Why Choose Trade School?
Trade schools in Virginia offer career-focused training in high-demand fields. These fields include healthcare, the skilled trades, personal care, and hospitality. Graduates can pursue jobs like medical assistant, dental hygienist, mechanic, and electrician.
Vocational students complete classroom and experiential learning requirements. For example, electrician students apply classroom learning during laboratories and practicums. This gives them hands-on experience in the field.
Vocational programs offer several benefits compared to four-year programs. Earning a vocational certificate or degree takes 1-2 years. This allows students to complete their training faster than students in four-year programs. Professionals with occupational credentials enjoy higher employment rates than those without such credentials.
Many vocational and tech schools in Virginia offer self-paced or accelerated options. Learners can also choose an online program to maximize flexibility.
We rank the best vocational schools in Virginia to help students find the right program. This page provides career and salary data for trade school jobs. It also introduces popular vocational programs. We cover scholarship opportunities for trade school students in Virginia as well.
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Accreditation and Licensing for Trade Schools
Prospective trade school students should research accreditation and licensing status before applying. Accredited schools meet high standards for educating students. Colleges and universities go through a rigorous review from an independent accrediting agency. During this review, the accrediting agency evaluates student learning outcomes. It also assesses faculty qualifications and academic mission. Learn more about the accreditation process here.
Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid. Many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications call for accredited degrees.
Schools may hold regional or national accreditation. Community colleges and four-year universities usually hold regional accreditation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits schools in Virginia.
Trade and vocational schools in Virginia may hold national accreditation. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges is one national accreditor. This agency 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 lists the state's approved public and private institutions.
Find Vocational and Trade Schools in Virginia
Virginia's secondary and postsecondary students can pursue vocational and trade programs. These programs exist in comprehensive high schools and technical high schools. Career centers and community colleges also offer them.
Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates
Skilled trade salaries differ depending on experience and industry. Wages also vary by location. According to the BLS, paralegals in Virginia earn around $52,500 per year on average. Occupational therapy assistants make over $68,000. Dental hygienists earn over $79,000 per year, while electricians earn around $54,500 per year.
What Kinds of Trade School Programs Are Available?
Trade school programs prepare graduates to work in healthcare and the skilled trades. This section introduces popular vocational programs, including salary data and licensing requirements. Prospective students can research vocational programs in other fields.
Dental hygienists work under dentists' supervision. They conduct oral examinations and cleaning teeth. They look for signs of oral disease and provide preventive treatments. They also 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 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. After completing the degree, dental hygienists must apply for a state license to practice.
The Virginia Board of Dentistry licenses dental hygienists in Virginia. As of 2019, dental hygienists earned an annual median salary of $76,220, with much faster-than-average projected job growth between 2019 and 2029.
Learn more about dental hygienist programs.
Mechanics, also known as automotive service technicians, inspect and repair cars and trucks. They identify problems using diagnostic equipment. They also repair and replace parts and perform maintenance on vehicles. They must explain repairs to clients as well.
Automotive technology degree and certificate programs prepare graduates for mechanic jobs. Students may gain specialized training in engine repair, brake systems, or electronic systems. Many schools offer general automotive repair programs. Students also complete hands-on training through a laboratory or practicum.
Mechanics can earn certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. The median annual pay for mechanics exceeded $42,000 in 2019.
Learn more about mechanic programs.
Paralegals assist lawyers by conducting legal research and drafting documents like contracts. They may also investigate the facts of a case. Paralegals take affidavits and formal statements and arrange evidence for attorney review. Many specialize in areas like corporate law or litigation.
Many vocational schools in Virginia offer paralegal studies degree or certificate programs. Paralegal studies students take classes in contract law, legal writing, and legal research. Paralegals do not need to hold a license to practice. But some pursue professional certification to show their skills.
The BLS reports that paralegals earned a median annual pay of over $51,000 in 2019. The bureau also projected faster-than-average projected job growth from 2018-2029.
Learn more about paralegal studies programs.
Radiology technicians capture diagnostic images using machines like X-rays. They maintain imaging equipment, prepare patients for procedures, and assess image quality. They also maintain patient records.
An associate degree is the required entry-level education for radiology technicians. Associate 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 pursue certification from The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The BLS reports that radiology technicians earned a median annual pay of over $62,000 in 2019. The bureau projected faster-than-average projected job growth between 2019-2029 as well.
Learn more about radiology technician programs.
Financial Aid for Trade School Students
Trade school students can offset the cost of their education through financial aid. Aid may include loans, grants, and scholarships. To qualify for federal financial aid, students must submit the FAFSA. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal aid. Scholarships and grants do not need repayment.
Trade school students can choose an affordable program to help lower education costs. Virginia public universities charge $13,413 per year in tuition and fees, on average. Private universities cost $23,380 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In contrast, Virginia community colleges charge $5,241 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.
Who Can Apply: This grant supports Virginia residents attending eligible private schools as full-time students. Recipients can receive an automatic renewal.
Who Can Apply: Students attending qualifying accredited schools in Virginia can apply for this scholarship. Applicants studying nursing and allied health fields receive preference.
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.
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.
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
Additional Education and Career Resources
As completing a degree or certificate program seems to become a requirement for more and more industries, check out our guide to trade and vocational schools to explore your options when it comes to industry-specific vocational trainings and certificate programs.
Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia
Trade schools in Virginia provide career-focused training for growing fields. These areas include healthcare, industrial technology, legal services, and the skilled trades. Top-ranked vocational programs help professionals advance their education and increase their earning potential. Plus, they only take 1-2 years to complete. This section introduces the best vocational schools in Virginia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.