Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Updated October 27, 2022

In general, community colleges cost less than four-year institutions. Trade school students can pursue financial aid.

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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.

FAQ

Q. What do trade schools offer?

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

Q. 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 to help pay for their education.

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

Trade schools provide career-oriented training to prepare students for specific career paths. Colleges focus on providing academic training in diverse disciplines. Many colleges offer vocational programs.

Q. Can trade school credits transfer?

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

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.

#1 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Thomas Nelson Community College

  • Hampton, VA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Thomas Nelson Community College, a public institution, provides a variety of programs suitable for in-person and online study. 

Whether in person or online, enrollees benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees complete advanced and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their field of study. Candidates can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as internships and externships.

Learners at the college can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities and determine eligibility. The institution connects students with a variety of funding options, with 63% of all enrollees receiving aid. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,680
Out-of-state
$9,978
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
7,314
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Virginia Western Community College

  • Roanoke, VA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Virginia Western Community College, a public college located in Roanoke, supports educational opportunities for learners of all levels. 

Students in either degree modality benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. While enrolled, candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework in their subject area. Degree-seekers can further their learning through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships.

Learners can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Degree-seekers can connect with the financial aid office to explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Typically, 83% of all admitted students receive financial aid awards. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,680
Out-of-state
$9,978
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,303
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Tidewater Community College

  • Norfolk, VA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Norfolk, Tidewater Community College offers a variety of college-level programs to diverse learners. 

Online and on-campus learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. Enrollees complete general and subject-specific coursework throughout their program. Participants can explore collaborative opportunities throughout the duration of their program, including faculty-led research projects, internships, and professional activities.

Enrollees can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Students can meet with financial aid associates to explore funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships. The institution discloses that 73% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid. The college boasts a 24% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,680
Out-of-state
$9,978
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
19,064
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Northern Virginia Community College

  • Annandale, VA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Northern Virginia Community College is an Annandale-based institution providing college-level degrees to learners near and far. 

Students benefit from skilled faculty and a supportive learning community, whether in person or online. While enrolled, learners complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Learners can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies. Learners can connect with the financial aid office to explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Applicants should know that 59% of all enrollees receive financial aid. The college boasts a 27% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,412
Out-of-state
$10,790
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
51,822
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Vocational Trade Schools in Virginia

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College

  • Clifton Forge, VA
  • 2 years
  • Campus

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, a public college located in Clifton Forge, supports educational opportunities for learners of all levels. 

Whether in person or online, enrollees benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Degree-seekers complete coursework that covers foundational and advanced topics relevant to their field. Students can further their learning through research projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Enrollees can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their program. Prospective students seeking to fund their studies can meet with the financial aid office to explore scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. The institution connects students with a variety of funding opportunities, with 84% of all enrollees receiving aid. The college reports a 39% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,620
Out-of-state
$9,918
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,032
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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.

Career and Salary Outlook for Trade School Graduates

Many vocational careers enjoy strong demand. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects strong job growth for dental hygienists, HVAC technicians, and paralegals from 2019-2029.

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 Hygienist Schools

    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.

  • Mechanic Schools

    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.

  • Paralegal Schools

    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.

  • Radiology Technician Schools

    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.

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.

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


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


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


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


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

Additional Education and Career Resources

These publications suit those interested in doing business in Virginia Beach. They may help those who are entering the workforce in the area. This site helps educators in the vocational and career colleges system. It also offers information for students who are considering CTE training.

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

More and more industries are calling for degrees or certificates. Our guide explores industry-specific vocational trainings and certificate programs.

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.

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