Vocational Trade Schools in Mississippi [2022 Guide]

Updated August 31, 2022 • 6 Min Read

Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools offer career-focused programs that prepare students for specific occupations in skilled trades like plumbing, aviation mechanics, HVAC, and electronics technology and repair. Also referred to as vocational and tech schools, trade schools provide intensive practical training in addition to classroom instruction.

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Due to socioeconomic factors and technological advancements, vocational schools have expanded their offerings to include programs in fields like multimedia animation, web design, and diagnostic technology.

Trade school programs usually take under two years to complete, with many lasting between 12-18 months. In addition to saving time, students save money, since they only have to pay tuition for up to two years.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 74% of students with an occupational credential from a vocational school find jobs that are directly related to their field of study after completing their program. By contrast, only 53% of students with academic credentials from four-year colleges find work in their major after graduation.

By offering short, career-focused programs and graduating skilled professionals, trade schools meet the educational needs of students and the occupational requirements of American workplaces.

Read on to learn more about trade schools in Mississippi and vocational education in general.


What is the difference between a trade school and a college?Trade schools offer career-based programs with extensive fieldwork components. Colleges offer two-year and four-year degrees that incorporate general education and major courses.
How much does a trade school cost?The average cost of trade school is $33,000 for an entire program, or the equivalent of approximately one year of enrollment at a four-year university.
What are examples of vocational jobs?Examples of vocational jobs include aviation mechanics, dental hygienists, cosmetologists, barbers, and automotive technicians.
What are the different types of trade schools?Some trade schools focus on technology and offer more programs in fields like computer programming and web design. Other trade schools offer programs in more traditional skilled trades like plumbing, auto repair, and welding.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Accreditation attests to the quality of a school's educational programs. Postsecondary institutions, including vocational schools, community colleges, and private and public universities, voluntarily go through the accreditation process to demonstrate their commitment to providing quality education.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the accreditation process in the United States. Nonprofit universities typically seek regional accreditation. For-profit career-based schools, including trade and sectarian schools, often seek national accreditation. Programmatic accreditors evaluate specific programs instead of entire schools.

A school's accreditation plays an important role for students who plan to apply for scholarships and grants to help pay for their education. The ED only channels federal financial aid through accredited institutions. In addition, accredited schools only accept credits for transfer if students earned them at another accredited institution.

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges serves as the main accreditor for trade schools in Mississippi. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission accredits online schools and programs.

All states require schools within their borders to be licensed before they can open. While important, licensure does not equate to accreditation.

A license means a school meets the minimum state requirements to offer educational programs. Accreditation examines the quality of a school's offerings to make sure they meet the rigor and standards established by the ED, CHEA, and the larger academic community.

Vocational Trade Schools in Mississippi

  1. East Mississippi Community College

    Scooba, MS



    EMCC maintains campuses in Scooba, Golden Triangle, and Communiversity locations. It features over 30 career and technical programs in high-demand fields such as business management, human services, medicine, and hospitality. Each program falls under one of the following divisions: career technical and education, manufacturing technology and engineering, or nursing and allied health.

    EMCC's two-semester vocational certificate programs include certification opportunities. Certain fields of study at some campuses also offer four-semester associate degrees. On-campus students partake in applied learning sessions, such as labs. EMCC also offers over 450 distance learning courses. Online courses feature set start and end dates, but they allow asynchronous attendance. Interested students can obtain apprenticeships through EMCC.

    Applicants submit official transcripts demonstrating evidence of a high school or GED diploma. Candidates seeking ACT-based scholarships or applying after the 2021 school year also submit ACT scores. Applicants over age 21 may take an Accuplacer assessment test instead. Like many other trade schools in Mississippi, EMCC offers various scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

  2. Northwest Mississippi Community College

    Senatobia, MS



    Maintaining campuses in Senatobia, DeSoto, and Oxford, Northwest offers both academic associate degrees and career and technical programs. Through articulation agreements, Northwest's Academic Pathways ensures that students can transfer associate of arts degree credits to any Mississippi four-year public university.

    Students seeking technical careers often pursue a two-year associate of applied science degree or enroll in nine-month career certificate programs, which focus on skills-training for various entry-level jobs.

    Aspiring distance learners must gain acceptance to the college and approval from an advisor before enrolling in online courses. Online courses cost the same as on-campus courses, and they typically entail eight hours of work per week during the school year and 10-12 hours during the summer. Northwest's online courses accommodate working students by allowing asynchronous participation.

    Northwest's Career Center provides student services, including career counseling, resume help, and interviewing practice. Northwest also connects many learners to career internship opportunities.

  3. Hinds Community College

    Raymond, MS



    Located in Raymond, Hinds offers 70 career and technical programs, including associate of applied science, certificate, and skills-focused instructional programs. Motivated, high-performing students may participate in Hinds' Honors Institute.

    Hinds' programs prepare students for lucrative, in-demand jobs in fields such as arts, media, and entertainment; hospitality and tourism; manufacturing; and transportation and logistics.

    Hinds offers over 500 mostly asynchronous distance learning courses, enabling learners to complete many programs partially or fully online. However, online courses cost slightly more and may require occasional trips to campus for tests.

    The college features an open-door admissions policy that admits all students. Tuition varies based on state and campus residency status. Students can apply for financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, and loans.

  4. Meridian Community College

    Meridian, MS



    Founded in 1937 in Meridian, MCC offers over 50 study areas, including 30 vocational associate degrees and 26 certificate programs. Program lengths vary, but many certificate programs take one year to finish while associate programs often take two years. MCC's programs span five divisions, including business, health education, emergency services, and industrial technology.

    MCC's University Transfer Program helps students complete an associate degree that will transfer to bachelor's programs at senior colleges and universities such as Mississippi State-Meridian and University of West Alabama.

    MCC admission requirements vary by program, but MCC recommends that students possess an ACT composite score of 17, a score 70 or better on Accuplacer Reading, achieve at least a C in Intermediate English and reading, or maintain at least a C average over at least 15 semester hours at an accredited college.

    An active Mississippi Virtual Community College participant, MCC's Holladay Center for eLearning runs online courses throughout the year. MCC also provides cultural enrichment events, student support services, and adult and continuing education programs.

  5. Pearl River Community College

    Poplarville, MS



    Starting in 1909 as Mississippi's first county agricultural high school, PRCC became the state's first two-year public college in 1924. Today, PRCC offers both two-year and four-year academic pathways within eight major areas of study, including business, education, and hospitality and human services.

    PRCC also provides workforce training and certification for careers including nursing assistant, truck driver, and emergency medical technician. Electrical students can participate in PRCC's utility lineman apprentice program.

    Learners can take traditional, partly online, and fully online e-learning courses through Canvas. Online students must commute to campus once per term for testing. PRCC also offers career coaching and resources to prospective and current students. Enrollees interested in transferring to four-year schools should consult PRCC's articulation agreement and use the Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool.

  6. Jones County Junior College

    Ellisville, MS



    JCJC, a regionally accredited public community college in Ellisville, runs associate degree and certificate programs in 26 career areas.

    JCJC's technology-focused programs include automotive technology, business and office technology, information systems technology, and manufacturing and machining technology. Students can also explore topics such as culinary arts, early childhood education, and medical radiology.

    Program length varies from two semesters, for career certificates, to 4-5 semesters, for associate of science degrees. To accommodate demanding schedules, JCJC offers online courses requiring proctored exams and weekly attendance and assignments.

    JCJC offers various job placement services, including a credit-granting, work-based learning program. Students can apply for various kinds of financial aid, including scholarships. Prospective students must submit official transcripts and ACT scores.

  7. Copiah-Lincoln Community College

    Wesson, MS



    Founded in 1928, Co-Lin serves over 3,000 students across three campuses in Wesson, Natchez, and Simpson County. By participating in the Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Pathways Consortium, Co-Lin helps address the challenges facing trade-impacted workers in southwest Mississippi.

    Co-Lin offers short-term workforce training, career certificates, national certifications, and two-year associate of applied science degrees. Associate degree-seekers can complete 33 of the school's 37 career and technical education programs 100% online. Co-Lin's career and technical programs fall within career areas such as health sciences, human sciences, and transportation.

    Students with life, career, or military experience may qualify for college credit through prior learning assessments. Co-Lin offers financial aid options, including financial assistance to eligible students through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Program.

  8. Southwest Mississippi Community College

    Summit, MS



    Established in 1908 and located in Summit, SMCC features both academic and technical programs, including workforce training and continuing education.

    Primarily serving students seeking employment post-graduation, SMCC's 15 career-technical programs include carpentry, truck driving, welding, and heating and air conditioning. SMCC enrollees can also study computer, automotive, electrical, and process operations technologies. SMCC offers additional, special courses when 10 or more students demonstrate interest. Electrical students may take advantage of Southwest Electric's Lineman Apprenticeship Program.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts. Some technical programs also require submission of ACT scores. Prospective students planning to transfer to four-year schools should verify that their technical SMCC credits will transfer to their desired school.

    SMCC offers financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work study, and veteran's assistance. Qualified students in career-technical training programs may receive financial assistance from a federal grant called the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act.

  9. Mississippi Delta Community College

    Moorhead, MS



    Originally called Sunflower Junior College when founded as an agricultural school in 1927, MDCC runs four campuses in Moorhead, Greenville, Indianola, and Greenwood. MDCC offers career and technical programs in fields such as automotive, manufacturing, and hospitality and tourism.

    Career and technical students can choose between career certificate, technical certificate, and associate of applied science programs. Career certificate programs usually require two semesters, while technical certificates and associate degrees may take double the time to complete.

    Admission requirements vary by program. However, many programs require an ACT score of at least 14 or 15 or at least a 2.0 GPA before or by the end of the second semester. MDCC offers scholarships and encourages applicants to obtain federal and state financial aid.

  10. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

    Perkinston, MS



    Across its three campuses and six centers, MGCCC provides eight pathways and over 60 career and technical programs in fields such as business, education, and health sciences.

    Most MGCCC career and technical programs take 2-4 semesters to complete. Certificate and diploma programs often take 2-3 semesters, while the associate in applied science degree usually requires four semesters.

    Students interested in online learning can use MGCCC's Premier Experience, which allows enrollees to attend fully or partly online. Through "hyflex" courses, distance learners may engage with live sessions in an actual classroom.

    More than 70% of current MGCCC students receive financial aid, often as scholarships, grants, work study, or loans. MGCCC maintains an open, rolling admissions policy, although applicants may need to submit standardized test scores for some programs.

The following institutions are some of the best vocational schools in Mississippi. Read on to find out more about each school's accreditation, available programs, online options, and scholarship opportunities.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for all trade school occupations is $59,370. Lucrative trade school occupations include electrical line installers, aircraft mechanics, and elevator installers and repairers.

As in most fields, job location impacts career options and salary levels. The states that hire the highest number of trade school graduates are as follows: Indiana (196,740), Tennessee (190,390), Alabama (130,840), Louisiana (129,370), and Iowa (108,690).

The BLS projects strong growth rates between 2018 and 2028 for plumbers (14%), HVAC technicians (13%), and electricians (10%). On the other hand, the BLS projects little to no change at all in the growth rates for automotive service technicians and air traffic controllers.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Vocational schools in Mississippi typically offer programs that support and address the needs of local industries and businesses. For example, trade schools in states with a thriving manufacturing sector tend to offer more programs in areas like industry automation, logistics, and transportation.

The following vocational programs represent a small sample of trade school offerings,

Dental Hygienist Schools

Dental hygienist programs prepare students for the workforce by providing intensive practical training along with comprehensive classroom instruction. Courses include oral anatomy, radiography, and nutrition and oral health.

States require dental hygienists to earn a license before they can practice. Although each state maintains specific licensure requirements, most states require students to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination after completing an accredited program from a trade school or community college. The Commission on Dental Accreditation serves as the main accrediting agency for dental hygienist programs.

According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of $76,220 in 2019 with a projected 11% growth rate between 2018 and 2028.

Mechanic Schools

Trade schools usually offer 12-month mechanic programs that prepare students for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification exams. The exams cover more than 40 specialty areas, including medium/heavy trucks, collision repair, truck equipment, and school bus.

Candidates need at least two years of on-the-job training. Candidates who completed an accredited mechanic program can sit for the test with only one year of on-the-job training. Mechanics must retest every five years to maintain their certified status.

According to the BLS, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.

Paralegal Schools

Trade schools usually offer 12-month mechanic programs that prepare students for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification exams. The exams cover more than 40 specialty areas, including medium/heavy trucks, collision repair, truck equipment, and school bus.

Candidates need at least two years of on-the-job training. Candidates who completed an accredited mechanic program can sit for the test with only one year of on-the-job training. Mechanics must retest every five years to maintain their certified status.

According to the BLS, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.

Radiology Technician Schools

General medical and surgical hospitals employ the highest number of radiology technicians, who also work in physicians' offices, outpatient care centers, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

Radiology technology programs include courses like radiation biology, X-ray machine operation, imaging analysis, and radiation physics. Since radiology technicians work directly with patients, most programs also include coursework in patient care procedures and professional ethics.

Most states require radiologic technicians to obtain a license before they can practice. The American Registry of Radiologic Technicians administers several tests that states use as a basis for licensure.

According to the BLS, radiology 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 American students, the search for financial aid begins by completing the FAFSA. Most trade schools, community colleges, and universities rely on FAFSA information to determine each student's eligibility for scholarships and grants. Private nonprofit organizations and several trade organizations that administer student financial aid programs also rely on FAFSA information in allotting financial aid to applicants.

Trade school students with demonstrable financial need can apply for Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Students do not have to repay the money they receive from these programs as long as they meet and comply with the requirements.

When students must take out a loan, they should borrow from the government before approaching private lenders. Federal student loans often come with lower interest rates and deferment options.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Since they do not need to be repaid, scholarships are the best form of financial aid. Students enrolled in trade schools in Mississippi can begin their search for financial aid by exploring the scholarship programs below.

Horatio Alger Association Career & Technical Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from students who are under 30 years of age and facing extreme financial need. Applicants must demonstrate how they have overcome adversity in their life.
Amount: $2,500

Apply for Scholarship

Key Thinker Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must submit an essay on financial responsibility and the steps they are taking to achieve it. Applicants must be full-time students at any college, trade school, or university in the United States.
Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association

Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from students enrolled in an automotive program at a college or trade school in Mississippi. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit an essay.
Amount: $1,500

Apply for Scholarship

National Future Farmers of America Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from students enrolled in an agricultural program at a trade school, college, or university. Each scholarship maintains specific requirements and criteria.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractor National Association Educational Foundation Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from students pursuing a plumbing and heating/cooling program at an accredited trade school or community college. Plumbing and heating professionals seeking to upgrade their skills can also apply.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

Mississippi Association for Career and Technical Education

Provides membership opportunities for CTE educators. The site includes updates about upcoming events, national awards and conferences.

Mississippi Community College Board - Office of Career and Technical Education

Oversees programs for the 15 community and junior colleges around the state. The site includes annual reports and information about vocational and trade programs.

Mississippi Development Authority - Training Network

Provides resources to connect employees with employers and provides details about state universities and community colleges. The Mississippi Works section is dedicated to workforce and training programs and information about key industries in the state.

North Mississippi Industrial Development Association

Comprehensive list of resources for industrial workers with information about workforce training programs specifically for area businesses. Includes a list of sites and buildings around the region and key industries in north Mississippi.

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