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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Created in 1933 to provide learners with an affordable route to a good career,Union County Collegecontinues its tradition through its campuses in Cranford, Elizabeth, and Plainfield. As New Jersey's oldest community college, Union has accrued decades of success preparing students for future careers or a four-year degree.
Union offers more associate in applied science programs than vocational certificates. Some fields of study, such as criminal justice, come in both formats. The criminal justice associate degree requires 60 credits over four semesters. Students must earn a 2.0 in all core classes. Similarly, criminal justice certificate students must earn a 2.0 in core classes, but only complete 30-31 credits over two semesters.
Applicants must submit SAT scores and an official high school or GED transcript. However, Union does not set minimum test score or GPA requirements. Students can complete some courses online.
Located in Jersey City,Hudson County Community College'sprime location lets students live near New York City and other major business hub, while receiving a vocational degree or certificate at an affordable price. Many of HCCC's programs prepare students for careers in and around the NYC metropolitan area.
HCCC offers many unique programs ranked among the best in New Jersey. For example, the community college's culinary arts program offers a comprehensive education while aptly preparing learners to work in the restaurant industry. Culinary art students choose between two associate of applied science degrees (one in baking and pastries and the other in general culinary arts) or a certificate. Both the associate degree and certificate in culinary arts require a 600-hour externship.
Most of HCCC's associate degrees take four semesters to complete, while the certificates take two semesters. HCCC also organizes various apprenticeship programs with local organizations.
Lincroft-basedBrookdale Community Collegeprimarily serves residents of Monmouth County. The community college teaches nearly 10,000 students pursuing a degree, over half of whom study part time. Some students also take advantage of the school's online courses, allowing for even greater schedule flexibility.
Popular fields at Brookdale include automotive technology, interior design, and fashion design and merchandising. Each field also includes different options. The automotive technology field offers an associate of applied science in General Motors automotive service or automotive technology. The first option in General Motors automotive service requires 68 credits and a 1,280-hour internship. Other programs at Brookdale follow this format, combining onsite and online education with internship or externship experience. Brookdale's certificates, like the digital drawing for interior design and architecture certificate, require 15-30 credits.
Ocean County College, a two-year community college situated in Toms River, serves more than 8,000 students. OCC has experienced an increase in minority students, working students, and available programs. Today, OCC offers associate degrees and vocational certificates through four different schools and uses an extensive e-learning campus for online courses.
OCC offers various options, including a certificate in exercise science and an associate in psychosocial rehabilitation. While most associate degrees require 60 credits and certificates require 24-30 credits, specific requirements vary. Some programs, such as the addictions counseling certificate, also require hundreds of experience hours so learners graduate with New Jersey certification and licensure eligibility. While OCC does not directly create apprenticeship opportunities, some programs allow students to count up to 20 credits through an apprenticeship.
An open-enrollment community college with nearly 13,500 students,Essex County Collegeprepares more learners to transfer into four-year institutions than any other two-year college in New Jersey. However, ECC is also one of the best trade schools in New Jersey, with 22 associate of applied science degrees and certificates.
As a Newark-based school, ECC sees many of its graduates pursue business-related roles. The community college offers several associate degree and certificate options in business. The associate degrees in business administration and hospitality management both require 60 credits, as do most associate degrees. The certificates in career development and business professional both require 30 credits. Most certificates require 24-30 credits.
Most of the community college's programs allow for some online study. ECC also lets technical studies learners begin an apprenticeship for class credit and experience.
Created in the wake of WWII during a push to make education more accessible,Atlantic Cape Community Collegeenrolls more than 8,000 students. The community college serves the Cape May and Atlantic counties, and its campus in Mays Landing sits just minutes away from Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
Atlantic Cape offers an array of associate of applied science degrees and certificates that lead to local positions. For example, associate degrees in Small UAS (drones) field tech and air traffic control terminal prepare learners for careers in New Jersey's aerospace industry. Most of Atlantic Cape's associate degrees require 60 credits, and students can complete some of their coursework online.
The vocational certificates at Atlantic Cape also address local industries. Certificates in culinary arts, flight instructions, and baking and pastries rank among the more interesting options. Most certificates require 30 credits, though the flight instructions certificate requires variable credits depending on whether students specialize in flying airplanes or helicopters.
Most ofMiddlesex County College's11,000 students come from Woodbridge, Perth, and the college's hometown of Edison. MCC also offers a comprehensive distance education program with online and hybrid options. The college attracts students from across the world, and it currently enrolls over 200 international students.
MCC provides vocational programs at the associate degree and certificate level. Most programs focus on local industries, and many students pursue degrees and certificates in engineering or business. One of the more popular options, civil engineering technology, comes as both an associate degree and certificate. Most associate degrees take four semesters to complete, though students can accelerate this timeline by studying during the summer and winter.
MCC accepts new students and transfer students, and some vocational associate degrees also transfer into four-year universities.
Warren County Community Collegebegan offering degrees in 1987, and now offers distance education, new facilities, and a comprehensive workforce development program. Learners choose from the college's various associate of applied science and certificate options, many of which lead to high-growth positions.
Many students enroll in WCCC's vocational certificates, several of which require 30 credits to complete and take just two semesters. Four popular areas of study include criminal justice - corrections, criminal justice - law enforcement, drone pilot, and drone repair and maintenance. These programs reflect some of the in-demand positions in the Washington area.
WCCC also offers 11 associate of applied science degrees, though the web development degree currently does not accept new students. The other 10 options require at least 60 credits to complete, and some use resources from other nearby community colleges and universities to offer WCCC's students the best education possible.
Founded in 1908 as a normal school,Montclair State Universityeventually grew into a four-year university with over 21,000 students. However, the university also gained a reputation as one of the top vocational schools in New Jersey thanks to its certificate programs.
Montclair currently offers seven certificates through its continuing and professional education department. The certificates cover highly technical subjects, such as cybersecurity, blockchain, and analytic linguistics, ideal for students interested in a career in IT or computer programming.
While specifics vary by program, learners can anticipate completing at least some of their certificate online. For example, the cybersecurity certificate uses live online classes for its courses. After completing the online courses, students then enroll in a six-week apprenticeship, then select a track of study. Most of Montclair's certificates take 20 weeks to complete. Montclair expects learners to study full time.
With a student body of just 1,000,Salem Community Collegeoffers learners a low student-to-faculty ratio, and professors regularly interact one-on-one with students. While SCC does not use online education, the small student body and close attention paid to individual learners makes this one of the best trade schools in New Jersey.
SCC provides learners with plenty of associate of applied science degrees and certificate options, but the college's unique glass department attracts many students outside of Carneys Point. The associate in scientific glass technology, the only program of its kind, blends lectures with hands-on study, as do many other vocational programs at SCC. Graduates find positions in various fields and industries across the nation.
Like other associate degrees at SCC, the scientific glass technology program takes four semesters to complete. SCC's certificates also lead to high-growth careers and take 2-3 semesters to complete.
Located in Jersey City,New Jersey City Universityranks among the state's most comprehensive universities. With an array of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, NJCU aptly prepares students, including working students, to begin new careers in in-demand fields across New Jersey.
While NJCU does not offer any associate of applied science degrees, the university provides learners with several vocational certificates. These certificates vary in length, typically requiring 15-30 credits and taking up to two semesters to complete. While short in length, the certificates meet industry standards. For example, the cyberdefense certificate meets the National Security Agency's standards for cyberdefense, enabling graduates to pursue government careers.
NJCU also offers some programs entirely online, though vocational certificates require students to complete some or all of their education onsite in Jersey City.
Rider University, based in Lawrenceville, educates nearly 5,000 students. The university's growth over its 155-year history includes the addition of other colleges and the creation of valuable workforce development programs.
Those interested in an associate of applied science choose either a business administration or general studies major. Each option takes two years to complete and requires 60 credits. Although both options primarily prepare learners to begin a career after graduating, many of Rider's students end up continuing their education and earning a bachelor's or master's degree.
Anyone looking for a faster route to employment would prefer a vocational certificate. Rider offers seven vocational certificates, most of which combine traditional courses with practicum hours. For example, the leadership development program requires only three courses, though students must complete a 200-hour practicum and maintain a 2.5 GPA.
Founded by the Felician Sisters in 1942,Felician Universityis a private, Franciscan school based in Rutherford. As a private university, New Jersey students cannot take advantage of in-state tuition rates. However, through financial aid, scholarships, and tuition discounts, learners can reduce Felician's total cost.
Felician offers several associate of applied science degrees, all of which take 4-5 semesters to complete. Full-time students finish these programs in just two years. While students can complete some courses online, Felician sometimes requires students to complete an internship to gain practical experience.
Similarly, Felician's vocational certificate programs might require an internship or mentorship. However, certificates also require students to pursue a two- or four-year degree through Felician. For example, learners interested in the cybersecurity certificate must enroll in a four-year STEM degree.
One of the nation's most diverse colleges,Bloomfield Collegegained recognition as a Predominantly Black Institution and Hispanic Serving Institution. Bloomfield works to prepare students for successful careers, offering affordable degrees that lead to high-growth and well-paying positions.
Learners interested in a vocational program at Bloomfield must earn a certificate since the college does not offer vocational associate degrees. Bloomfield offers four vocational certificates: court reporting, network engineering, supply chain management, and diversity training. Some certificates come with additional options. For example, the court reporting certificate offers two tracks: a four-semester program that leads to careers in scoping work and a six-semester program that leads to judicial court reporting and captioning. Both options require full-time study.
Learners must study on campus in Bloomfield as the college does not offer online courses. Bloomfield requires students to complete free introductory courses before students apply to some certificate programs.
St. Francis Medical Center School of Radiologic Technologyfocuses entirely on the field of radiology, educating future radiologic techs and radiographers. Located in Trenton, the School of Radiologic Technology requires students to attend courses onsite, completing courses and clinical experience at St. Francis Medical Center's Trenton and Langhorne locations.
The two-year radiologic technologist vocational program covers topics including radiographic procedures, image production, radiation protection, and patient care. Students begin their clinical rotations early in their first year and complete six clinical experience courses before graduating. The associate degree culminates with a senior seminar. While the program takes as little as 24 months to complete, most students take longer to finish the degree.
St. Francis offers two tracks for radiologic techs, both of which lead to advanced practice radiation therapist eligibility. The first, meant for learners who already completed an associate degree, leads to a certificate. The second, for students without an associate degree, recommends that learners first complete 13-15 credits before applying.
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in New Jersey
Students looking for vocational and trade schools in New Jersey can find them at the postsecondary level through the state's community college system.
Secondary school students can receive CTE through comprehensive high schools. New Jersey also has a unique vocational school districts system that delivers CTE to secondary students through county career academies. These academies integrate academics and vocational training around a career theme, allowing students to meet graduation requirements while learning vocational and trade skills.
To find specific vocational and trade schools in New Jersey, prospective students can use this school search tool.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.