Vocational Trade Schools in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has trade schools that offer vocational programs that fit all kinds of students. Find the best trade schools for your needs.

Updated September 5, 2023

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools in Rhode Island offer career-focused training in areas like healthcare, the skilled trades, emergency services, and legal services. A vocational certificate or degree prepares graduates to work in roles such as medical assistant, paralegal, mechanic, dental hygienist, HVAC technician, and cosmetologist.

During a vocational program, students complete courses and gain hands-on training. For example, paramedic studies programs include training in an ambulance or hospital setting, while occupational therapy assistants complete clinical requirements to build patient care skills. Many trade schools offer self-paced or accelerated options to fit the needs of busy students. Learners can also enroll in an online vocational program, which prioritizes flexibility.

Trade schools offer several benefits over four-year academic programs. Vocational programs typically take 1-2 years to complete, meaning vocational students can complete their training and enter the workforce faster than students in four-year programs. The shorter timeline also means that trade schools generally cost less than academic degrees. In addition, professionals with an occupational credential benefit from a higher employment rate than those with an academic credential, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This page introduces the best vocational schools in Rhode Island. Prospective students can use our list to research their options and find the right program to advance their career. This page also includes career and salary data for trade school occupations and scholarship opportunities for trade school students in Rhode Island.

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What is the difference between a trade school and a college?Trade schools provide career-focused training that often blends classroom and experiential instruction, whereas colleges typically focus on academic fields. However, many colleges offer vocational programs.
Can trade school credits transfer?Yes. Trade school credits often transfer to other institutions. In general, credits earned at a regionally accredited school are likely to transfer.
What are examples of vocational jobs?Vocational jobs include medical assistant, paralegal, electrician, dental hygienist, and mechanic.
How much does a trade school cost?The cost of a vocational program varies depending on the school. Many trade schools in Rhode Island charge under $4,500 per year in tuition and fees.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Prospective trade school students should always check a school's accreditation and licensing status before applying. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students. To earn accreditation, colleges and universities must undergo a rigorous review conducted by an independent accrediting agency. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the school's student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic mission. Accredited schools must regularly repeat the review process to maintain their status.

Accreditation benefits students in several important ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree. 

Schools that offer vocational programs may hold regional or national accreditation. Community colleges and four-year liberal arts and research institutions typically hold regional accreditation. The New England Commission of Higher Education grants regional accreditation in Rhode Island. 

Trade and vocational schools in Rhode Island often pursue national accreditation from a specialized agency like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Approved by the Department of Education, ACCSC accredits over 650 trade and technical schools nationwide. Other specialized agencies, such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, grant accreditation to online schools.

In addition to accreditation, trade schools in Rhode Island must hold a state license to offer postsecondary education. The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner approves institutions of higher education in the state.

Vocational Trade Schools in Rhode Island

Trade schools in Rhode Island train students for careers in in-demand fields. By choosing a top-ranked vocational program, professionals can advance their career and increase their earning potential. Our list ranks the best vocational schools in Rhode Island to help students find the right fit to reach their career goals.

  1. Community College of Rhode Island

    Pawtucket, RI



    Created in 1964, the Community College of Rhode Island grew from 325 students to nearly 18,000 in just over 50 years. The community college saw significant growth as a result of its dedication to affordable vocational programs for full-time and part-time learners of all ages.

    One of the top vocational schools in Rhode Island, CCRI offers more vocational associate degrees and certificates than any school in the state. CCRI's associate degrees typically require 60-65 credits to complete, with specific requirements varying by specialty. Most associate degrees also require field experience and a capstone project, helping learners gain experience and boost their resumes before graduating.

    The community college's vocational certificates require fewer credits, though most require no more than 30 credits. All programs require students to earn a 2.0 GPA or higher to graduate. In general, students can complete a vocational associate degree in two years and a certificate in one year.

  2. IYRS School of Technology & Trades

    Newport, RI



    IYRS School of Technology & Trades, an experiential learning institution in Newport, focuses solely on marine trade and manufacturing. Founded in 1993, many experts in marine manufacturing recognize IYRS as the top school in the field. The school now offers four full-time accredited programs.

    Learners choose from among four focuses: boat building and restoration, composites technology, digital modeling and fabrication, and marine systems. Each option leads to specific maritime career outcomes. However, structures vary by program. For example, the boatbuilding and restoration specialty requires two years of study with an externship after the first year of study. Alternatively, the digital modeling and fabrication program begins with coursework followed by a capstone project. After the capstone project, learners enroll in a month-long externship organized by IYRS.

    Applicants must submit a current resume, two recommendation letters, and their most current educational transcripts. IYRS requires students to apply for financial aid.

  3. Providence College

    Providence, RI



    Providence College, a Catholic institution founded in 1917, educates over 4,800 students each year. As a private school, PC does not extend in-state tuition to Rhode Island residents, though most of its students secure financial aid.

    PC offers two vocational programs: an associate degree in administrative management and a certificate in professional pet-assisted therapy. The associate degree requires 60 credits that students complete over four semesters. Learners can specialize the degree through nine elective credits. PC's professional pet-assisted therapy certificate requires just three courses covering the ethics of owning pets, building bonds with therapy pets, and a 20-hour offsite internship that students complete over a six-month period. Because of the internship's length, students take six months to finish the certificate.

    While most PC students secure financial aid, the professional pet-assisted therapy certificate does not lead to credit completion, meaning tuition may not be financial-aid eligible.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Many trade school careers offer above-average salaries and strong demand. Salaries vary by factors like location, experience, and industry, but trade school occupations pay an average of around $55,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations pay an average of $50,000 per year, while personal care and service occupations pay under $33,000 per year. Meanwhile, management occupations pay over $96,000 per year, on average. 

Location also affects salary. In Rhode Island, wage data from the BLS shows above-average salaries for many trade school occupations. Paralegals in the state earn around $52,500 per year, on average, while occupational therapy assistants make $61,500 annually. Students considering trade and tech schools in Rhode Island should research the earning potential in their field.

The demand for many trade school careers remains high. For example, BLS data projects much faster-than-average job growth for paralegals, HVAC technicians, and dental hygienists between 2018 and 2028.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

In Rhode Island, vocational schools offer programs in high-demand areas, like healthcare, the skilled trades, legal services, and technology. Vocational programs train students for careers as dental hygienists, mechanics, paralegals, and respiratory therapists. These programs also provide training for electricians, cosmetologists, occupational therapy assistants, and other trade occupations.

This section introduces some popular trade school programs in Rhode Island. In addition to the following programs, prospective students can research vocational programs in other fields.

Dental Hygienist Schools

Dental hygienists provide preventive dental care by cleaning teeth and looking for signs of oral diseases. They also apply treatments to protect teeth, take dental x-rays, educate patients on oral hygiene, and report their findings to dentists.

Dental hygienists need at least an associate degree. During an associate program, students take courses on topics like anatomy, periodontics, and dental hygiene. Programs also incorporate laboratory and clinical instruction to provide hands-on training.

According to the BLS, dental hygienists earned a median annual pay of over $76,000 in 2019, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028. In every state, dental hygienists need a license to practice. The Rhode Island Department of Health licenses dental hygienists in Rhode Island.

Learn more about dental hygienist programs.

Mechanic Schools

Mechanics, also called automotive service technicians, inspect and repair vehicles. They use diagnostic equipment to identify problems, determine the repairs necessary to keep cars and trucks running, and perform basic care and maintenance. Mechanics must also explain automotive repairs to clients.

Vocational certificates and degrees in automotive service technology include classes in areas like engine repair, brake maintenance, and automotive repair. In addition to classroom instruction, students practice their skills through a laboratory or practicum.

Mechanics can pursue professional certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in areas like automatic transmissions, electronic systems, and engine performance. According to the BLS, mechanics earned a median annual pay of around $42,000 in 2019.�

Learn more about mechanic programs.

Paralegal Schools

Paralegals assist lawyers by organizing legal documents, conducting legal research, and drafting documents like contracts. They may also file briefs and appeals with the court, take formal statements, and handle exhibits during trial. Paralegals may specialize in an area of law, like litigation or corporate law.

Prospective paralegals typically pursue vocational training through a certificate or associate degree in paralegal studies. During the program, students learn about legal research, contract law, legal writing, and business law. An associate degree represents the typical entry-level education requirement for paralegals.

BLS data projects much faster-than-average job growth for paralegals and legal assistants between 2018 and 2028. The median annual pay for paralegals exceeded $51,000 in 2019. Paralegals do not need a license to practice.

Learn more about paralegal programs.

Radiology Technician Schools

Radiology technicians use medical equipment to take diagnostic images like x-rays. They prepare patients for procedures, operate the equipment to take images ordered by a physician, and evaluate the images. Radiology technicians must also follow safety procedures to protect patients.�

Vocational schools in Rhode Island train radiology technicians through associate programs. These programs include courses on radiation physics, anatomy, and patient care. Students also complete clinical training to build career-ready skills.�

After completing an associate degree, graduates typically pursue certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Professionals also need a license in most states. The Rhode Island Department of Health grants radiology technician licenses in the state. Radiology technicians earned a median annual income of over $62,000 in 2019, with faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

Learn more about radiology technician programs.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Trade school students can help offset the costs of their education through financial aid, like loans, scholarships, and grants. When researching financial aid opportunities, students should consider federal financial aid programs. Students qualify for federal financial aid by submitting the FAFSA every year. However, only students at accredited schools can receive federal aid. 

Choosing an affordable vocational program can also help students lower the cost of their education. In Rhode Island, public universities charge an average of more than $12,000 per year in tuition and fees, while private universities cost over $40,000 per year. In contrast, Rhode Island community colleges cost around $4,500 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Scholarships and grants remain one of the best forms of financial aid since recipients do not need to pay back the awards after graduating. The next section introduces scholarships for students attending trade schools in Rhode Island.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Students attending trade and vocational schools in Rhode Island qualify for many scholarship opportunities. Private foundations, professional organizations, and government agencies support vocational students through scholarships and grants. In addition to the following scholarships, students can research opportunities based on their field or school.

Rhode Island Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Rhode Island Foundation offers multiple scholarships and fellowships to students enrolled in vocational programs, including students pursuing a vocational certificate. The requirements vary depending on the scholarship.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Carlotta Welles Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, this scholarship funds a student pursuing an associate degree to become an occupational therapy assistant.
Amount: $500

Apply for Scholarship

Nursing Foundation of Rhose Island Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in a nursing program, including practical nursing, qualify for this scholarship. Rhode Island residents enrolled in an in-state program receive preference.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports women 35 and older pursuing a technical, vocational, or associate degree. Applicants must submit transcripts, recommendations, and proof of financial need.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Mildred Sorensen National Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students attending a technical educational program leading to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree who hold a minimum 2.5 GPA qualify for this opportunity.
Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

American Nurses Association - Rhode Island

Provides support and resources for members through continuing education, exam discounts, access to peer-reviewed journals, job openings, and leadership training opportunities.

Rhode Island Department of Education

A resource for students, parents and instructors, providing news updates, an overview of vocational and trade programs in Rhode Island, and advice on preparing for postsecondary education options.

Rhode Island Hospitality Association

Members gain access to support and resources, special events, additional training opportunities, job openings, and news related to the tourism industry in the state.

SkillsUSA Rhode Island

SkillsUSA Rhode Island Part of a national organization serving high school and college students, the focus is on preparing young people to enter the workforce in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations such as healthcare.

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