Best Vocational Trade Schools in Michigan

ASO Staff Writers
Updated March 27, 2024
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Why Choose Trade School?

Vocational schools in Michigan serve thousands of students each year who are seeking a career-focused education. As early as high school, students can pursue a career that combines their talents and passions with industry-specific skills training and education. Trade schools may lead to an associate degree, a diploma, or a certificate.

Michigan trade schools include public schools and private colleges. Trade school programs often offer training for the state’s growing industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and construction. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 74% of graduates from technical and trade school programs find work in their field, compared to 53% of graduates with academic credentials. FIND PROGRAMS By Heather Mullinix Published on July 14, 2020

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Trade school programs include a mix of classroom and experiential training. For instance, learners in occupational therapy assistant programs complete clinical training to build hands-on skills. Michigan offers many resources to help students meet their educational and career goals through the Michigan Talent Investment Agency

This guide ranks the best vocational schools in Michigan. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as scholarship opportunities for trade school students and common careers and potential salaries for graduates.

Vocational Trade Schools in Michigan

With so many vocational schools in Michigan, students may need help selecting the school that best meets their needs. Learners can use the following ranking to help them find programs aligned with their interests and goals.

Washburn Institute of Technology
LocationTopeka, KS

With its newly remodeled automotive lab, the Washburn University Institute of Technology's Auto Service Technician program provides students with both classroom and hands-on learning opportunities as they learn about the maintenance and repair of engines, brakes, transmissions and electrical systems in various types of vehicles. The program can be completed in 2 semesters by full-time students, or in 4 semesters by part-time and high school students. Upon completion, students will earn a 52-credit hour technical certificate and be eligible to pursue an associate or more advanced degree.

Salina Area Technical College
LocationSalina, KS

Salina Area Technical College's Automotive Technology program prepares students for careers as general mechanics, brake specialists, transmission specialists, specialists in electronic systems and others. Students receive a personal tablet computer upon enrollment, and have the option of earning a technical certificate (53 credits) in 4 semesters or an Associate of Applied Science degree (68 credits) in 5 semesters. In addition to classroom and on-campus shop work, students also work in real-world situations as part of their education. While classes must be attended in-person, free online tutoring is available.

Central Louisiana Technical Community College
LocationAlexandria, LA

Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CTCC) has anautomotive programthat prepares students to service all types of vehicles upon graduation. This 60-credit program is generally completed in 4 semesters based on a full-time schedule (15 or more hours per semester). Students who complete the entire program earn a technical diploma (the highest credential for the program), and may take the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test. The program itself, as well as all of its instructors, are accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

Arkansas State University-Mountain Home
LocationMountain Home, AR

Arkansas State University's automotive program offers 2 options for students to gain entry-level skills as auto mechanics. They can earn a technical certificate in Automotive Systems Repair over the course of 2 semesters and 48 credits, or an Associate of Applied Science in Workforce Technology with an emphasis in automotive systems repair with 1 additional semester and 12 credits. ASU emphasizes hands-on training, and uses a curriculum developed by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) to lead to National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Some core courses may be taken online; however, the majority of students' time is spent in the on-campus shop.

Lake Area Technical Institute
LocationWatertown, SD

Lake Area Technical Institute's (LATI) Automotive Technology program emphasizes hands-on training to prepare students for future careers as service technicians, transmission specialists and auto shop managers. This 18-month program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), and instructors hold certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Graduates may also go on to complete a Light Duty Diesel Technology program; for this option, students earn their ASE certifications in Automobile and Light Truck over a summer session, or enroll for a third year of study (9 months), culminating in an AAS degree in addition to ASE certification.

Mitchell Technical Institute
LocationMitchell, SD

Mitchell Technical Institute's Diesel Power Technology AAS degree prepares students for careers as mechanics, service technicians or field technicians specifically for machinery in the agriculture industry. Graduates may also work in sales at agricultural power equipment dealerships. Students will learn the fundamentals of power trains, hydraulics, air conditioning and electrical systems, and will participate in an internship to gain hands-on experience. The degree requires 76 credits taken over 5 semesters. Various scholarships are available.

Brigham Young University-Idaho
LocationRexburg, ID

Brigham Young University-Idaho's Automotive Technology Program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and offers students several options. On-campus students may obtain bachelor's degrees in either automotive engineering, advanced vehicle systems or automotive technology (requiring 120 credits over 4 years), or obtain an associate degree in automotive technology (64 credits). Students must take at least one course online; those interested in pursuing their studies completely online may choose BYU's Auto Service Technology Certificate. Students in this program learn skills such as diagnosis and repair, maintenance, and automotive operation; credits earned can be applied toward a full automotive degree or translated directly into the workplace as a service adviser or technician. The certificate program is composed of 17 credits, with each course worth 2-3 credits.

Cabell County Career Technology Center
LocationHuntington, WV

High school students and adult learners interested in becoming entry-level automotive technicians may apply to the automotive technology program at Cabell County Career Technology Center. High school students spend half a day in class over 2 years, for a total of 1,080 hours, while adults can attend evening classes over 2 years for a total of 1,200 hours. Students spend the majority of their time in the lab. The high school program teaches 4 core courses (Fundamentals of Automotive Technology, Basic Engine Concepts, Brake Systems, and Suspension and Steering Systems); the adult program has additional subject areas. Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education with approval by the West Virginia Department of Education, students are able to earn hours to become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). A student services coordinator assists with services such as job shadowing and job placement.

Alexandria Technical & Community College
LocationAlexandria, MN

The Diesel Mechanics program at Alexandria Technical Community college uses both classroom and lab work to prepare graduates for work on construction and agricultural equipment, as well as truck repair and maintenance. Students can obtain an AAS degree with the completion of 108 credits over 2 years, or the Diesel Mechanics diploma with 99 credits over the course of 2 years. Many scholarships are available to students through ATC's various industry partnerships. Graduates go on to jobs as diesel technicians, fleet mechanics and field service technicians.

Mesalands Community College
LocationTucumcari, NM

In Mesalands Community College's Power Technology program, students may earn an Associate of Applied Science in either automotive technology or diesel technology with 61 credit hours, or an applied science certificate in either field with 37 credits. Programs provide students with the fundamentals and knowledge to service and repair vehicles pertaining to their specialization. Certificates can take as little as 6 months to 1 year to complete, while AAS degrees take 2 years or 4 semesters.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Prospective students should ensure that any school they attend holds accreditation and state licensure. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to factors like student learning outcomes, academic rigor, and faculty qualifications. 

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, 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. 

Schools may hold regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits schools in Michigan. National accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational, and trade schools. National accrediting agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Council on Occupational Education. Additionally, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission accredits online schools. 

All postsecondary educational institutions serving Michigan residents must seek authorization to operate in the state. Michigan participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements program, which offers a uniform set of standards for state authorization.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Many in-demand careers offer job satisfaction and above-average earnings without requiring an expensive or time-consuming degree. Professional trade occupations offer a median income of $54,000 and make up more than 545,000 jobs in Michigan, with more than 47,000 job openings each year. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation reports that businesses continue to expand their operations in the state thanks to business-friendly policies and a coordinated talent program developing a skilled workforce. In-demand fields include medical device manufacturing, cybersecurity, healthcare, and composite materials manufacturing. Michigan also remains at the center of global automotive manufacturing and leads the nation in information technology job growth.

Physical therapy assistants and medical sonographers are among the state’s fastest-growing careers, with projected growth of 31% and 19%, respectively. With a two-year degree, physical therapy assistants can earn $35,000-$76,000 annually.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Trade schools in Michigan prepare graduates for positions in diverse fields, such as healthcare, technology, and the skilled trades. The following sections outline just a few of the many types of trade schools.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Students can access multiple financial aid resources to help pay for their trade school education, such as loans, scholarships, and grants. To qualify for federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year. However, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal aid. 

The federal Pell Grant program assists students in paying for their postsecondary education, with a maximum award of $6,345 in the 2020-21 school year. This need-based program considers the cost of a student’s selected institution, enrollment status, and the expected family contribution. 

States, schools, and philanthropic organizations may also use FAFSA information to determine financial awards. Because some programs offer funding on a first-come, first-served basis, students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. 

Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following section outlines several scholarship opportunities for students at vocational schools in Michigan.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Scholarships may award recipients based on factors like need, academic record, and community involvement. The following list outlines several of many scholarship opportunities for trade school students in Michigan.

Additional Education and Career Resources


What is the difference between a trade school and a college?Trade schools provide career-focused training, focusing on the skills necessary for a specific job. Colleges emphasize academic training, which incorporates courses in a variety of disciplines.
What can you learn at a trade school?Vocational schools in Michigan offer hundreds of career training opportunities, many of which are aligned with in-demand jobs throughout the state. Trade schools offer training in areas such as allied health, technology, and cosmetology.
What are examples of vocational jobs?Examples of vocational jobs include electrician, cosmetologist, occupational therapy assistant, paralegal, and paramedic.
What are the different types of trade schools?Michigan’s system of community colleges includes 28 schools offering a variety of technical and vocational programs in areas like allied health, technology, and the skilled trades.

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