The 20 Best Online
Vocational Training Schools

When it comes to choosing a career path, where to go for post-secondary education is one of the key decisions to make. Most people opt for earning a bachelor’s degree in a regular university because it is the most reputable education track. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Trade schools or vocational schools take less time to graduate and usually offer high-quality education. These institutions are particularly beneficial for people who want to pursue a career in certain trades, such as auto repair, air traffic control, or even plumbing.

If you fall into this category and are interested in knowing the best online trade schools, read on. We have compiled an extensive guide that reveals the key details you need to know about.

What Is a Trade School?

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A trade school is an institution that prepares students for a particular trade, such as graphic design, nursing, or paralegal studies. Most programs take from one to two years, depending on their difficulty. You can earn associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates at many trade schools.

Another difference between vocational schools and traditional colleges is the tuition cost. According to a recent report published by The College Board, the national average price of a four-year university goes from $10,560 to $37,650 per year, depending on your residency status and whether the school is public or private.

Trade school programs, on the other hand, cost $3,770 annually on average. In its report, The College Board classifies trade schools as public two-year institutions.

Why You Should Pursue Vocational Training Online

There are many reasons to choose a vocational school. It will all depend on your perspective. Trade schools are usually cheaper than traditional education, which means instead of investing between $10,000 and $40,000 on a bachelor’s degree, you can spend about $3,770 annually and continue with your lifestyle.

Another reason to consider it is because it is a shorter career path. You will spend fewer years in a trade school program compared to a four-year bachelor’s degree. You should also keep in mind that many roles, like mechanics or electricians, require you to go through vocational school to become a practitioner.

The following table contains general information about the best online trade schools, including tuition costs and top programs. Everything was collected from each institution’s website.

Quick Facts About the 20 Best Online Trade Schools

School Name Average Tuition Top Programs
Ashland Community and
Technical College
$5,733 Business Administration, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts
Big Sandy Community and
Technical College
$5,398 Community Dental Health Coordinator, Construction, Computer-Aided Drafting and Design
Colby Community College $8,815 Wind Technology, Veterinary Office Assistant, Solar Photovoltaic
College of The Albemarle $5,401 Computer Integrated Machining, Agribusiness Technology, Aviation Systems Technology
Craven Community College $7,809 Welding Technology, Manufacturing Technology, Esthetics Technology
Frank Phillips College $6,905 Cosmetology, Commercial Wiring, Welding Technology
Georgia Piedmont
Technical College
$6,259 Pipe Welding, Computer System Design, Air Conditioning Electrical Technician
Hazard Community and
Technical College
$6,044 Surveying and Mapping Technology, Automotive Technology, Heavy Equipment Operations
Hopkinsville Community College $5,556 Diesel Technology, Construction Technology, Registered Nurse
Jefferson Community and
Technical College
$6,376 Heating and Air Conditioning Technology, Plumbing Technology, Welding Technology
Lenoir Community College $5,021 Mechanical Engineering Technology, Automotive Systems Technology, Welding Technology
Maysville Community and
Technical College
$5,793 Culinary Arts, Welding Technology, Industrial Maintenance Technology
Nashville State Community College $6,168 Mechatronics, Hospitality Management, Industrial Maintenance
North Central Missouri College $8,131 Applied Technology, Agricultural Operations Technology, Industrial Technology
Owensboro Community and
Technical College
$5,883 Electrical Technology, Healthcare Facilities Leadership, Automotive Technology
Riverland Community College $9,472 Automotive Service Technology, Web Developer
Somerset Community College $5,481 Aviation Maintenance Technology, Construction Technology, Air Conditioning Technology
Southcentral Kentucky Community
and Technical College
$6,435 Air Conditioning Technology, Automotive Technology, Business Administration Systems
Technical College of the Lowcountry $8,429 Plumbing, Engineering Surveying, Civil Design
Western Texas College $6,406 Electrical Lineman Technology, Welding, Petroleum Technology
The 20 Best Online Trade Schools to Launch Your Career

The 20 Best Online Trade Schools to Launch Your Career

This guide contains 20 of the best online trade schools based on the price, variety of programs, and quality of education. Check the following list to learn more details about the schools.

Ashland Community and Technical College

The Ashland Community and Technical College offers study programs in 14 diverse fields. If you’re looking for courses in business administration, cosmetology, and the culinary arts, this college has got you covered.

This school welcomes 2,500 students each year and is known for its online programs. Located in Ashland, the college is also part of the Kentucky Virtual Adult Education (KYVAE) initiative.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College

The Big Sandy Community and Technical College is located in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. It was established in 2004, and today it offers nearly 30 programs. Programs included in its catalog include Community Dental Health Coordinator, Construction, and Computer-Aided Drafting and Design.

The school is a good choice for people looking to earn a college degree or a trade certificate.

Colby Community College

This school, which was founded in 1964, now offers more than 50 programs in seven different areas of study. Some of the topics you can study at this school include allied health, wind technology, and solar photovoltaic technology.

This institution is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and students can earn associate degrees and technical certificates. Colby Community College is considered one of the best vocational schools, based on its education standards and its wide variety of courses.

College of The Albemarle

The College of Albemarle is authorized by the North Carolina Community College System to provide both vocational certificates and associate degrees. It was founded in 1960 and now has more than 2,500 students each year.

Some of the subjects you can study at this school include marine diesel engine repair, computer integrated machining, and aviation systems technology. The school is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Craven Community College

Craven Community College is a school that waves off more than 3,000 graduates each year. It was founded in 1965 and now offers programs in 12 different fields. You can choose from welding technology, manufacturing technology, and computer-aided drafting, among many others.

This school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and it has become one of the best trade schools in America. It is located in North Carolina and offers an online version for most programs.

Frank Phillips College

This is one of the smallest, yet highly reputable, schools on our list. It offers programs such as cosmetology and welding technology. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits FPC to provide these services. You can find this school’s campus in Borger, Texas, or study online through its remote programs.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

This Georgia-based school offers more than 100 degree programs and 17 vocational certificates, including Pipe Welding, Computer System Design, and Air Conditioning Electrical Technician. This school offers both in-person or remote training.

Hazard Community and Technical College

This Kentucky-based school offers 32 programs, including both associate degrees and technical certificates. It is a member of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Around 3,000 students graduate from Hazard every year.

Hopkinsville Community College

This school has over 28 programs to choose from. If you’re interested in massage therapy, nursing, or early childhood education, this is a good college to consider. You can also attain an Associate Degree in Nursing here too.

Jefferson Community and Technical College

JCTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to provide more than 50 programs. Programs offered include heating and air conditioning technology, plumbing technology, and welding technology.

The college has risen to become one of the most popular and affordable vocational schools in the country. This is in part due to its flexible scheduling options and remote learning offerings. More than 11,000 students gain qualifications from Jefferson every year.

Lenoir Community College

This Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission-accredited school offers more than 16 programs in different fields. Interested in public safety, healthcare, or fine arts? Then you should consider Lenoir Community College.

Each program requires about two years of time commitment, and the school offers a hybrid study plan. This means you can either study in-person, online, or combine both.

Maysville Community and Technical College

Maysville Community and Technical College (MCTC) was founded in 2004. Today, it offers around 25 programs in diverse fields such as fire/rescue science technology, criminal justice, and culinary arts. This institution is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

This school offers both associate degrees and vocational certificates, which require two years of study. You have the option of studying online or at the MCTC campus located in Maysville, Kentucky.

Nashville State Community College

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has authorized this school to offer more than 10 vocational programs such as Mechatronics, Hospitality Management, and Industrial Maintenance. More than 8,000 students graduate from here every year.

North Central Missouri College

This Missouri-based college provides over 12, two-year vocational programs in different fields like applied technology, agricultural operations technology, and industrial technology. The NCMC was founded in 1925 and now 2,000 students graduate annually.

This school is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers diplomas, associate degrees, and technical certificates. You can choose to either study online or on-site.

Owensboro Community and Technical College

OCTC has a strong technical program offering with over 20 programs to choose from. These include electrical technology and automotive technology. This institution works directly with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer diplomas and vocational certificates.

Riverland Community College

Riverland Community College offers tech-related programs for aspiring web designers, digital marketers, and computer programmers. This school is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and offers both in-person and online education.

This school, located in Minnesota, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award associate degrees and technical certificates.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College in Kentucky is known for its 15 certificate programs. These include Aviation Maintenance Technology, Construction Technology, and Air Conditioning Technology. This school hosts around 6,000 students each year, either studying on campus or online.

Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College

This is also a Kentucky-based school that is part of the Community and Technical College System. Founded in 1939, the college now offers more than 12 online programs.

If you are interested in gaining qualifications in air conditioning technology, automotive technology, and business administration systems, this college should be on your consideration list.

Technical College of the Lowcountry

Founded in 1868, the Technical College of the Lowcountry is one of the oldest colleges on our list. The college has an impressive roster of study programs, numbering over 90. You can find plumbing, engineering surveying, and civil design certificate options here. In addition, there are more than 100 online courses you can take.

This institution is officially authorized by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer these types of programs. This school is located in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Western Texas College

Students at Western Texas College can choose from 20 fields of study, including Agriculture Operations and Computer and Information Sciences. The school also offers a wide range of associate degree study programs covering subjects including welding and petroleum technology.

If you decide on this college, you will be joining over 2,000 students who graduate every year. This Texas-based institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Types of Online Vocational Training Programs

Types of Online Vocational Training Programs

There are four types of trade training programs: certificate, certification prep, apprenticeship, and associate degree. Below, you will see what each program has to offer and how you can benefit from them.


An apprenticeship is a paid job training program that prepares you to become a professional in a particular trade. You can enroll in an apprenticeship program from the age of 16 and polish your skills while still being paid.

Certification Preparation

A certification preparation program is designed to help you pass an examination test to obtain a license in a particular field. For example, you can attend a license preparation course to develop the skills you need to get a credential as an air traffic controller.

Associate Degree

An associate degree program is an entry-level educational path that gives you the skills you need to work in a certain field. This type of program usually lasts around two years and doesn’t include general education training. According to ZipRecruiter, associate degree holders earn salaries of nearly $46,000 on average.


A certificate is a document or credential that validates the conclusion of a certain program. Many trades require you to have a certificate from an accredited school to start working in the field.

Choosing the Right Vocational Program

To choose the best vocational program, you should consider certain factors that will determine whether it is the right match or not. Some of the key things to consider include the financial options available, the graduation outcomes, and job placement assistance.

Financial Options

Trade schools aren’t free but they’re certainly inexpensive compared to traditional education programs. However, it is always important to know the financing options available. Check if the school offers student loans or scholarships.

Job Placement Assistance

Another decisive factor to consider is whether the school offers job placement assistance. This has become more common in the vocational school space. However, it is important to confirm with the school in advance to secure your post-graduation future.

Graduation Rate

Having a high graduation rate is a positive indicator of the school’s education quality and staff efficiency. If the school has a low graduation rate, it may indicate that the institution has poor performance.

Top Trade Careers

Although there is a wide variety of subjects you can find at trade schools, some are more in demand and offer high-paying jobs. Below you can see some of them.


An electrician is a dedicated man or woman who maintains or installs electrical systems. According to Indeed, the average electrician earns around $55,000 per year.


A plumber is a tradesman that installs, repairs, and maintains plumbing systems. They also work by installing home supplies like refrigerators, pipes, or toilets. Plumbers make around $56,330 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Practical Nurse

A practical nurse is a healthcare professional who is responsible for tasks such as inserting catheters, checking blood pressure, and bathing patients. They also monitor a patient’s health and keep the attending doctors up to date.

Respiratory Therapist

A respiratory therapist (RT) is a professional in the healthcare industry with a focus on breathing difficulties. An RT may have to deal with intubation ventilators, oxygen masks, and nebulizers. They will also be trained in CPR should an emergency arise.

IT Technician

An information technology specialist is someone whose responsibility is to ensure the proper functioning of a company’s computer systems. They diagnose issues and maintain and repair networks.

Vocational Training Resources

Before choosing a school, it’s important to know the associations and organizations that support vocational training. We’ve listed the relevant resources you should know about when pursuing a trade career.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

SACSCC is an organization that validates whether a school is capable of providing higher education or not. This regional institution works in the southern area of the US, covering states like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Higher Learning Commission

The Higher Learning Commission is another regional accreditor in the United States that validates a school’s ability to provide post-secondary education. This institution works in the central area of the country, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Colorado.

Association for Career and Technical Education

ACTE is a non-profit agency. Its mission is to improve the education system by helping students prepare for challenges they will face in technical schools.

Should You Pursue Vocational Education Online?

You should pursue an online study program with a vocational school if you’d like to work in a particular trade. Potential elevator mechanics, dental hygienists, auto mechanics, plumbers, nurses, or respiratory therapists can all benefit from this approach.

Vocational school is a great way to add value to your resume in a short time. Most programs take a maximum of around 18 months. Moreover, vocational school is very inexpensive compared to traditional education.

Another point to consider is that online education is more practical and flexible, so it might fit your lifestyle if you’re already working in another field to pay for your education.

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