Why Choose Trade School?
Trade schools offer career-focused programs that prepare students for occupations in skilled trades like welding, electrical and electronics repair, plumbing, and HVAC. Trade school programs usually take fewer than two years to complete, with some lasting only a few months. Students graduate with workplace-ready skills, and many find a job in their chosen field immediately after completing their program. FIND PROGRAMS By Staff Writer Published on July 13, 2020
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Vocational school students are often high school graduates who want to enter the workforce as soon as possible. However, many professionals seeking a career change also enroll in trade schools, as do practitioners who want to refresh or add to their skills. The shorter programs available at most trade schools often allow students to continue working while enrolled.
Salary levels for trade school graduates vary depending on job location and industry. Some skilled trade workers earn significantly higher salaries than associate degree-holders. Completing a trade school program does not automatically mean settling for a low salary.
Use this guide to learn more about vocational schools in Louisiana. It contains information about accreditation, career and salary outlook for trade school graduates, and financial aid.
|What is the difference between a trade school and a college?||Trade schools offer skills-focused programs, many of which include practical training in specific occupations. Colleges offer general education courses in addition to major courses.|
|Can trade school credits transfer?||Two-year and four-year colleges sometimes accept transfer credits from accredited trade schools, but this often depends on the field of study and type of program.|
|What is the difference between trade school and techni al school?||Trade schools offer programs that focus on occupations requiring manual skills, including construction and auto mechanics. Technical schools tend to offer programs in fields like computer programming or network administration.|
|How much does a trade school cost?||The average cost of trade schools amounts to $33,000 for an entire program, which is roughly the equivalent of one year of tuition at a four-year college.|
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Accreditation indicates the quality of a school's academic programs. Institutional and specialized accrediting agencies conduct the process under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Nonprofit degree-granting private and public institutions seek regional accreditation. Trade and vocational schools, including sectarian institutions, usually seek national accreditation. Specialized accreditation refers to the evaluation of specific programs rather than entire institutions.
Southern states, including Louisiana, fall under the accrediting jurisdiction of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The ED and CHEA recognize the Distance Education Accrediting Commission as the main accreditor for off-campus learning, which includes online schools and programs. In trade and vocational education, the ED recognizes the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges as the main accrediting body.
States require all schools to obtain a license before they can accept students. A license simply means a school meets the basic requirements to operate. It is not the same as accreditation, which refers to the quality of the educational programs offered by a school.
Vocational Trade Schools in Louisiana
The following list includes vocational schools in Louisiana that offer accredited programs, in-demand programs, and scholarship opportunities.
Located in Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College offers more than 50 programs and graduates over 10,000 students each year. SLCC offers various programs, including technical diplomas and associate degrees. Learners interested in trade school can choose from dozens of associate degrees and vocational certificates.
Popular vocational school programs that lead to local jobs include commercial diving, nursing, and industrial marine electronics technology. These programs also lead to licensure and certification. For example, commercial diving students earn a certificate of technical studies in commercial diving, along with six industry certifications required for most careers. SLCC also offers a power lineman apprenticeship that requires 16-25 hours per week. This apprenticeship leads to high-paying careers in line working.
SLCC keeps both in-person and online class sizes small to extend one-on-one education from experienced professionals to students. The community college also offers more affordable
Founded in 1940, Sowela Technical Community College educates students in the Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes. SOWELA experienced steady growth over the decades as graduates found well-paying positions in the region, eventually elevating the school from a technical institute to a technical community college.
SOWELA primarily offers vocational associate degrees, though students can also choose from seven vocational certificate programs. The degrees and programs prepare graduates to enter the job market. Most programs take 1-2 semesters to complete, including the technical community college's various apprenticeships. Apprenticeship options include plumbing, pipefitting, and electrical construction.
Graduates typically find work locally, and SOWELA's programs reflect local needs. Students who plan on eventually earning a bachelor's degree usually enroll in one of SOWELA's LA transfer degree programs, though most associate degrees can lead to a bachelor's degree.
Delgado Community College, located in New Orleans, is among the region's most comprehensive community colleges. With programs available both on campus and online, Delgado reaches students across Louisiana.
The community college offers vocational associate degrees and certificates in 12 different divisions, with most divisions consisting of many tracks. For example, learners interested in studying allied health choose from 19 certificate options, each of which leads to a specific healthcare career. Other popular areas include business and technology, nursing, and the technical division which consists of trades like cosmetology, welding, and industrial maintenance technology. Students receive an associate degree, technical diploma, or one of many certificate types.
Delgado offers a unique hospitality apprenticeship program. Students interested in hospitality can take advantage of Delgado's New Orleans location and gain experience in the lodging and restaurant industries.
Created to help young learners gain workforce training or prepare to transfer into a four-year institution, Northshore Technical Community College offers an array of technical degrees and certificates. Like other trade schools in Louisiana, Northshore Technical Community College stays current on regional workforce needs, helping learners focus on growing and in-demand fields.
The community college offers several programs, many of which students cannot find at other vocational schools in Louisiana. For example, Northshore Technical Community College's air conditioning and refrigeration program, offered at the Hammond, Lacombe, and Sullivan campuses, teaches valuable skills not easily learned elsewhere. Other programs that lead to high-growth positions include practical nursing, electric line technology, and maritime technology.
Learners interested in becoming electricians or pipe trade professionals can take advantage of the community college's apprenticeships. These short courses also lead to community college credit hours.
Located in Chalmette, Nunez Community College began in 1992. However, Nunez experienced significant growth after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leading to the construction of a brand-new welding, HVAC, and electrical facility set to open in the near future.
Combining Louisiana transfer degrees and technical programs, Nunez offers a robust academic selection. Some programs teach skills not offered at other vocational schools, such as the aerospace manufacturing technology program that leads to a career as an aerospace manufacturing technician. Other programs, such as welding, paralegal studies, and electrical construction, aptly prepare students for a local career. Nunez is an open enrollment community college, meaning applicants do not submit GPA or test score information.
In conjunction with Delgado Community College and Northshore Technical Community College, Nunez offers a mechatronics apprenticeship training program. This two-year apprenticeship prepares learners for a career in advanced manufacturing technology with Louisiana businesses.
Located in Bossier City, Bossier Parish Community College strives to offer accessible and worthwhile programs to students interested in starting new careers. The community college's close connection with local businesses also helps invigorate the local economy with well-educated graduates ready to work.
BPCC learners choose from dozens of associate degrees and vocational certificates, though most students study in one of three areas: science, nursing, and allied health; technology, engineering, and mathematics; and communication and performing arts. The communication and performing arts area lets local students express their creativity while preparing for a high-growth position. Popular programs include graphic design, audio technology, and video editing. While BPCC pays special attention to performing arts and communications, many students choose to pursue engineering, math, and technology.
In addition to BPCC's various vocational programs, the community college offers an apprenticeship in industrial maintenance and electrical tech, both of which lead to Louisiana certifications.
An open admissions institution that does not require GPA or test scores, Louisiana Delta Community College offers high school graduates various associate degree and technical certification options. Based primarily in Monroe, LDCC extends to seven additional locations across northeast Louisiana, although the school does not offer any courses online.
Learners interested in an associate degree choose from five different schools at LDCC, and vocational students select from industrial technology, nursing and allied health, natural sciences and math, or business and technology. Programs take anywhere from two years to just one semester. For example, learners interested in business and technology can choose from a one-semester medical coding specialist certificate to a two-year associate degree in computer science. Regardless of how long learners study, they graduate ready to begin a career in a new field. If the main career outcome requires certification, such as registered nurse licensure for the registered nurse program, LDCC ensures students meet professional requirements.
Based in Baton Rouge but with locations across the state, Louisiana State University at Eunice reaches thousands of learners each year. As a university that only offers two-year degrees, LSUE dedicates all its resources to helping students learn valuable skills required in today's workplaces. Students who cannot attend LSUE's courses on campus enroll in online courses or programs, many of which prepare graduates to easily transfer into four-year universities.
LSUE primarily focuses on transferable degrees, but many of the over 100 programs lead directly to positions. Some of the two-year vocational degrees also allow for specialization. For example, the fire and emergency services associate degree lets students concentrate in emergency services technology, fire services technology, or safety and health compliance. Vocational programs that allow students to specialize could increase graduates' chances of finding a position within their desired field or business. Other popular areas of study include radiologic tech, chemical tech, and surgical tech.
Created in 1994 in an effort to dismantle remnants of the dual-race system and desegregate schools, Baton Rouge Community College opened its doors in 1998 to 700 students. Today, BRCC teaches nearly 10,000 students of all backgrounds. The community college's relatively young age allowed it to develop programs fit for the modern era.
BRCC students choose from various associate degrees, technical diplomas, and technical certificates, each of which leads to important regional positions. However, many of BRCC's programs fit modern positions, such as the drafting and design technology program available as a one-year certificate or a five-semester associate degree. Many programs also set multiple exit dates so learners can complete a specific level of desired education.
BRCC applicants need a 2.0 high school GPA or GED equivalent, and most programs require learners to maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Founded in 1998, River Parishes Community College moved to its current location in Gonzales in 2014. As one of the original community colleges in Louisiana, RPCC's short history includes the education of thousands of local students, helping them secure positions in technical fields or prepare for a four-year degree. One unique advantage of attending RPCC is the school's proximity to many of Louisiana's main manufacturers, many of which constantly require skilled workers.
RPCC offers 17 programs, consisting of two-year associate degrees, two-year associate transfer degrees, and shorter certificates. The length of the certificate programs varies depending on the materials and Louisiana's professional requirements. For example, the certificate in medical assisting requires a 180-hour externship and three semesters of part-time study while the electric helper certificate takes just two semesters to complete. Students in each program must maintain a "C" average.
Created in 1948 to provide vocational training to people in the Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption, St. James, and St. Charles parishes, Fletcher Technical Community College eventually grew to offer both on-campus and off-campus education. Over time, the community college also began introducing educational programs for current professionals who want to learn new skills and advance their careers.
Fletcher offers a variety of associate and vocational programs, such as cardiopulmonary care science and marine diesel engine tech. Some programs also allow for specializations. For example, the technical studies program lets learners concentrate in manufacturing, transportation, or construction services. Most vocational programs at Fletcher take 2-3 semesters to complete, and most associate degrees take two years.
Vocational and associate program applicants must submit ACT scores, a high school transcript or GED, and information on transfer credits. Fletcher Technical Community College organizes multiple payment plans for students to increase affordability.
Serving learners primarily in Minden, Northwest Louisiana Technical College also teaches in Mansfield and Shreveport, though students must attend courses at one of those three campuses. The technical college strives to train valuable regional workers and prepare learners for continued education.
NLTCC offers dozens of programs, though program availability depends on the campus. For example, while all three campuses offer a technical diploma and certificate of technical studies in welding, only the Shreveport campus includes an automotive technology program. Regardless of which campus students select, NLTCC holds all programs to the same academic standards. Most technical programs take 2-3 semesters to complete. All vocational programs include required lab hours, giving students hands-on experience.
As an open admissions college, NLTCC does not require standardized test scores or a minimum GPA. Some current high school students may enroll in NLTCC's programs.
While technically a four-year university, LSU of Alexandria also offers technical and vocational programs. Nearly half of the program's 3,200 students study part time, and many part-time students continue working while completing courses. To make its programs even more accessible, LSUA also offers its associate degrees, many micro programs, and several bootcamps online.
Most LSUA students interested in learning a trade complete an associate degree in arts, science, or general studies. Through elective courses, learners then specialize their associate degree in a field like paralegal studies, criminal justice, or industrial security. These entirely online programs require 60 credits and take two years to complete. LSUA also charges the same per-credit
To apply, students either earn a 20 on the ACT or graduate high school with a 2.0 GPA. The online associate degrees prepare learners for jobs, but easily transfer to other LSU four-year programs.
As the only community college in Louisiana that is also a Historically Black Community or University, Southern University at Shreveport promises a diverse, open student body. Many of SUSLA's students study part time, though both the part-time and full-time student populations continue to grow with the community college.
SUSLA primarily offers associate degrees, though the community college also offers nine technical certificates, three applied science certificates, and one technical diploma. The associate degrees and technical diploma generally take two years to complete, and the certificates take as little as two semesters. Students complete their courses at one of three campuses across Shreveport or through the online school.
Learners can specialize their education at SUSLA. For example, the Division of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics offers a computer science associate degree with a specialization in either business or science. This allows students to learn required skills for specific positions.
Created in 1923 by Franciscan missionaries, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University opened in downtown Baton Rouge and played an important role in delivering local healthcare. Despite being a private, four-year institution, FranU continues to educate local workers and support the region.
Keeping in line with its background, FranU offers two associate degrees in healthcare: the physical therapist assistant and radiological technology programs. These two-year programs allow for some online study, though students must plan on attending onsite courses. FranU requires applicants to hold a 2.0 GPA and maintain a minimum "C" grade on prerequisite courses.
The university also offers four certificates: phlebotomy, applied behavior analysis, Catholic theology and catechesis, and registered behavior technician training. These programs vary in length, ranging from 40 hours to one semester. Students complete the entire registered behavior technician training program online.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2019 median annual salary for all occupations was $39,810. Several trade school occupations earned higher salaries, including line installers and repairers ($65,700), construction and building inspectors ($60,710), and aircraft and avionics equipment managers and technicians ($64,310).
Additionally, some vocational school careers bring in higher salaries than jobs requiring a two-year associate degree. For example, electrical and electronics repairers earn a median annual salary of $78,410, which is higher than the median annual wage of a diagnostic medical sonographer ($71,410). The BLS also projects excellent growth potential for jobs in HVAC, construction, and plumbing.
Job location also impacts salary levels. Louisiana ranks fourth among states that hire the greatest number of workers with a postsecondary non-degree education (129,370).
Career prospects and salary expectations for several trade school occupations remain positive. The list below includes some common vocational school programs available today from accredited trade schools across the country.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the most popular trade school programs are healthcare, business and marketing, and consumer services. The vocational programs listed below represent some of the most popular fields among trade school students today.
Dental hygienist programs usually take at least two years to complete. Graduates must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as part of the licensure process before they can practice. Only students who graduated from an accredited school can sit for the exam. The Commission on Dental Accreditation acts as the sole accrediting body for dental hygiene schools.
Dental hygienist schools offer career-driven coursework and include significant training in the field. Many schools require students to complete an internship or a job shadow experience.
According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of $76,220 in 2019 and benefit from an 11% projected job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
Most trade schools offer 12-month mechanic certificate programs that include significant practical training. Trade unions and large companies also offer mechanic apprenticeships, which can last up to three years. Apprenticeships are paid positions. They take longer to complete, but students earn while they learn. Although states do not require mechanics to be licensed or certified, many mechanic school graduates sit for one or more of the tests administered by the National Automotive Education Foundation. Successful test-takers earn the Automotive Service Excellence certification. The exam requires candidates to have at least two years of professional experience as a mechanic or significant on-the-job training as part of an accredited mechanic program. According to the BLS, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.
Most trade schools offer 12-month mechanic certificate programs that include significant practical training. Trade unions and large companies also offer mechanic apprenticeships, which can last up to three years. Apprenticeships are paid positions. They take longer to complete, but students earn while they learn.
Although states do not require mechanics to be licensed or certified, many mechanic school graduates sit for one or more of the tests administered by the National Automotive Education Foundation. Successful test-takers earn the Automotive Service Excellence certification. The exam requires candidates to have at least two years of professional experience as a mechanic or significant on-the-job training as part of an accredited mechanic program.
According to the BLS, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.
Paralegal certificate programs offered at vocational schools typically consist of 18-30 credits and usually take 12 months. These programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions in law. The curriculum includes foundation courses in administrative law, legal research, contracts, and legal terminology.
According to the BLS, paralegals earned a median annual salary of $51,740 in 2019 with a 12% projected job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
The legal arena is moving toward requiring new hires to have at least an associate degree in the field. As such, accredited vocational schools have begun offering courses that can transfer more readily to two-year paralegal programs in community colleges.
Many radiology technicians work in general medical and surgical hospitals. However, they can also find employment in outpatient care centers, doctors' offices, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.
Many employers prefer to hire radiology technicians who have completed an accredited two-year program. Some trade schools offer two-year radiology technology programs, but these programs are more common at community colleges.
According to the BLS, radiologic technicians earned a median annual salary of $62,280 in 2019 with a 9% projected growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
For many students, the search for financial aid begins by completing the FAFSA. Most postsecondary institutions use FAFSA information to determine a student's eligibility for financial aid. Private organizations and professional associations that administer scholarship and grant programs also rely on the FAFSA.
Trade school students with financial need may qualify for the Pell Grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Students do not have to repay any amount received from these two programs.
Students who need loans should explore federal student loan programs before private lenders. Federal student loans often maintain lower interest rates, and payment can be deferred under specific circumstances.
Although a private lender, Sallie Mae administers the Career Training Smart Option Loans that is especially set up for vocational school students. The program offers competitive interest rates.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance maintains several student aid programs earmarked specifically for vocational school students. In addition, the state participates in federal grant programs that allocate funding for trade school learners.
Read on to learn more about scholarships for Louisiana's trade school students.
Who Can Apply: Students accepted to a welding training program at an accredited community college or vocational school can apply for this scholarship. Students must submit their
application through the local chapter of the American Welding Society.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in a construction management, engineering, or related program at a two-year or four-year school that offers courses in asphalt
Who Can Apply: The program accepts applications from students enrolled in a plumbing and heating/cooling program at an accredited trade school. Apprentices and plumbing
professionals can also apply.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be recipients of the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program and obtain the approval of the Department of Children and Family Services
Amount: Covers tuition, plus $300 for books and fees
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Louisiana residents who are high school graduates with a minimum 2.5 GPA who plan to pursue a trade or vocational school program.