Vocational Trade Schools in New Jersey [2022 Guide]

A technical education is a great way to open up a new pathway in your career. Here, we list the best trade schools in New Jersey.

Updated September 15, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade school students acquire career-ready technical skills by earning certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Trade schools provide a pathway to lucrative and in-demand careers in fields like plumbing, robotics, cybersecurity, and auto repair.

Career and technical education (CTE) blends experiential learning and classroom lectures. Students in New Jersey can begin exploring careers as early as middle school to see if a particular field grabs their interest.

At the secondary level, students in New Jersey can take vocational education at comprehensive high schools. New Jersey also operates a unique system of secondary county vocational-technical schools that integrate academics and vocational training focused on career clusters.

At trade schools in New Jersey, students can pursue short-term certificates, one-year diplomas, and two-year associate degrees.

Vocational education continues to grow in the Garden State. For the 2019 fiscal year, New Jersey received approximately $25,422,049 in CTE funding.

Read on to learn more about vocational schools in New Jersey.

FAQ About Vocational Trade Schools in New Jersey

What do trade schools offer?

Trade schools in New Jersey provide certificates, associate degrees, and apprenticeships to more than 32,000 secondary school students and 5,000 adult students.

How much does a trade school cost?

Trade schools receive funding from local taxes and state and federal aid, which makes programming free to local residents. Learners pursuing additional training at two-year community and technical colleges pay low tuition rates that vary by program.

What is the difference between a trade school and a college?

Trade schools prepare learners for specific technical jobs after graduation. Colleges take a more comprehensive approach by incorporating general education courses.

Can trade school credits transfer?

Possibly. Some trade schools maintain articulation agreements with local two-year and four-year colleges to facilitate a seamless transition. However, credits from unaccredited schools do not transfer.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Students should verify that their desired school holds accreditation. To receive accreditation, institutions undergo a comprehensive third-party review process to ensure they meet rigorous standards. The review process considers factors like faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student outcomes.

Only students who attend an accredited school can apply for federal financial aid. Furthermore, accredited schools typically accept transfer credits only from other accredited institutions. Employers often vet students to ensure their degree comes from an accredited school.

Tech schools in New Jersey hold either regional or national accreditation. Degree-granting schools in the United States hold regional accreditation from one of six agencies, and each accredits schools within a designated region. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education regionally accredits schools in New Jersey.

National accreditation applies to for-profit vocational institutions and trade schools. More than 650 trade and vocational schools across the country receive national accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

Some organizations award programmatic accreditation in specific fields. Automotive programs, for instance, hold accreditation from the ASE Education Foundation. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission accredits online programs at trade schools.

Trade schools in New Jersey need a license to operate. Licensure signifies that a school meets certain minimum requirements. The New Jersey Department of Education provides license information for vocational schools and the state's community colleges.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Vocational Trade Schools in New Jersey

The following section provides a ranking of the best vocational schools in New Jersey. Prospective students can match their interests and career goals with the right school.

  1. Camden County College

    Blackwood, NJ



    Among the largest and most comprehensive community colleges in New Jersey, Camden County College plays an integral role in workforce education and training. CCC teaches over 17,000 students pursuing dozens of degrees and certificates, including many vocational programs.

    CCC offers both associate degree and certificate options. For example, the computer studies department offers a computer systems technology program at both levels. Both options lead to a career in computer hardware and network systems management, though specific requirements vary. Students interested in an associate degree complete 60 credits in two years. Certificate students complete 34 credits over two semesters. Other options, like the computer information systems certificate, use online courses.

    CCC combines some degree or certificate programs with an apprenticeship. These programs add apprenticeship experience to the required curriculum and take at least one semester longer to complete than a regular associate degree or certificate.

  2. Rowan College at Burlington County

    Pemberton, NJ



    As the home of New Jersey's first 3+1 program, Rowan College at Burlington County provides affordable education with excellent outcomes. While vocational students typically do not enroll in the 3+1 program, the same affordability and quality education extends to all programs.

    RCBC offers more vocational associate degree and certificate options than other trade schools in New Jersey. The school offers many options as both an associate degree and certificate, including popular programs like accounting.

    Associate degree students complete a 60-credit, four-semester program that in some instances can transfer into a four-year degree. Certificate students complete 30-34 credits over several semesters. Both options embrace online education, though specific online availability varies by program. Through the technical studies associate degree, learners can combine a traditional education with an apprenticeship, gaining valuable hands-on experience.

  3. Raritan Valley Community College

    Branchburg, NJ

    Branchburg-based Raritan Valley Community College leads the region in workforce education, focusing on working professionals. Over half of RVCC's student body is above 21 years old and study part time. Most of the community college's programs transfer into a four-year degree, though many graduates enter the workforce after earning their associate degree or certificate.

    Several of RVCC's vocational associate programs, including business administration and health information technology, primarily use online education. Other programs, like the associate of applied science in accounting and certificate in health information technology, run entirely online. However, most of the vocational programs require students to study onsite in Branchburg.

    RVCC's workforce training division continues to find success with apprenticeships and recently secured grants to expand the program. These apprenticeships connect learners with local businesses to learn practical and employable skills.

  4. Bergen Community College

    Paramus, NJ



    Primarily located in Paramus, Bergen Community College uses learning centers in Hackensack and Lyndhurst to reach over 32,000 students, with many also using online education. The college ranks among the top regional institutions to pursue an associate degree, and most associate degrees lead directly to high-demand jobs.

    Many of the school's associate of applied science degrees fall under health professions and career technologies. Bergen Community College offers nine separate specializations for its health professions associate degree. Other popular vocational associate degree options include business technologies, human services, and information technology. The associate degrees generally take four semesters to complete with full-time study.

    Bergen Community College also offers various one-year certificates that require 30 credits to complete. Students with specific career goals in mind can take advantage of the school's apprenticeship programs.

  5. Passaic County Community College

    Paterson, NJ



    Passaic County Community College teaches students across four sites in Passaic County, including at its main campus in Paterson. The community college hosts a diverse student body, many of whom study online. Through its academic success, PCCC continues to secure federal grants to lower program costs.

    PCCC offers many associate of applied science degrees and vocational certificates, some of which also allow students to select a specialty. The associate programs typically take four semesters and 60 credits to complete. Some programs require learners to complete at least several courses online. The vocational certificates take two semesters and 30 credits to complete, and most allow students to select several elective courses.

    PCCC also works with local businesses to offer two-year apprenticeships in gas delivery, electric generation, and distribution industries, three focuses that lead to careers with skilled workforce shortages.

  6. Mercer County Community College

    West Windsor, NJ



    Created in 1966,Mercer County Community Collegeuses an open-door admissions policy, meaning it does not require applicants to submit test scores or meet GPA requirements. Three-quarters of MCCC's student body comes from Mercer County, and most learners study part time.

    MCCC offers one of the largest associate in applied science catalogs of all vocational schools in New Jersey. Learners choose from dozens of options, including degrees like fire science, fashion merchandising, and game design, that lead to positions in important regional industries. The associate degrees require 60 credits and take four semesters to complete, though most students study part time.

    MCCC learners also select from certificate programs and apprenticeship opportunities. Certificates require up to 33 credits, and students complete apprenticeships through the associate in technical studies. Some programs also include online courses.

  7. County College of Morris

    Randolph, NJ



    Located in Randolph,County College of Morrisplays a large role in local workforce education and graduates over 1,000 students each year. While many of CCM's graduates transfer into some of the best four-year programs in New Jersey, others begin their career in high-growth fields.

    CCM's programs teach important skills for local positions. For example, the associate of applied science in agribusiness leads to various careers in the local agriculture industry. This 60-credit program also allows students to earn one of four 18-19 credit certificates in a field like grounds maintenance or landscape design. Learners automatically earn a certificate en route to completing the associate degree.

    The community college offers certificates in 30- and 60-credit options, depending on the program's difficulty. Full-time students complete shorter certificates in as little as two semesters. CCM also offers some courses and certificate programs online. Students can explore several apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs.

  8. Sussex County Community College

    Newton, NJ



    Sussex County Community College, located in Newton, experienced significant growth in recent years and plans to continue adding programs and improving its campus. The community college strives to become a local leader in education and already ranks among the best vocational schools in New Jersey.

    Sussex offers many associate of applied science degrees, some of which present specialization opportunities. For example, the business management associate degree allows learners to specialize in either supply chain management or hotel/restaurant management. Both options require 60 credits and take as little as four semesters to complete.

    Students can choose from 10 certificates that require no more than 35 credits and take just two semesters to complete. Prospective students must apply with a 2.0 GPA. While Sussex offers online courses, those interested in a vocational program must study on campus.

  9. Cumberland County College

    Vineland, NJ



    One of two colleges that makes up Rowan College of South Jersey,Cumberland County Collegeuses hybrid programs to reach students beyonds its Vineland campus. While CCC works closely with Rowan College at Gloucester County, the college offers several programs only available in Vineland.

    CCC provides more than 50 academic programs, several of which lead to important regional positions. For example, the school's associate of applied science degrees in agribusiness and horticulture address projected skill labor shortages in the area. Both of these associate degrees require 60 credits to complete, and full-time students graduate in four semesters. While both associate degree options require on-campus study for hands-on experience, learners complete some courses online.

    The college's certificates also address local industries. The beverage tourism/tasting room management certificate prepares students for a career working with local breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Learners can also gain experience through CCC's apprenticeship program.

  10. Rowan College at Gloucester County

    Sewell, NJ



    Rowan College at Gloucester County, part of Rowan College of South Jersey, brings an innovative education that easily transfers into four-year programs to hundreds of students each year. With many transferable courses available online at low tuition costs, RCGC provides New Jersey learners with an affordable way to begin a career or prepare for a four-year degree.

    The Gloucester County campus offers several associate of applied science degrees and vocational certificates not available at the Cumberland campus. For example, the associate in law enforcement prepares individuals for various careers in criminal justice. While technically an associate of applied science, this degree also prepares learners to transfer into a four-year criminal justice program.

    RCGC offers many certificates that use some online courses and take 30 credits to complete. Most students graduate in two semesters. The Gloucester County college also works with the New Jersey Department of Labor to extend various workforce programs, including apprenticeships, to students.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Trade school graduates can expect to earn a competitive salary that varies depending on their chosen industry, experience, and where they live.

As students investigate career options, they should factor in career and salary outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource with current information on median annual salaries, entry-level job requirements, and job growth projections.

Trades with strong projected growth rates include electricians, nursing assistants, registered nurses, paralegals, and computer support specialists. All of these jobs pay well and do not necessarily require a bachelor's degree.

Trades feature prominently on the BLS' list of jobs with high projected growth rates between 2018 and 2028.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Vocational schools in New Jersey offer more than 450 programs for high school students and adults. These programs train learners for jobs in the state's key industries, including advanced manufacturing; health sciences; logistics and transportation; and science, technology, engineering, and math.

The following section highlights four common trade school programs.

1. Dental Hygienist Schools

Working under the guidance of licensed dentists, dental hygienists perform oral healthcare by taking X-rays, cleaning teeth, screening for diseases, and educating patients about dental hygiene.

To enter this profession in New Jersey, candidates must complete at least a certificate or associate degree from an accredited dental hygiene program in the U.S. or Canada. It takes about two years to complete a dental hygiene program.

Graduates must pass an exam administered by the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments, which is required for licensure by the New Jersey Board of Dentistry. The board also requires the state Jurisprudence Exam.

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

For more information about dental hygienist schools, visit Accredited Schools Online.

2. Mechanic Schools

Automotive and engine technology programs in New Jersey lead to a one-year General Service Technician certificate or two-year associate degree. Students can begin their studies in secondary school, transferring credit to a postsecondary program.

New Jersey's automotive programs hold certification from ASE Education Foundation. Many employers require that their technicians complete ASE certification.

According to the BLS, auto mechanics earned a median annual salary of $42,090 in 2019.

For more information about mechanic schools, visit Accredited Schools Online.

3. Paralegal Schools

Paralegals support lawyers by interviewing witnesses, conducting case research, drafting legal documents, and filing court briefs. They must have at least a certificate in paralegal studies or an associate degree to enter the field.

While New Jersey does not require licensure for paralegals, some employers may want new hires to complete paralegal certification from an organization like the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

According to the BLS, paralegals earned a median annual salary of $51,740 in 2019 with a projected job growth of 12% between 2018 and 2028.

For more information about paralegal schools, visit Accredited Schools Online.

4. Radiology Technician Schools

Radiology technologists use X-rays and CT scans to take images for diagnostic purposes. To practice in New Jersey, these professionals must complete a two-year diagnostic radiography program approved by the state's Radiologic Technology Board of Examiners or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Learners must pass the American Registry for Radiologic Technology exam or a board-approved equivalent once they complete a program. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awards licensure in this field.

According to the BLS, radiology technologists earned a median annual salary of $62,280 in 2019 with a 9% projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

For more information about radiology technician schools, visit Accredited Schools Online.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Students can attend secondary trade schools in New Jersey for free, as these schools receive funding from local taxes and state and federal aid. Learners pursuing postsecondary education at a two-year community and technical college generally pay less tuition than they would in a four-year academic program. Students at these two-year institutions qualify for scholarships, loans, and grants.

To qualify for federal financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. Scholarships do not require repayment, while federal loans offer low interest rates.

Prospective students with demonstrated financial need may qualify for the federal Pell Grant, which pays for undergraduate education and does not require repayment. Students can check with the school they plan to attend to find out if its students can receive federal student aid.

The following section provides more details about scholarships to pay for vocational schools in New Jersey.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Many organizations offer scholarships for students based on financial need, academic merit, or identity. The following section lists several scholarships to help learners pay for tuition at tech schools in New Jersey.

Community College Opportunity Grant

Who Can Apply: New Jersey students enrolled at one of the state's 18 community colleges may qualify for free tuition. Applicants must enroll in at least six credits per semester in any program, meet income requirements, and complete the FAFSA.
Amount: Varies

New Jersey Governor's Industry Vocations Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Women and people of color planning to pursue a certificate or degree in a construction-related field can apply. Applicants must earn admission to one of the state's vocational tech colleges and qualify for financial aid.
Amount: $2,000


Who Can Apply: An organization for CTE students, SkillsUSA and its partners offer several scholarships. These scholarships pay for college/postsecondary career training in fields such as HVACR, culinary arts, and homebuilding. Application requirements vary.
Amount: $1,000-$3,000

Associated General Contractors Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to students planning to enroll in an accredited construction or engineering bachelor's program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or documented permanent residents.
Amount: $2,500

Education Matters Scholarship

Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens qualify for this scholarship if they plan to attend an accredited postsecondary institution. Applicants must submit an essay outlining why education matters to them.
Amount: $5,000

Additional Education and Career Resources

State association for New Jersey's community colleges. Provides information about schools and program offerings, including scholarship opportunities. A nonprofit association representing vocational and technical schools in New Jersey. Provides information about the schools and their programs. Official website for New Jersey's education system. Provides information about various academic offerings, news and events. Provides a variety of information and statistics about New Jersey's workforce and labor market, including wage information, employment projections, workforce development programs and resources for jobseekers. Comprehensive source of information regarding New Jersey's higher education system, including school profiles.

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