Trade & Vocational Schools Online

Online vocational schools are a great way to get the training you need and enter the workforce quickly. Here, we outline sample courses and degrees.

May 26, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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What are Trade Schools?

Online vocational trade schools offer programs blending online coursework and hands-on experiences. These programs train learners for lucrative positions such as licensed vocational nurse, HVAC technician, and home inspector. Other majors prepare students for careers as plumbers and electricians. Some jobs require additional training, such as an apprenticeship.

Applicants to online trade schools typically need a high school diploma or passing GED scores. Some schools also accept the HiSET. Applicants without a degree or the equivalent can explore local GED-preparation classes, which many community colleges offer at little to no cost.

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Questions About Vocational Trade Schools


Can vocational training be done online?

Most online vocational schools offer hybrid curricula. Students typically complete academic classes fully online. Learners develop skills during in-person labs and internships.

Is vocational school the same as trade school?

Many vocational and trade schools offer similar diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees. Prospective students should compare schools' academic offerings before applying.

What are some high-paying vocational jobs?

For graduates of vocational school, careers with high salaries include construction manager and dental hygienist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that dental hygienists earn a median salary of $77,810 per year.

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Best Trade Schools and Degrees

  1. West Kentucky Community and Technical College
    Location

    Paducah, KY

    Tuition

    $5440

    Located in Paducah, WKCTC offers online vocational trade degrees, diplomas, and certificates in several in-demand fields.

    The school offers several associate degrees in fields like computer and information technology, logistics and operations management, and medical information technology. The school also offers a unique degree or certificate in marine technology, preparing students for life on the water. Students seeking other certificate programs for fast employment can choose from the same fields as those above but graduate from the program in just a few months.

    Most students complete the school's 39- to 43-credit diploma programs in about one year. Notable choices include medical information technology, computer-aided drafting and design, and business administration systems.

    Students applying to associate programs ideally possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Diploma and certificate choices require students to submit a completed application for the college.

    WKCTC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Clovis Community College
    Location

    Clovis, NM

    Tuition

    $5996

    Located in Clovis, New Mexico, CCC offers several online vocational trade degrees and certificates. Students can complete course requirements 100% online with no residency requirements.

    Online degree and certification options include several in business administration, paralegal studies, behavioral science, and computer information systems. Associate degree programs require about 60 credits each to complete. Students can complete the certificate of completion programs in about a few months to a year of study. Notable choices include a certificate of achievement in income tax preparation, certificate of achievement in fundamentals of game design, and certificate of completion in legal assistant studies.

    The school prefers students to possess a high school diploma to apply for associate degree programs. For certificate of achievement choices, students must submit a completed application and take placement tests. The school offers counseling and advising services for online students and does not require standardized tests to begin the admission process.

    CCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Central Community College
    Location

    Grand Island, NE

    Tuition

    $8220

    Serving students in Grand Island, Nebraska, CCC offers several online certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs. Students outside of Nebraska must reside in an authorization reciprocity state to attend.

    Students can complete associate degrees in a variety of fields such as business administration, health information technology, and early childhood education. In addition, the school offers information technology certificates like Cisco networking and business-related certificates like logistics or entrepreneurship. The school also offers year-long diploma programs for students exploring career choices in similar fields.

    Students do not need a high school diploma or GED to apply, but the school prefers students to submit them for placement purposes. Standardized tests or placement exams can help students that need to complete general education courses.

    CCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
    Location

    Shell Lake, WI

    Tuition

    $9968

    Located in Shell Lake, WITC offers 37 online associate degrees, certificates, and technical diplomas, offering students a jumpstart in in-demand fields.

    Students can choose one of 11 associate degrees, including accounting, early childhood education, health information technology, and medical and administrative professional. The school also offers certificates in customer service, management, group childcare essentials, and tax preparer assistant. Learners can also participate in technical diplomas with concentrations such as drafting technician, medical billing specialist, office technology assistant, or office support technician. Students wanting to work in childcare settings can choose a one-year technical diploma in childcare services, completing the first year of the associate degree for fast employment.

    The school offers credit for prior learning and a generous transfer credit policy. Applicants do not need a high school diploma, but possessing one makes the placement process easier.

    WITC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
    Location

    Valdosta, GA

    Tuition

    $1551

    Located in Valdosta, Wiregrass offers online degrees, diplomas, and technical certificates, allowing students to complete courses without coming to campus.

    Students can begin with certificates in fields like child development specialist, technical specialist, and fire officer. Students can complete most certificates in a matter of months. Some departments also offer diploma choices — including fire science technology and accounting — allowing students to specialize further with a one-year program. Full associate degrees include fire science technology, accounting, business management, and criminal justice technology. The programs follow the same structure as on-campus classes, but most happen asynchronously.

    Students do not need a high school diploma or GED to apply but need to send transcripts of any completed school work. Wiregrass is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Why Earn a Vocational Degree?

Online vocational schools prepare learners for the workforce much faster than four-year institutions. Most trade programs take only one year. Students at online vocational schools can consult with academic and career advisors. Learners gain in-demand skills during hands-on training. For graduates of vocational school, careers often feature many professional advancement opportunities.

Hybrid programs are ideal for students with full-time jobs or family responsibilities. However, prospective students should ensure their schedule can accommodate in-person requirements. Learners with scheduling problems should consult an academic advisor as soon as possible.

How Much Does a Vocational Degree Cost?

For learners attending online vocational trade schools, tuition costs vary by institution. Annual tuition costs can range from $5,000-$15,000. Learners in online trade schools often pay significantly less than students in four-year programs. However, trade school students should also budget for books and equipment related to their major. For example, nurses-in-training may pay hundreds of dollars for uniforms. Schools may also charge parking fees.

Learners attending online vocational schools can minimize debt by applying for institutional grants and scholarships. Students may also qualify for federal Pell grants. Learners with financial need should submit the FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal funding.

Additional Online Student Fees

Prospective students should research additional fees at online vocational schools. Learners may pay fees for online course delivery and IT resources. Students should also budget for transportation costs associated with campus visits and internships. Many trade schools also charge a graduation fee.

Graduates entering some careers pay fees to obtain a state license or professional certification. For example, electricians apply for a license after completing an apprenticeship. As of May 2022, electricians in California pay $175 in examination and licensure fees. Renewal costs $100. Certification fees vary by organization. Many organizations offer member discounts.

Example Courses at an Online Vocational Trade School

Online vocational trade schools offer career-aligned curricula with minimal general education requirements. Students typically graduate much more quickly than degree-seekers at four-year institutions. Many vocational schools also offer associate degrees, which prepare learners to enter the workforce or bachelor's programs.

The following sample curriculum highlights three classes common to automotive HVAC certificate programs. Learners can apply classroom knowledge to work in on-campus labs or an internship at a local car dealership. Curriculum requirements and program outcomes vary by school.

  • Foundation and Safety

    This introductory class trains students on safety best practices. Participants learn to monitor equipment's condition. Coursework explores workers' responsibilities related to on-the-job safety. Automotive HVAC technicians use this knowledge to identify problems that make cars unsafe to drive. The class also introduces basic car repair techniques.
  • Engine Repair

    Automotive HVAC technicians' typical responsibilities include repairing engines. This class emphasizes diesel and gasoline engine fundamentals. Coursework covers intake and exhaust, internal combustion, and parts. Learners explore common repairs and complete hands-on training, which involves removing, disassembling, and installing engines.
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

    Students in this class memorize the many parts of a car's HVAC system. Learners understand heating and cooling systems' operations. Coursework covers diagnostic techniques and industry best practices to prepare participants for HVAC technician roles.

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.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Example Degrees at an Online Vocational Trade School

Many of the top online vocational trade schools deliver online, hybrid, and on-campus programs. Incoming students select a career field, such as healthcare or IT. Career advisors help students choose a program that meets their long-term goals. Learners who are unsure about their professional goals should consider online vocational schools offering certificate, diploma, and associate programs.

The programs below prepare students for careers within 12 months. Not all online trade schools offer these programs. Academic expectations and coursework also vary by school.

  • Medical Billing and Coding Professional

    Some students earn this certificate in 40 weeks. Course topics include insurance billing, medical terminology, and electronic health records. Graduates often qualify to earn the industry-leading certified coding associate credential. Certificate-holders often become medical billing specialists, medical records analysts, and collections specialists.
  • Technical Support Specialists

    Computer technicians with a CompTIA A+ certification work at an IT consulting firm, medical center, or local business. The career also lets professionals work for themselves. A certificate in technical support specialist prepares them for this career with classes in database concepts, IT fundamentals, and spreadsheet concepts.
  • Legal Administrative Assistant

    Legal administrative assistants work in law offices nationwide. Like lawyers, these professionals specialize in civil or criminal law. Classes in this certificate program may cover spreadsheet concepts, advanced legal litigation, and basic legal calendaring. Students also analyze accounting and business fundamentals. Top programs offer resume assistance and practice interviews.

Recommended Reading

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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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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