicians complete clinical requirements to gain hands-on experience.
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Vocational schools offer several benefits over four-year academic programs. Because a vocational certificate or degree generally takes 1-2 years to complete, graduates can enter the workforce faster than graduates of four-year programs. Additionally, professionals with an occupational credential benefit from a higher employment rate than those with an academic credential, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Many trade schools offer self-paced or accelerated programs that appeal to busy students. Learners seeking greater flexibility can also choose an online vocational program.
This page introduces the top-ranked trade and vocational schools in Kentucky. It also provides career and salary information for trade school occupations, introduces common vocational programs, and lists scholarship opportunities for trade school students.
Can I go to trade school online?
Yes. Many schools offer vocational programs online. During these programs, students complete courses online while meeting any experiential learning requirements at a local site.
Do trade school scholarships exist?
Yes. Trade school students may qualify for many scholarship opportunities, including scholarships and grants from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.
Can trade school credits transfer?
Yes. Credits earned from a trade school may transfer to other schools, but many institutions require transfer credits from regionally accredited schools.
When can I apply to trade school?
Many trade schools admit new students on a rolling basis, meaning students can apply at any time throughout the year. Many programs also offer multiple start dates each year.
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Prospective trade school students should always check a school’s accreditation and licensing status before applying. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students. To earn accreditation, schools voluntarily undergo a rigorous review from an independent accrediting agency. During the review, the agency evaluates the school’s academic mission, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications. Accredited schools must regularly undergo reviews to maintain their status. Students can learn more about the accreditation process here.
Accreditation benefits students in important ways. For example, 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.
Kentucky vocational and trade schools offer programs in healthcare, the skilled trades, and other in-demand fields. By choosing a top-ranked vocational program, students can advance their career and increase their earning potential. Our list ranks the best vocational schools in Kentucky to help prospective students find the best fit to reach their career goals.
Comprising four campuses, BSCTC offers over 25 academic and technical programs andenrolls approximately 4,700 studentseach semester. The college also provides non-credit classes, workforce training, and other community education programs. BSCTC belongs to the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
BSCTC offers more than 1,100 online courses. Students can complete a degree or occupational certificate entirely or mostly online. The college offers associate and technical programs in diverse fields including medical information technology, dental assisting, and criminal justice.
Like many trade schools in Kentucky, BSCTC takes part in Work Ready Kentucky to offer apprenticeship opportunities. The program maintains apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing, construction, business/IT, logistics, and healthcare. Work Ready Kentucky offers scholarships that cover up to 60 credits of tuition at participating Kentucky institutions. Eligible applicants hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent and enroll in at least six credits.
Established in 1968, Madisonville Community College serves a seven-county district from its three campuses. MCC enrolls an average of 2,700 students each semester and offers associate, certificate, or diploma programs in fields such as advanced integrated manufacturing, biomedical technology systems, and respiratory care.
Students access career and job placement services, academic counseling, tutoring, and transfer assistance. MCC offers the lowest community college tuition in the Bluegrass State. The school also administers several scholarship and grant programs, and many students participate in work-study options to help pay for their education.
Like many Kentucky technical colleges, MCC further supports its students by participating in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities to qualified students. Eligible applicants enroll for at least six credits at a participating college and do not hold a bachelor's or associate degree at the time of application. Work Ready Kentucky maintains apprenticeship programs in fields like healthcare, business and information technology, and construction.
ACTC opened in 1938 and currently enrolls close to 2,600 students each semester. The college offers associate, certificate, and diploma programs across three campuses. Students enroll in associate programs to transfer to four-year institutions or earn an occupational credential that qualifies them for employment after graduation. ACTC also offers adult education classes, workforce training, and other non-credit community programs.
ACTC offers a myriad of services including tutoring, disability assistance, academic counseling, and scholarship opportunities. The Career Center provides assistance with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing tips, and job search skills, as well as information on internships and work-study options.
Work Ready Kentucky provides apprenticeship opportunities for students enrolled in at least six credits at technical schools in Kentucky. The program seeks to increase the number of career-ready graduates in the state to meet the growing need for workers in specific professional arenas such as business, advanced manufacturing, and construction.
The consolidation of two community and technical colleges in 2004 resulted in the creation of ECTC. Students enroll in associate degrees for transfer to four-year institutions or complete an occupational credential for immediate workforce entry. ECTC also offers community development programs, free adult education classes, and professional development certificates.
The Student Service Center provides several supportive services including group or individual tutoring sessions, academic and career counseling, testing and placement services, and financial assistance programs. The center also provides information on internships and work-study opportunities, as well as career counseling and job search resources.
Like many vocational schools in Kentucky, ECTC provides apprenticeship opportunities for students through Work Ready Kentucky. The program offers apprenticeships in fields like advanced manufacturing, business and IT, and logistics. Students who qualify to participate in Work Ready Kentucky receive free tuition for up to 60 credits. Eligible applicants enroll in at least six credits at a participating school at the time of their application.
Part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College system, Somerset Community College serves close to 6,000 students each year. The college offers associate and certificate programs in over 40 areas of study including nursing, business administration, and early childhood education.
SCC conducts student workshops that help participants improve their study, research, and academic writing skills. Other student support services include academic and career counseling, online or onsite tutoring sessions, and job search and application assistance.
SCC participates in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities for students throughout the state. The program offers paid training positions for students who plan to pursue careers in healthcare, logistics, or business and information technology, among other fields. Eligible applicants enroll in at least six credits at a participating school. Participants receive free tuition up to 60 credits during their enrollment.
Founded in 1965,Hopkinsville Community Collegecurrently serves approximately 3,800 students annually. Students enroll in associate degrees for transfer to four-year institutions or pursue a certificate program in over 20 academic and occupational arenas. HCC serves the larger community by offering a variety of non-credit personal enrichment programs, professional certifications, and free adult education classes.
The Accessibility Services Office works with students with disabilities to ensure access to educational opportunities at HCC. Other student support services include academic counseling, tutoring, career exploration, and transfer advisement. HCC regularly hosts free workshops for students to help them improve their academic and resume writing, research, and job interviewing skills.
HCC offers apprenticeship opportunities through Work Ready Kentucky in fields such as healthcare, business, and construction. Work Ready Kentucky requires applicants to hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent and enroll in at least six credits at a participating school.
Henderson Community College began in 1960 as the University of Kentucky Northwest Center. HCC joined the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in 1964 and currently serves a student population of 2,200. The college offers associate and certificate programs in 16 areas of study including agricultural technology, nursing, and computerized manufacturing and machining.
The HCC campus includes the Preston Arts Center, a 980-seat auditorium with several gallery spaces available for college and community use. The center regularly hosts local and national events, arts presentations, and cultural performances.
HCC recently launched a new apprenticeship program called Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, or FAME. Students in the program earn an associate in applied science degree over the course of five semesters. FAME participants receive paid training, attend classes two days per week, and work three days per week. The program follows a cohort model of education.
Maysville Community and Technical Collegestarted in 1968 and offers associate, certificate, and diploma programs in more than 25 areas of study. Students pursue a program in fields like advanced integrated technology, early childhood education, or horticulture. MCTC also offers non-credit educational programs that serve working students, mid-career professionals, and other members of the larger community.
Student services include academic and career counseling, individual or group tutoring sessions, and transfer resources. MCTC regularly holds virtual and onsite workshops that help students improve their research, test-taking, and academic writing skills.
As part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, MCTC participates in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities for qualified students. Work Ready Kentucky currently offers apprenticeships in five areas: advanced manufacturing, construction and trades, healthcare, logistics, and information technology and business.
BCTC resulted from the 2005 consolidation of Lexington Community College and Central Kentucky Technical College. The college maintains an average annual enrollment of 11,500 students. Students pursue an associate degree for transfer to a four-year institution, complete an occupational certificate for immediate workforce entry, or enroll in professional development courses. The college also maintains several community-based educational programs for local business owners and working students.
Resources at BCTC include tutoring services, resume and cover letter assistance, and job search strategies. The Heart of BCTC program provides food assistance and career attire for students.
In 2006, BCTC started an equine program with the North American Racing Academy. The program provides extensive practical training and classroom instruction for students who wish to pursue a career in the horse racing industry. The equine program offers courses for professional jockeys, breeding farm managers, horse trainers, and licensed grooms.
In 2003, Owensboro Community College merged with Owensboro Trade School to form Owensboro Community and Technical College. OCTC offers associate degrees for transfer and occupational certificate programs in diverse fields of study including surgical technology, criminal justice, nursing, and emergency medical services. The college also offers continuing and adult education programs, as well as workforce training.
The Teaching and Learning Center provides various student support resources including tutoring services, academic counseling, and transfer assistance. Career counselors at BCTC help students develop their resumes and provide information on internship opportunities and job openings.
BCTC currently offers apprenticeship programs in four occupational arenas: advanced manufacturing technology, multi-craft manufacturing technology, non-manufacturing business careers, and journeyman electrical work. Although each program maintains specific requirements for admission and completion, apprentices generally divide their time between classroom instruction and on-the-job paid training.
WKCTC enrolls an average of 6,250 every year. WKCTC offers associate and certificate programs in various fields of study including diagnostic medical sonography, interdisciplinary early childhood education, and mechatronics systems.
The Arts in Focus Program at WKCTC features local and national performing artists. WKCTC students, faculty, and employees enjoy these performances.
WKCTC offers an associate in applied science in apprenticeship studies. Students pursue an apprenticeship in electrical, plumbing, or welding. WKCTC continues to cultivate partnerships with local businesses and trade unions to increase the program's areas of focus. The program comprises 60 credits with 42-45 apprenticeship credits.
Gateway enrolls about 4,000 students annually and offers more than 200 transfer, occupational, and workforce training programs across 30 fields of study. Students pursue a program in one of many diverse fields including human services, medical assisting, and early childhood education. The college serves a five-county district and offers several non-credit business and professional development programs.
Students access an array of academic support services including tutoring, course and major selection, and transfer requirements. Gateway also provides resume and cover letter assistance, accommodation services for students with disabilities, and technical support for online enrollees.
Gateway participates in the North Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education. The program provides apprenticeships for students who plan to pursue a career in advanced manufacturing technology after graduation. The college also provides apprenticeship opportunities in mechatronics technology, deckhand engineering, and transit rail vehicle maintenance. Gateway continually works with local businesses and trade unions to offer more apprenticeship programs to students.
Jefferson Community College and Jefferson Technical College merged to form JCTC. JCTC currently enrolls close to 12,000 students each year and serves an 11-county district. Students pursue an associate degree, diploma, or certificate in one of many diverse fields of study, including insurance and risk management, emergency medical studies, and nursing.
Academic and career support services for JCTC students include group and individual tutoring sessions, course and major selection advice, and internship and job search resources. The HUB provides non-academic support by addressing food insecurity issues and connecting students to community and on-campus resources.
JCTC offers an associate in applied science in apprenticeship technology in three occupational areas: cabinet/millwork, carpentry, and millwork. The college also participates in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities in logistics, construction, business and information technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.
Hazard Community and Technical College began in 1968 and currently serves an eight-county district. HCTC enrolls an average of 3200 students and offers more than 200 associate and certificate programs. Students pursue a program in fields like diagnostic medical sonography, Appalachian studies, or visual communication. HCTC also offers community-based educational programs including workforce development, ESL classes, and personal enrichment courses.
Students access academic support services such as group or one-on-one tutoring sessions and online technical support. Career services include job placement resources, resume and interviewing assistance, and internship opportunities.
HCTC participates in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities for qualified students. Students receive free tuition for up to two years and graduate with an associate or occupational credential, depending on the apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships currently include five occupational fields: advanced manufacturing, business, construction, healthcare, and logistics.
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College
Established in 1960, SKCTC currently enrolls over 5,000 students and serves three Kentucky counties as well as nearby counties in Virginia and Tennessee. The college offers more than 50 associate and certificate programs in diverse areas of study including radiography, social media marketing, surgical technology, and nursing. SKCTC also offers adult education classes, professional development courses, and other community-based programs.
Career counselors at SKCTC assist students with resume writing, practice interviews, and effective job search methods. Students access academic resources as well, including tutoring services, course selection, transfer requirements, and testing and placement assistance. SKCTC provides a variety of accommodation services for students with learning and physical disabilities.
Work Ready Kentucky provides apprenticeship opportunities to resident students including SKCTC enrollees. Participating businesses and unions cover up to two years of tuition for each student accepted to the program. Work Ready Kentucky offers apprenticeships in fields such as construction, logistics, healthcare, and information technology.
Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College
Established in 1939, SKYCTC began as a training facility operated by the National Youth Administration. Today, the college serves a 10-county district, maintains four campuses, and offers associate, diploma, and certificate programs in diverse areas of study. Students earn a degree or occupational credential in fields such as computerized manufacturing and machining, culinary arts, business studies, and fire and rescue technology.
SKYCTC regularly conducts career workshops to assist students in their job search, to help them develop interviewing skills, and to guide them in their career choice. Academic counselors provide class and major selection assistance and transfer guidelines. The college also offers support and accommodation services for veterans, military personnel, and students with disabilities.
SKYCTC participates in Work Ready Kentucky, a program that provides apprenticeship opportunities for qualified Kentucky students. Applicants enroll in at least six credits at a participating institution. Work Ready Kentucky offers apprenticeships in logistics, healthcare, and construction, among other fields.
Starting out in 1906 as a teaching college, Western Kentucky University enrolled almost 16,000 undergraduate students in 2019. WKU comprises five academic colleges and offers over 200 associate degree, bachelor's degree, and vocational certificate programs across diverse fields of study.
Students pursue an associate degree in one of four disciplines: agriculture technology and management, business, dental hygiene, or interdisciplinary studies. WKU currently offers vocational certificates in 16 occupational arenas including health informatics, long-term care administration, applied data analytics, and land surveying. WKU offers several certificate programs completely or partially online.
The Counseling Center provides academic, personal, and crisis counseling services to on-campus and online enrollees. Students access academic support services such as peer tutoring sessions, career exploration and planning, internship opportunities, and course selection. The Preston Center at WKU offers several health and wellness programs, fitness services, and sports activities for students and faculty.
Northern Kentucky University began as a state college in 1968. Today, the university occupies a 430-acre campus in Highland Heights, enrolls over 14,000 students, and offers certificate, associate, bachelor's, and graduate programs across six academic disciplines.
NKU offers associate programs in criminal justice and integrative studies, as well as certificate programs in several occupational fields including business informatics, cybersecurity, geographic information systems, and medical billing and coding.
The College of Informatics gives qualified computer science and information technology students the chance to participate in an apprenticeship program through the Center for Applied Informatics. The program gives students hands-on experience in website and mobile app design. The center pairs students with local businesses and organizations.
The College for Technical Education began in 1997 as the Center for Training and Employment. CTE currently offers certificate programs in six occupational areas: building trades technology, cosmetology, cosmetology instructor apprentice, early childhood education, medical assisting, and medical billing and coding.
CTE's accreditation makes students eligible to receive financial assistance from any federal student aid program for which they qualify. On average, 95% of CTE students receive Pell Grant assistance every year.
The college maintains a partnership with Bluegrass Career Services to provide students with career readiness training. Students access career planning services, resume writing and job application assistance, and skills development programs. CTE boasts 100% job placement for graduates of the early childhood education and cosmetology instructor apprentice programs for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Founded in 1906 as Russell Creek Academy, Campbellsville University currently enrolls more than 12,000 students and offers over 80 majors and certificate programs across seven academic disciplines. Students pursue an associate degree in one of eight fields including business information technology, medical assisting, criminal justice, and early childhood education. The university also offers occupational credentials in fields such as cosmetology, pharmacy technology, and welding.
Students access various career services including career assessment and exploration, job search workshops, and interviewing assistance. The university hosts job fairs and other career-focused events to help students build their professional network even before they graduate.
Student services also include personal and mental health counseling, academic advisement, and physical health and wellness services. In keeping with its original mandate as a Christian institution, Campbellsville University offers national and international mission trips, campus ministry resources, and various community outreach programs.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Trade school graduates can work in roles such as medical assistant, occupational therapy assistant, construction worker, and plumber. Because trade schools in Kentucky prepare graduates for so many different careers, the career and salary outlook for trade school graduates varies widely. Overall, many vocational occupations offer above-average salaries and strong job growth potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), trade school occupations pay an average salary of around $55,000 per year. Professionals in personal care and service occupations make around $33,000 per year, while management occupations pay an average of $96,000 per year. Healthcare practitioners earn $55,000 per year, on average, and installation, maintenance, and repair professionals earn around $50,000 per year.
Prospective trade school students in Kentucky can research Kentucky wage data to learn more about the earning potential in specific fields. For example, Kentucky occupational therapy assistants make around $60,000 per year, on average, while dental hygienists earn $61,000 per year.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Trade and vocational schools in Kentucky offer certificates and degrees in many high-demand fields. Graduates can pursue careers in areas like healthcare, the skilled trades, technology, and legal services.
This section introduces some common trade school programs in Kentucky. In addition to these programs, prospective students can research other vocational programs in the state.
Electricians install electrical systems in homes, businesses, and other buildings. They read technical diagrams, inspect electrical components, and identify electrical problems. Electricians
must follow building regulations and codes.
Many electricians attend technical school, where they take courses in electrical theory, blueprint reading, and safety practices. Electricians can also pursue professional certifications in
areas like lighting systems or electrical safety compliance. BLS data reports faster-than-average job growth projections for electricians between 2018 and 2028. In 2019, these professionals earned a median annual salary of
Mechanics, also known as automotive service technicians, maintain and repair cars and trucks. They use diagnostic equipment to identify problems, repair any worn or broken parts, and perform
maintenance to keep vehicles running smoothly.
Trade and tech schools in Kentucky train mechanics in automotive technology programs. During a certificate or degree in automotive technology, students take courses in engine repair, brake
maintenance, and electronic systems. In addition to coursework, students complete hands-on practice to build their skills.
Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop and improve their daily living skills under the supervision of an occupational therapist. They may help patients complete therapeutic
exercises, teach patients to use special equipment, and report patients’ progress to occupational therapists
Occupational therapy assistants typically need an associate degree. During an occupational therapy assistant program, students take courses on topics like rehabilitative therapy, anatomy, and
physiology. Students also complete fieldwork to gain hands-on experience under a supervised occupational therapist.
Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies and hospitals where they dispense prescription medication under the supervision of a pharmacist. They collect information from customers and health
professionals to fill prescriptions, measure and package medication, and oversee pharmacy inventory.
Many pharmacy technicians complete a certificate or degree in pharmacy technology. During a pharmacy technology program, students take courses on topics like pharmacy law, medication
terminology, and ethics. Programs often incorporate clinical experiences to provide hands-on training. Pharmacy technicians
earned a median annual salary of nearly $34,000 in 2019 and enjoy faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.
In many states, pharmacy technicians must hold a license. The Kentucky Board of Pharmacy licenses
pharmacy technicians in Kentucky.
Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, create images of patients’ organs and tissues using medical imaging machines. They maintain diagnostic imaging equipment,
operate the equipment to create images, and analyze diagnostic images to summarize findings for physicians.
Vocational schools in Kentucky train ultrasound technicians through certificate and associate degree programs. During these programs, students take courses on topics like medical terminology,
ultrasound technology, and anatomy. Learners also complete clinical requirements to build their skills. Diagnostic medical sonographers
earned a median annual salary of over $68,000 in 2019 and enjoy much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.
In Kentucky, students who choose a vocational program often save money compared to students enrolled in four-year academic programs. Kentucky’s public, four-year universities charge an average of over $10,000 per year in tuition and fees, while private universities charge over $26,000 per year. Meanwhile, Kentucky community colleges cost around $4,000 per year, on average.
In addition to choosing an affordable vocational program, students can lower the cost of their education through financial aid. Trade school students attending accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid. To determine their eligibility for federal aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year.
Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them one of the best forms of financial aid. The next section lists scholarship opportunities for students at trade schools in Kentucky.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority administers several grant and scholarship programs for students attending trade and vocational schools in Kentucky.
Kentucky College Access Program Grant
Who Can Apply: Kentucky residents who demonstrate financial need qualify for this grant. Recipients must be attending an eligible school. Amount: Up to $2,000
Who Can Apply: The Blue Grass Community Foundation offers multiple scholarships for Kentucky students each year, including students attending trade and vocational schools.
Eligibility requirements vary by scholarship. Amount: Varies
Who Can Apply: Kentucky residents with financial need can apply for this grant. Recipients must enroll full time in an associate or bachelor’s program at a private school
in Kentucky. Amount: Up to $3,000
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports women in STEM-related fields, including students at two-year technical programs. The committee prefers applicants who demonstrate an
interest in the automobile and mobility industry. Amount: $1,000-$5,000
Comprehensive website that features regional economic information, statistics about area businesses, and a section dedicated to workforce solutions with resources for both job-seekers and employers.
Kentucky Career Center
Job search database for Kentucky residents. Includes resources for exploring careers and education opportunities.
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Statewide agency that advocates for postsecondary and adult education programs, monitors and approves programs at public institutions, and reviews performance metrics.
Kentucky Community and Technical College System
Sixteen colleges and more than 70 campuses make up the state’s community and technical college system.
Kentucky Department of Education: Career and Technical Education
Provides information about educational programs, CTE professional organizations, and student organizations for those enrolled in a CTE program. Includes resources and tools for prospective
students and job-seekers.
Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2022
A comprehensive report compiled by Kentucky’s Workforce Intelligence Branch, profiling some 150 careers to offer information on employment opportunities and growth.
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