Why Choose Trade School?
According to the United States Department of Labor, enrollment in trade apprenticeship programs has grown by 56% since 2013. Trade school differs from a traditional four-year college, but the basic goal remains the same: to prepare students to enter the workforce.
Trade schools offer certificates and associate degrees. Vocational programs focus more on technical skills for one specific job, while programs at traditional four-year colleges cover theories and multiple subjects. An associate degree from a vocational school takes about two years to complete, while a bachelor's from a university takes four years to complete.
Students who want to enter the workforce sooner and specialize in a trade can benefit from attending tech school. Trade schools offer programs in fields like physical therapy, welding, respiratory care, and plumbing.
Trade schools generally require a high school or GED diploma. However, some vocational schools offer programs that allow students to earn credits while completing high school.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 74% of graduates with vocational credits work in a job in a field related to their degree. With multiple trade schools in North Dakota to choose from, finding the right one takes research. Read on to learn more about the top trade schools in this state, salary potential, job growth, common vocational programs, and financial aid.
Top 10 Vocational Trade Schools in North Dakota
|#1||Bismarck State College Bismarck, ND|
|#2||North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, ND|
|#3||Lake Region State College Devils Lake, ND|
|#4||Sitting Bull College Fort Yates, ND|
|#5||Turtle Mountain Community College Belcourt, ND|
|#6||Williston State College Williston, ND|
|#7||Dakota College at Bottineau Bottineau, ND|
|#8||United Tribes Technical College Bismarck, ND|
|#9||Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND|
|#10||Cankdeska Cikana Community College Fort Totten, ND|
Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Before selecting a trade school program, research its accreditation status. Colleges can earn regional, national, and programmatic accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee third-party accrediting agencies.
The accreditation process benefits students by ensuring they receive a quality education. When a school earns accreditation, it means an accrediting agency regularly reviews its programs to ensure certain standards. Students can check a school's accreditation status using the ED's searchable database.
Trade schools commonly earn national accreditation. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges is one of the top accrediting agencies for vocational schools. Schools that offer online programs can earn national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Some tech schools in North Dakota earn regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Certain scholarships only award students attending a regionally accredited college or university, and some employers may prefer degrees from regionally accredited schools.
Degrees can also earn programmatic accreditation. For example, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education oversees accreditation for physical therapy programs, and the American Council for Construction Education accredits construction management programs.
Vocational schools in North Dakota must maintain a license. A state agency typically offers licensure to these schools, but private trade schools may earn a license from the ED. Prospective students can check with a school's admissions office concerning questions about licensing and accreditation status.
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Vocational Trade Schools in North Dakota
Finding the right vocational trade school to meet your academic, financial, and personal needs takes time. To help aid the search, we created this list of top vocational schools in North Dakota. We rank these schools based on factors like affordability and graduate success rates.
A member of the North Dakota State University System, BSC ranks among the top trade schools in North Dakota. The college is one of the larger members of the state university system and enrolls more than 4,000 students annually. BSC offers a variety of technical degrees and certificates.
Students can choose from dozens of vocational programs in fields including carpentry, electric power technology, paramedics, and information processing. The school also offers several programs in agricultural fields, one of the largest industries in North Dakota's economy. Learners can study agronomy, agricultural technology, farm and ranch management, and farm management education.
BSC associate degrees transfer easily to four-year schools in the state. The college delivers several preprofessional healthcare programs that fulfill half of the required credits for a bachelor's degree. Students can earn associate degrees in pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-optometry, and pre-occupational therapy.
A public technical college located in Wahpeton, NDSCS offers a large selection of technical degree and certificate programs. Learners can study architecture and construction, health science, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, and technology and engineering.
Like many trade schools in North Dakota, NDSCS offers several programs in agriculture, food, and natural resources. These programs prepare students for high-demand careers in the state. NDSCS delivers programs in agriculture business, animal science, farm management, precision agriculture, and ranch management. The college also offers transfer programs in agriculture and wildlife management, which prepare candidates to pursue bachelor's degrees.
NDSCS offers noncredit apprenticeship courses in fields such as carpentry, roofing, cement masonry, and welding. Available online and through correspondence, these courses are ideal for working professionals. The school also hosts a 24-month pharmacy tech-in-training program during which students work under a practicing pharmacist.
LRSC is a two-year college located near Devil's Lake, North Dakota's largest natural body of water. The college offers a variety of career and technical programs, including associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates of completion. Students prepare for careers in fields such as fitness training, wind energy technology, early childhood education, precision agriculture, and farm business management.
Through LRSC's apprenticeship program, students receive one-on-one training in a skilled trade, along with supplementary classroom instruction. Apprentices can maintain full-time employment while developing professional skills. Students can pursue apprenticeships in information technology, simulation technology, practical nursing, and electrical assembly. Aligned with industry certification exam requirements, learners typically complete apprenticeships in 2-3 years.
As one of the top North Dakota technical colleges, LRSC provides comprehensive support services, including academic advising and career planning. Advisors assist learners with registration and course planning, while career counselors offer career resources and transfer counseling.
A tribal college based in Fort Yates, SBC primarily serves the Standing Rock Reservation. One of the major tribal trade schools in North Dakota, the college offers associate degrees and certificate programs in several professions.
Students can prepare for careers as nurses, community health workers, human services technicians, paralegals, and business administration professionals. Many of the school's associate programs prepare students for further studies. Graduates often enroll in four-year programs at SBC or other colleges.
SBC's Career Development Center offers professional development services that help students explore career paths, prepare for job interviews, and build a professional network. Learners can access career counseling, learning opportunities, workshops, and transportation to regional career fairs. The college also offers academic advising and support services, including tutoring, counseling, and ichiwoglakapi talking circles.
A private tribal college located in Bellcourt, near the Canadian border, TMCC serves members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. One of the top trade schools in North Dakota, TMCC offers technical and vocational programs.
Students can choose from programs in natural resource management, computer support, process power plant technology, sports nutrition, and oil field operations. The school also offers unique programs in Anishinaabe language and Ogimaawi leadership.
TMCC participates in the Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota (TREND) program, which funds professional training in fields including energy, building and construction, and welding. Through TREND, the college offers flexible, accelerated career training in areas such as welding, concrete technology, and process plant technology. Students in these programs gain stackable professional credentials, which they can apply toward associate degrees and certifications.
WSC is a two-year college offering more than a dozen technical and vocational programs, including certificate and associate degree programs. Learners can study accounting, agriculture, business management, petroleum production technology, and speech language pathology. As a member of the North Dakota University System, WSC's associate degrees transfer easily to four-year schools in the state.
WSC offers an apprenticeship program in industrial maintenance technology. Apprentices train for careers in automated industrial fields such as oil and gas, manufacturing, and renewable energy. Emphasizing instrumentation and automation skills in oil field applications, the apprenticeship includes on-the-job training, online learning, and on-campus courses. Students typically complete the apprenticeship program within three and a half years.
DCB is a two-year college with campuses in Bottineau, Minot, and Valley City. The college offers associate and certificate programs in fields such as agriculture, computer technology, health professions, business, and computer technology. The school's vocational programs include options in agricultural management and technology, web design, diagnostic medical sonography, accounting technology, and caregiver services.
Founded as a forestry school, DCB today offers several unique programs in horticulture and natural resource management. Learners can study floral design and greenhouse technology, hemp production, specialty crop production, urban forest management, and wildlife and fisheries technology.
The Student Success Center provides services including academic advising, class scheduling, career services, and academic tutoring. Advisors help students develop an academic plan, improve their study skills, utilize technology, and connect with campus resources. Career counselors can provide professional resources and career connections.
One of the best tribal trade schools in North Dakota, UTTC is a private school that enrolls American Indian students from across the country. Located in Bismarck, the college offers more than a dozen technical and career programs, delivering diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees.
Students can choose from programs in culinary arts and nutrition, environmental science and research, heavy equipment operations, sustainable agriculture and food systems, and welding technology.
UTTC also offers bachelor's degrees, allowing students to continue their studies without transfering to another institution. The college offers bachelor's programs in fields including elementary education, business education, and criminal justice. Students can also enroll in a pre-engineering associate program designed to transfer to other colleges in the state.
DSU enrolls about 1,400 students and is a member of the North Dakota University System. Ranked among the top public colleges in the state, DSU offers technical and vocational programs primarily in the areas of agriculture and technical studies, business and entrepreneurship, and nursing.
Students can pursue degrees and certificates in agricultural sales and services, computer programming, corrective and therapeutic exercise, farm and ranch management, and reception services.
DSU students benefit from the extensive resources of a four-year college, including advising, academic support, and tutoring. DSU also provides a variety of career development resources. Students can access resume and cover letter reviews, interview preparation, networking services, and assistance transitioning from college to the workforce.
A tribal college based on the Spirit Lake Reservation, CCCC offers technical and vocational programs at the associate and certificate levels. Students can pursue programs in natural resource management, office technology, business administration, social work, and carpentry. CCCC delivers preprofessional programs in nursing and engineering, which prepare students to transfer to a four-year school.
CCCC also offers a unique program in Dakota studies, which emphasizes Native culture, language, history, and values. Highlighting the political sovereignty of tribal nations, the program explores Native rights and responsibilities, with a focus on the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation.
The Dakota studies program prepares students for further education in language and cultural studies. Graduates often pursue community-based careers in areas such as tribal health, tribal gaming administration, and tribal management.
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in North Dakota
North Dakota contains 163 public schools that offer career and technical education, including 12 schools that are dedicated specifically to vocational education. In addition, there are eight community colleges around the state that offer career and technical education programs.
Students can find the program that best meets their career goals and educational needs. To help make this decision, use the search tool below to find and sort through the different vocational and trade schools in North Dakota.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Many trade school graduates enter fields with rewarding pay and a positive job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for all technical and trade school jobs is $55,270. However, the exact pay a trade school graduate earns depends on factors like industry and experience.
Geographical location can also impact pay. For example, employers in rural towns in North Dakota may pay less than a city like Fargo due to the difference in the cost of living. However, some rural employers may offer incentives like higher pay for professionals who work in a high-need field.
According to the BLS, electricians earned a median annual salary of $56,180 in 2019 and benefit from a projected job growth of 10% between 2018 and 2028. Construction managers earned an annual median salary of $95,260 in 2019. The BLS projects the need for this job to rise by 10% between 2018 and 2028. Graduates can quickly begin working in one of these roles after finishing trade school.
Furthermore, plumbers earned a median annual salary of $55,160 in 2019 and benefit from a projected job growth of 14% between 2018 and 2028, which compares as much faster than average to other professions.
Read on to learn more about job outlook and salary for specific trade school programs.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Trade schools in North Dakota prepare individuals to become veterinarians, physical therapists, dental hygienists, occupational therapists, and radiologists. These vocational programs place emphasis on technical skills rather than theories. Some include an apprenticeship or internship component so students can gain supervised hands-on experience.
See below for five common vocational programs, including potential job growth and salary information.
Veterinarian technician programs teach students how to assist veterinarians in caring for animals. Courses allow students to gain practical experience administering medication, drawing blood, and placing catheters.
The curriculum focuses on topics like pharmaceuticals, safety when working with large and small animals, and animal anatomy and physiology. Two common courses include animal welfare and animal genetics.
The BLS reports that veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers earned a median annual salary of $28,590 in 2019. The BLS also projects a 19% job growth rate for this field. Veterinarian technicians typically work in clinics, animal hospitals, and research laboratories.
Students in a physical therapy program learn how to use exercises to help patients regain mobility after an illness or accident. Due to the practical nature of this profession, many courses in a physical therapy program include a clinical component.
Common courses include types of physical therapy exercises, the patient diagnosis process, and how to create and implement treatment plans. Students also learn about neuroscience concepts and cardiopulmonary pathology.
Physical therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and home health organizations. As baby boomers age, the BLS projects the need for these professionals to rise by 22% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also reports an $89,440 median salary for this career, although this data also includes salary figures for doctoral degree-holders.
Dental hygienist programs teach students how to examine teeth and identify oral health issues like decay and gum disease. These professionals can practice with a two-year associate degree. Most associate programs cover topics like medical ethics, dental anatomy, and elements of oral health.
Dental hygienist curricula often involve a fieldwork component. Students get to work in a clinical setting, where they practice administering cleanings and taking x-rays. Common courses include prevention of oral disease, oral pathology, and dental radiography.
According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of $76,220 in 2019. The BLS also projects the need for dental hygienists to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028. Dental hygienists typically work in dentist offices.
Occupational therapy programs teach students how to review patient medical history, evaluate patients' needs to create a treatment plan, lead exercises, and help individuals acquire take-home medical equipment. Common occupational therapy courses include analysis of human motion, kinesiology, neuroscience for occupational therapy, and ethical issues.
Occupational therapists help patients with injuries and disabilities gain as much mobility as possible to perform everyday activities. In addition to education, occupational therapists must earn a license to practice.
According to the BLS, occupational therapists earned a median salary of $84,950 per year. Jobs for these professionals are projected to grow 18% between 2018 and 2028.
Radiology programs teach students how to create x-rays, complete ultrasounds, and safely administer nuclear medicine. Radiologist programs often allow students to select a specialty or earn additional certificates. Most programs prepare students to apply for state licensure.
An associate in radiology takes about two years to complete. Students learn about topics like sonography, radiation physics and safety, imaging evaluation, patient care, and nuclear medicine properties. Most radiation programs include a clinical component that allows students to practice creating medical imagery.
According to the BLS, radiologists earned a median annual income of $62,280 in 2019 and benefit from a projected job growth of 9% between 2018 and 2028. Graduates with a radiology degree work in healthcare facilities and hospitals.
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
While vocational school tends to cost less than a traditional four-year college or university, students can still earn financial aid to lower the cost. Some accredited trade schools in North Dakota accept FAFSA funds.
The FAFSA takes about 55 minutes for first-time applicants to complete. Students who want to continue receiving funds must reapply each year, which takes about 45 minutes. Dependents must use their guardian's tax information from two years prior to the current year. All other applicants must enter their own tax information.
The government uses this data to determine need-based awards like subsidized loans and grants. The FAFSA also qualifies students to receive unsubsidized loans. Unlike subsidized loans, these funds do not require the recipient to demonstrate financial need, but they begin accruing interest immediately.
Graduates must repay federal loans, but not federal grants. Most federal loans allow a six-month grace period after graduation and follow a 10-year payment schedule. Some individuals may qualify for loan forgiveness or an alternate payment plan.
Individuals check whether their prospective school accepts FAFSA funds.
Scholarship for Trade School Students
Trade school students can avoid large student loan payments by applying for scholarships. Most scholarships require an essay component and recommendation letters, so students should plan accordingly before the deadlines.
Below, we highlight five scholarships reserved specifically for students attending trade school in North Dakota.
Who Can Apply: Students who live within the Cass County service area in Fargo can apply for this scholarship. The recipient must be pursuing an associate degree or an
electrician certificate from a vocational school in North Dakota.
Who Can Apply: Lynnes Welding Training, based in North Dakota, offers this scholarship in conjunction with the American Welding Society. Students who want to attend the
12-week welding training program hosted by Lynnes Welding Training may apply.
Who Can Apply: The Associated Builders and Contractors of Minnesota and North Dakota provide this scholarship to its student members. However, students who are not members but
either attend North Dakota State College of Science or classify as a veteran of the United States armed forces may apply. A scholarship committee selects a recipient based solely on merit.
Who Can Apply: Students planning on attending a vocational school in North Dakota may apply for this scholarship during their senior year of high school. Individuals must earn
a C grade or better in each course to maintain this scholarship.
Who Can Apply: Students attending participating trade schools in North Dakota may apply. Recipients must maintain full-time enrollment and a 2.5 cumulative GPA during their
studies and commit to working for at least three years in a profession related to the degree after graduation.
Up to $17,000