Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Updated November 3, 2022

South Dakota has options for all kinds of students. Colleges focus more on academic training in a variety of disciplines.

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools in South Dakota prepare students for in-demand careers in a relatively short period of time. South Dakota created the South Dakota Future Fund to support workforce development in the state, particularly in manufacturing, bioscience, and agriculture. Additionally, the South Dakota: Dream it. Do it. campaign supports career awareness for students as young as middle school.

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Vocational schools in South Dakota often take 1-2 years to complete, focusing on career-relevant skills in areas like healthcare, construction, and technology. These programs typically incorporate coursework with experiential learning components, giving students hands-on experience in the field.

This guide covers important information for prospective trade school students in South Dakota, including potential careers and salaries for graduates.

FAQ

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

Vocational schools in South Dakota offer career-focused training that prepares students for particular careers. Colleges focus more on academic training in a variety of disciplines. Trade programs typically require fewer credits and take less time to complete than a college degree.

How much does a trade school cost?

Cost varies by program and school, but public technical schools in South Dakota typically cost around $120-$320 per credit.

What are examples of vocational jobs?

Examples of vocational jobs include paramedic, cosmetologist, auto mechanic, carpenter, and electrician.

What are the different types of trade schools?

Both public and private schools offer trade programs. Some schools may focus on a specific industry, while others may offer diverse programs tailored to a variety of industries.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

When researching prospective trade schools in South Dakota, students should verify a school's accreditation and licensure status. The South Dakota Secretary of State licenses vocational and trade schools in the state. Additionally, the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements allows out-of-state educational providers to offer distance-learning opportunities for South Dakota students.

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation generally applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions.

The Higher Learning Commission regionally accredits South Dakota schools. National accreditation typically applies to vocational and trade schools. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges grants national accreditation to 650 vocational and trade schools nationwide.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, only students at accredited institutions 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. Students can learn more about accreditation at Accredited Schools Online.

Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota

This guide ranks the best vocational schools in South Dakota to help students find the right program for their needs.

#1 Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Lake Area Technical College

  • Watertown, SD
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Lake Area Technical College provides 27 associate programs and 13 certificate programs. Learners benefit from flexible enrollment options at the public institution, which includes online enrollment and classes on the Watertown campus. These flexible options help students work while in school.

In the school's career-focused programs, enrollees strengthen industry-specific knowledge and skills. Associate programs incorporate general education classes that strengthen writing, communication, and other soft skills. Instead of general education courses, certificate candidates complete classes related to their field.

Professionals apply for positions in their field with a certificate. With an associate degree, graduates either pursue employment or transfer into a bachelor's program.

Lake Area Technical College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 10

Total Online Certificate Programs: 5

Undergrad Tuition In State: $2,904

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $2,904

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,904
Out-of-state
$2,904
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,228
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Southeast Technical Institute

  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Southeast Technical Institute lets learners choose from 39 associate programs and 17 certificate programs. Students choose from online and on-campus courses offered from the public school's Sioux Falls campus. Busy enrollees benefit from the school's flexible options, which make it easier to work while in college.

The school's career-focused programs train learners for specialized careers. Associate programs incorporate general education courses to build transferable skills like critical thinking and writing. Certificate candidates complete courses in their field of study without general education requirements.

With a certificate, graduates can pursue entry-level positions in their field. After an associate degree, graduates can apply for jobs or continue their education at the bachelor's level.

Southeast Technical Institute at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 8

Total Online Certificate Programs: 3

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,146

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,146

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,146
Out-of-state
$3,146
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,380
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Mitchell Technical Institute

  • Mitchell, SD
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

At Mitchell Technical Institute, students advance their education in 31 associate programs and 16 certificate programs. Learners select from online and on-campus courses offered by the public institution from its location in Mitchell. Working professionals benefit from the flexibility to attend school without leaving their job.

Many of the school's certificate and associate programs emphasize industry-specific skills that prepare graduates for a particular career path. In associate programs, degree-seekers strengthen transferable skills during general education classes. Instead of general education courses, certificate candidates take courses in their field of study.

Professionals can apply for entry-level roles in their field after completing a certificate. With an associate degree, graduates can apply for jobs or continue their education with a bachelor's degree.

Mitchell Technical Institute at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 4

Total Online Certificate Programs: 3

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,872

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,872

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,872
Out-of-state
$3,872
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,162
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Sisseton Wahpeton College

  • Sisseton, SD
  • 2 years
  • Campus

Sisseton Wahpeton College enrolls students in 10 associate programs and five certificate programs. The public institution offers flexible enrollment options, including online classes and courses offered at the Sisseton campus. The flexible course options make it easier for students to work while pursuing a certificate or degree.

In the school's career-focused programs, learners gain industry-specific skills. General education classes in associate programs strengthen transferable skills like critical thinking and writing. Instead of general education classes, certificate candidates complete a focused curriculum in their area of study.

With a certificate, graduates can enter the workforce prepared for many entry-level roles. After earning an associate degree, graduates can pursue employment or apply to bachelor's programs as a transfer student.

Sisseton Wahpeton College at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: Data not available

Total Online Certificate Programs: Data not available

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,850

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,850

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,850
Out-of-state
$3,850
Retention Rate
34%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
119
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Vocational Trade Schools in South Dakota [2022 Guide]

Western Dakota Technical Institute

  • Rapid City, SD
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

At Western Dakota Technical Institute, learners can choose from 24 associate programs and 23 certificate programs. From its main campus in Rapid City, the public institution provides flexible enrollment options. Working students benefit from the flexible course options.

The school's career-focused programs provide the knowledge and skills required for specialized roles. In associate programs, degree-seekers take general education courses that strengthen critical thinking and writing skills. Certificate candidates take courses in their area of study rather than general education courses.

Professionals can apply for positions in their field with a certificate. After earning an associate degree, graduates can enter the workforce or transfer into a bachelor's program.

Western Dakota Technical Institute at a Glance:

Admission Rate: Data not available

Total Online Associate Programs: 3

Total Online Certificate Programs: 5

Undergrad Tuition In State: $3,630

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $3,630

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,630
Out-of-state
$3,630
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,214
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

According to the U.S. Census, more than 359,000 South Dakota residents reported working in 2018, with the labor force comprising 68.1% of the population 16 years old and older. Manufacturing, bioscience, and value-added agriculture comprise the top industries in the state.

Vocational schools in South Dakota often tailor their programs to the needs of regional employers. Many schools use the expertise of industry leaders to refine their curriculum. This input ensures graduates attain the skills that prospective employers are looking for.

Trade school students in South Dakota can choose from a variety of in-demand careers. For example, Projections Central projects jobs for paramedics and emergency medical technicians in South Dakota to grow more than 7% between 2018 and 2028. Meanwhile, jobs for dental hygienists in the state are projected to grow more than 10% in the same time period.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Students can choose from a variety of trade and vocational schools that prepare them for roles in areas such as allied health, technology, and the skilled trades. The following list outlines several of many types of trade schools in South Dakota.

Dental Hygienist Schools

Dental hygienists work under the supervision of dentists, cleaning teeth, assessing oral health, and educating patients on dental hygiene. Projections Central projects jobs for dental hygienists in South Dakota to grow 10.6% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earn an annual mean wage of $62,560 in South Dakota.

Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree. During a dental hygienist program, learners study topics like dental anatomy, radiography, and oral pathology. They also complete clinical training to gain hands-on experience in the field.

After graduation, students must apply for licensure from the South Dakota Board of Dentistry. To receive licensure, students must have attended a program accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Find accredited dental hygienist schools at Accredited Schools Online.

Mechanic Schools

Auto mechanics provide maintenance and repair services to keep cars and trucks operating at peak efficiency. Projections Central projects jobs for auto mechanics in South Dakota to grow 5.2% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earn a mean salary of $41,240 in the state.

Mechanic schools combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on skills. Many schools set their program up to mirror a real-world work setting. Students learn how each of the automotive systems function, such as the transmission and drivelines, HVAC system, and suspension and braking. Students also learn to diagnose issues using both observational skills and technology. Most programs require one year to complete.

Many employers seek mechanics with industry certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Learn more about accredited mechanic programs here.

Paralegal Schools

Paralegals work under the supervision of licensed attorneys. They conduct legal research, file court documents, interview clients and witnesses, and assist with case management. Jobs for paralegals in South Dakota are projected to grow 9.6% between 2018 and 2028. Paralegals in the state earned a mean annual salary of $49,130 in 2019.

Paralegals must earn a relevant associate degree and complete on-the-job training. Though South Dakota does not require licensing for paralegals, numerous professional organizations offer professional credentials that certify paralegal knowledge and experience, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants, National Federation of Paralegal Associations, National Association for Legal Professionals, and American Alliance of Paralegals.

Learn more about accredited paralegal schools here.

Radiology Technician Schools

Radiology technicians operate medical imaging equipment. Jobs for radiology technicians in South Dakota are projected to grow 8.7% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earn a mean salary of $53,210 in the state. They may work in hospitals, ancillary imaging centers, or physicians' offices.

These professionals typically need an associate degree. Some radiology technician schools offer specializations in areas such as mammography, bone densitometry, magnetic resonance, and computed tomography.

Many professionals seek national certification from the American Registry of Radiology Technicians, which requires an exam and skills assessment. Learn more about accredited radiology technician programs here.

Financial Aid for Trade School Students

Vocational schools in South Dakota typically cost much less than four-year programs, but they still require a significant financial investment. Students can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education, such as loans, scholarships, and grants.

To qualify for federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA every year. The application opens each October, and students should complete it as soon as possible to maximize their financial assistance. However, only students at accredited programs qualify for federal aid.

Unlike loans, grants and scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. Students can take advantage of a variety of federal grants, such as the Federal Pell Grant, which determines awards based on financial need and enrollment status. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant assists students who need additional help beyond the Pell Grant.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

The list below offers a sample of scholarships available to trade school students in South Dakota. Students can research additional scholarship opportunities based on factors like industry, identity, and financial need.

Build Dakota

Who Can Apply: Students pursuing training in high-need fields may apply for the Build Dakota program, which provides full funding for tuition, books, and other required education expenses. Recipients must commit to working in South Dakota for at least three years after graduation.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Construction Industry Center

Who Can Apply: Dependents of owners or employees of Construction Industry Center member firms planning to attend an accredited college or trade school qualify for this award. The committee considers community service, school activities, and academic achievement when determining recipients.
Amount: $500-$1,000

Apply for Scholarship

South Dakota Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors

Who Can Apply: High school seniors and college freshmen planning to pursue a career in plumbing, heating, and cooling may apply for this annual award. A member of the association must sponsor the applicant. Applicants must submit an essay.
Amount: $500-$1,000

Apply for Scholarship

South Dakota Telecommunications Association

Who Can Apply: High school seniors and postsecondary students currently enrolled in any field related to the telecommunications or broadband industry qualify for the award. Applicants must be a customer or member of a company in the association.
Amount: $2,000

Apply for Scholarship

South Dakota Association for Career & Technical Education

Who Can Apply: High school and postsecondary students active in career and technical education student organizations may apply for this award. The award supports study at any South Dakota technical institute or college.
Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium – South Dakota

Comprehensive resource for CTE students with state statistics, education delivery options, available programs of study, and financial aid information.

South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Find the latest news related to the agriculture industry in the state, as well as job postings, resources, and events such as meetings and conferences.

South Dakota Nurses Association

Members gain access to networking opportunities, professional development, job postings in the state, and resources for nurses of all levels.

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