Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

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Why Choose Trade School?

Trade schools in Virginia offer career-focused training in high-demand fields like healthcare, the skilled trades, personal care, and hospitality. Graduates can pursue jobs like medical assistant, dental hygienist, mechanic, and electrician.

During a vocational program, students complete classroom and experiential learning requirements. For example, electrician students typically apply classroom learning during a laboratory or practicum, gaining hands-on experience in the field.

Vocational programs offer several benefits compared to four-year programs. For instance, earning a vocational certificate or degree typically takes 1-2 years, meaning students can complete their training faster than students in four-year programs. Professionals with an occupational credential also benefit from a higher employment rate than those with an academic credential, according to 2009 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Many vocational and tech schools in Virginia offer self-paced or accelerated options to fit the schedule of busy students. Learners can also choose an online program to maximize flexibility.

Our list ranks the best vocational schools in Virginia to help prospective students find the right program for their needs. This page also provides career and salary data for trade school occupations, introduces popular vocational programs, and lists scholarship opportunities for trade school students in Virginia.

Top 10 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia


  • What do trade schools offer?

    Trade schools offer a blend of classroom and hands-on training to prepare graduates for the workforce. A vocational certificate or degree generally takes 1-2 years to complete.

  • How much does a trade school cost?

    The cost of trade school varies depending on the institution. In general, community colleges cost less than four-year institutions. Trade school students can pursue financial aid opportunities to help pay for their education.

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

    Trade schools provide career-oriented training to prepare students for specific career paths, while colleges focus more on providing academic training in diverse disciplines. However, many colleges offer vocational programs.

  • Can trade school credits transfer?

    Yes, trade school credits often transfer to other institutions. Generally, credits earned from a regionally accredited institution are most likely to transfer.

Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools

Prospective trade school students should always research a school’s accreditation and licensing status before submitting an application. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students. Colleges and universities must undergo a rigorous review from an independent accrediting agency to earn accreditation. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the school’s student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic mission. Learn more about the accreditation process here.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For example, 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 may hold regional or national accreditation. Community colleges and four-year universities typically hold regional accreditation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits schools in Virginia.

Trade and vocational schools in Virginia may hold national accreditation from a specialized agency like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, which accredits over 650 trade and technical schools nationwide. Other accrediting agencies include the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which accredits online schools. Accrediting agencies should hold approval from the Department of Education.

Postsecondary institutions should also hold a state license to operate. The State Council of Education for Virginia provides a list of approved public and private institutions in the state.

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Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Trade schools in Virginia provide career-focused training for growing fields like healthcare, industrial technology, legal services, and the skilled trades. By choosing a top-ranked vocational program, professionals can advance their education and increase their earning potential in just 1-2 years. This section introduces the best vocational schools in Virginia.

  1. Thomas Nelson Community College

    Hampton, VA



    TNCC features 18 online degrees and certificates in subjects such as cybersecurity for enterprise, general education, and management. Students complete programs asynchronously and gain access to free tutoring resources. Learners who live near this vocational school in Virginia's Hampton or Williamsburg campus can enroll in a shipbuilding apprenticeship program.

    TNCC's Career Services (CS) advisors host career workshops, career networking events, and job fairs. Online services include career assessments and resume assistance. The CS website also provides links to career guides and job boards that focus on Virginia career opportunities.

    Applicants complete an eight-step admissions process that involves individual advising, submitting high school or GED transcripts, and finishing new student orientation. Active-duty military personnel pay the in-state tuition rate. Students who maintain a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA can apply for institutional scholarships.

  2. Virginia Western Community College

    Roanoke, VA



    VWCC offers more than 400 online courses each semester, allowing most students to earn a degree in a hybrid format. Fully only associate degrees include management, visual design, and social sciences-education. VWCC also plans to launch an apprenticeship program for learners interested in an IT, construction, finance, or hospitality career.

    The college's Hall Associates Career Center (HACC) features many 24/7 online resources that include the College Central Network job board, Career Spots advice videos, and Big Interview mock interview software. HACC also maintains social media accounts that post job trends and career-hunting best practices.

    Prospective students can apply online or in person. VWCC does not offer a per-semester tuition rate to full-time degree- and certificate-seekers, and out-of-state learners pay twice the in-state rate. However, all students can apply for a $500-$2,000 Foundational Scholarship regardless of residency or enrollment status.

  3. Tidewater Community College

    Norfolk, VA



    TCC's online programs include associate degrees in accounting, criminal justice, and business administration. This tech school in Virginia also offers numerous online certificates in areas such as land surveying and law enforcement. TCC features apprenticeship opportunities in six fields. Although apprentices do not receive a salary, apprenticeship programs do not charge tuition.

    On the TCC Career Services (CS) website, students and alumni can join the Career Success Network, a free job and internship board. Learners can also meet with counselors virtually to discuss resume-writing best practices. CS also offers virtual workshops that convey essential interview and networking skills.

    Admission steps include placement testing and new student orientation. Out-of-state learners who work for a TCC business partner receive a tuition discount. The Our Opportunities website features hundreds of institutional and private scholarship opportunities.

  4. Northern Virginia Community College

    Annandale, VA



    NOVA offers 18 online associate degrees in fields such as accounting, business administration, and social sciences . Virtual career studies certificates impart in-demand early childhood development and information systems technology skills. Aspiring cybersecurity and cloud computing workers should research NOVA's apprenticeship opportunities.

    The college's Career Services (CS) professionals help learners create career goals, explore job opportunities, and hone vital job-hunting skills. NOVA's online career videos discuss over a dozen topics, such as writing a compelling resume and preparing for a career fair. Additionally, the CS website features links to employment opportunities in the Arlington and Alexandria areas.

    Like many other vocational schools in Virginia, prospective undergraduates must submit high school or GED diplomas. Other admission steps include placement testing and speaking with an academic advisor. NOVA offers multiple financial aid opportunities, and institutional scholarships award $250-$5,000. The college uses four scholarship application windows each year.

  5. Dabney S Lancaster Community College

    Clifton Forge, VA



    At DSLCC, on-campus undergraduates can earn a degree or certificates in one of 14 academic fields, such as business, community education, and forestry and agriculture. Learners can also enroll in a construction and manufacturing apprenticeship. This vocational school in Virginia also offers dozens of online personal enrichment courses through ed2go.

    DSLCC's Academic and Career Advising department helps degree- and certificate-seekers select courses, craft a career plan, and explore transfer opportunities. Learners can work one-on-one or in a small group with a career advisor. The college provides mock interviewing and soft skills workshops. First-generation and economically disadvantaged students can access specialized resources.

    High school upperclassmen can take advantage of concurrent enrollment. The admissions process for freshmen includes FAFSA results and the Virginia Placement Test. Finally, the DSLCC Educational Foundation Scholarships awards $250-$5,000 to eligible students.

  6. New River Community College

    Dublin, VA



    NRCC's distance-education opportunities include associate degrees in general studies, science, and administrative support technology with a specialization in medical administrative support. Registered apprenticeship programs provide learners with over 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. This trade school in Virginia also awards career studies certificates in areas such as paralegal assistant and cost accounting clerk.

    Career Services (CS) advisors offer students and alumni multiple virtual resources that include self-assessments, major resource kits, and information on thousands of career paths. Other services include one-on-one training sessions that cover soft skills and business writing fundamentals. Learners can also download resume and cover letter templates on the CS website.

    The application process for prospective freshmen includes high school or GED diplomas. Applicants can also submit standardized test scores. NRCC awards credit for satisfactory AP scores. New degree-seekers may qualify for up to $1,500 in aid through the NRCC Educational Foundation.

  7. John Tyler Community College

    Chester, VA



    Prospective students planning to transfer to a bachelor's-completion program should consider JTCC. This tech school in Virginia offers online transfer degrees in multiple subjects, including secondary teacher education, health sciences, and psychology. On-campus learning opportunities include the PEER Consortium, an apprenticeship program that trains aspiring Virginia public school educators.

    The JTCC Career Services (CS) website provides information on jobs and internships, interviewing and networking tips, and career planning guides. CS also links students to the latest Virginia state employment data and allows all learners to sign up for a virtual counseling appointment. Degree-seekers who live near JTCC's Chester campus can receive one set of professional clothes at no charge.

    Applicants create an online account, submit relevant documents, and complete new student orientation. Eligible learners may qualify for a tuition payment plan or military benefits. Additionally, students who maintain a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA can apply for a Foundation Scholarship.

  8. J Sargeant Reynolds Community College

    Richmond, VA



    Reynolds offers over a dozen fully online associate degrees in areas such as business administration, early childhood development, and social sciences. Career-focused online certificates train future medical technologists and entrepreneurs. The college also offers a culinary and hospitality apprenticeship program that educates aspiring chefs.

    This vocational school in Virginia provides degree- and certificate-seekers with many essential career and transfer resources, such as self-discovery guides, career exploration websites, and a personalized care plan. Transfer learners can use the Career and Transfer Services website to explore four-year Virginia colleges and information regarding on-campus college transfer days.

    Reynolds does not charge an admissions fee. Students can apply online or through the mail. Other application requirements may apply depending on applicants' academic and personal backgrounds. Some of the college's scholarship opportunities award up to $4,000. Students submit only one financial aid application to apply for all aid packages.

  9. Germanna Community College

    Locust Grove, VA



    Germanna's on-campus associate degrees include options in the health science, humanities and arts, and IT and technical studies fields. Virtual learners can select from 10 fully online credential programs that include QuickBooks for small business and OSHA for construction/general industry. This vocational school in Virginia also offers 12 apprenticeship programs with plans to add four more.

    Students can access career assessment, exploration, and preparation resources on Germanna's Career Services (CS) website. CS also offers links to the best job-search websites, including Indeed and Virginia View. Additionally, learners can find other resources by creating a College Central Network account.

    Prospective students can attend a virtual group information session that covers admission requirements and different academic programs. Out-of-state online learners pay less on tuition than on-campus nonresident students.

  10. Paul D Camp Community College

    Franklin, VA



    Students living in and around PDCCC's three Virginia campuses can earn an associate degree in one of eight academic fields, including education, public safety, and general studies/transfer. Transfer learners can choose from four degrees. PDCCC also features a welding program, and learners who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA can start an apprenticeship with RepairTech LLC.

    This trade school in Virginia offers career coaching to not just students and alumni but also local high school learners. The PDCCC Career Research and Resources website features a multistep plan emphasizing self-assessments, the importance of internships, and researching different industries.

    Applicants create a Virginia's Community Colleges account before submitting high school or GED transcripts. Active-duty military personnel pay the in-state tuition rate regardless of location. Other financial aid programs include institutional scholarships for transfer learners and recent high school graduates.

Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Virginia

Virginia secondary and postsecondary students can pursue vocational and trade programs through a variety of settings, like comprehensive high schools, technical high schools, career centers, and community colleges.

Students can use the following tool to find career and technical programs in Virginia.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Many vocational careers offer strong demand. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects much faster-than-average job growth for dental hygienists, HVAC technicians, and paralegals between 2018 and 2028.

On average, trade school occupations pay around $55,000 per year. However, salaries vary by factors like experience and industry. For example, personal care professions often pay below-average salaries, while management trade school occupations pay over $96,000 per year, on average.

Salaries also vary by location. According to the BLS, paralegals in Virginia earn around $52,500 per year, on average, while occupational therapy assistants make over $68,000 annually. Meanwhile, dental hygienists earn over $79,000 per year, while electricians earn around $54,500 per year. Prospective trade school students can research the earning potential in their specific field to learn more.

What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?

Trade school programs prepare graduates for careers in healthcare, the skilled trades, and other growing fields. This section introduces popular vocational programs, including salary data and licensing requirements. In addition to the following options, prospective students can research vocational programs in other fields.

  • Dental Hygienist Schools

    Dental hygienists work under the supervision of dentists, conducting oral examinations and cleaning teeth. They look for signs of oral disease, provide preventive treatments, and educate
    patients about oral health. Dental hygienists must report their findings to dentists.

    Most dental hygienists hold an associate degree. During an associate program, students complete coursework in areas like anatomy, periodontics, and oral hygiene. Students also complete clinical
    training to build patient care skills.

    After completing the degree, dental hygienists must apply for a state license to practice. The Virginia Board of Dentistry
    licenses dental hygienists in Virginia. In 2019, dental hygienists earned an annual median salary of $76,220,
    with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

    Learn more about dental hygienist programs.

  • Mechanic Schools

    Mechanics, also known as automotive service technicians, inspect and repair cars and trucks. They identify problems using diagnostic equipment, repair and replace parts, and perform maintenance
    on vehicles. They must also explain repairs to clients.

    Automotive technology degree and certificate programs prepare graduates for mechanic jobs. During the program, students may gain specialized training in areas like engine repair, brake systems,
    or electronic systems. Many schools also offer general automotive repair programs. Students also complete hands-on training through a laboratory or practicum.

    Mechanics can pursue specialty certification from an organization like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to demonstrate
    their skills. The median annual pay for mechanics exceeded
    $42,000 in 2019.

    Learn more about mechanic programs.

  • Paralegal Schools

    Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting legal research and drafting documents like contracts. They may also investigate the facts of a case, take affidavits and formal statements, and arrange
    evidence for attorney review. Many paralegals specialize in an area like corporate law or litigation.

    Many vocational schools in Virginia offer paralegal studies degree or certificate programs. During a paralegal studies program, students take classes in areas like contract law, legal writing,
    and legal research. Paralegals do not need to hold a license to practice, but some paralegals pursue professional certification to demonstrate their skills.

    The BLS reports that paralegals earned a median annual pay of over $51,000 in 2019, with much
    faster-than-average projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

    Learn more about paralegal studies programs.

  • Radiology Technician Schools

    Radiology technicians capture diagnostic images using machines like X-rays. They maintain imaging equipment, prepare patients for procedures, and evaluate image quality. They also maintain
    patient records.

    An associate degree is the entry-level education requirement for radiology technicians. During an associate program, students take courses in areas like radiation physics, anatomy, and image
    evaluation. Students also complete clinical training to gain hands-on skills in the field.

    Radiology technicians need a license from the Virginia Board of Medicine to practice. Many radiology technicians
    also pursue professional certification from The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The BLS reports that
    radiology technicians earned a median annual pay of over $62,000 ini 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 cost of their education through financial aid opportunities, such as loans, grants, and scholarships. To qualify for federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants and work-study programs, students must submit the FAFSA. However, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal aid. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid.

Trade school students can also choose an affordable program to help lower the cost of their education. For example, Virginia public universities charge over $12,500 per year in tuition and fees, on average, while private universities cost more than $23,000 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In contrast, Virginia community colleges charge around $5,000 per year, on average.

Scholarship for Trade School Students

Many private foundations, government agencies, and professional organizations offer scholarships and grants for trade school students. In addition to the following opportunities, students can research scholarships based on factors like their school or field of study.

  • Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant

    Who Can Apply: This grant supports Virginia residents attending eligible private schools as full-time students. Recipients can receive an automatic renewal.
    Amount: $3,400

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Students attending qualifying accredited schools in Virginia can apply for this scholarship. Applicants studying nursing and allied health fields receive preference.
    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship

  • John Randolph Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The John Randolph Foundation offers multiple scholarships for students living in Hopewell, Prince George, and other cities in central Virginia. Application
    requirements vary by scholarship.
    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Leo Bourassa Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Offered by the Virginia Lakes and Watersheds Association, this scholarship supports learners studying fields related to water resources. Applicants must attend an
    accredited college or university in Virginia.
    Amount: $500-$3,000

    Apply for Scholarship

  • Horatio Alger Career & Technical Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship funds students enrolled in a career or technical program at an accredited postsecondary institution. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
    Amount: Up to $2,500

    Apply for Scholarship

Additional Education and Career Resources

  • Virginia Beach Economic Development

    Designed for those interested in doing business in Virginia Beach, the publications offered here are of good use to those who are entering the workforce in the area.

  • Virginia Beach Economic Development

    Designed for those interested in doing business in Virginia Beach, the publications offered here are of good use to those who are entering the workforce in the area.

  • Virginia's CTE Resource Center

    Designed for educators in the vocational and career colleges system, this site also offers information for students who are considering CTE training.

  • Virginia Employment Commission

    The perfect place for students to learn what to expect from their future careers.

Learn More…

Trade and Vocational Schools

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