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October 21, 2018

 

The 10 Best Trade Schools in the United States

If you’re interested in pursuing a trade like HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work, you want to go to the best trade school you can find. I found ten trade schools that should be at the top of your list.

A four-year degree is an expensive piece of paper that is maddening to get and even more maddening to pay for. (If this all sounds strange to you, I’d like to ask what rock you’ve been living under and if you’d mind terribly if I joined you.)

A multiyear survey on attitudes toward college conducted by pollster Gallup and Purdue University, showed that less than half of graduates from four-year colleges felt that their degree was worth it. Fortunately, that route is far from the only choice available. For many, a two-year trade school serves as a much better option. A trade school is a specialized educational institution that allows you to pursue a course of technical education related to a specific skilled vocation. Common courses of study include mechanical, electrical, automotive, carpentry, and plumbing, but trade schools may also include fields as diverse as culinary arts, music production, broadcasting, graphic design, computer programming, cosmetology, and even nursing and medical technologies.

Many of these fields (particularly on the field service side) are industries experiencing, and set to experience, a lot of growth in the job market according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to be part of that growth (and don’t want to join the throngs of recent grads with degrees of dubious value), then you should probably think about attending a trade school. To help you weigh your options, I put together a list of ten of the best trade schools out there, specifically ones that specialize in fields like mechanical, electrical, automotive, carpentry, construction, plumbing, and HVAC.

The Best Trade Schools in the US

1. Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Private, not-for profit

Locations:

Clarkston, GA; Covington, GA; Decatur, GA

Overview:

Georgia Piedmont Technical College has three separate campuses and is the “oldest and most respected of Georgia’s 22 technical colleges” according to their vision statement. Georgia Piedmont Technical College was specifically listed as having the number one HVACR program by collegechoice.net. They also offer other top notch field service training programs under their Industrial Technologies area of study.

Trades Offered:

Automotive Technology, Building Automation Systems, Commercial Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Technology, and Welding & Joining Technology

2. Lake Area Technical Institute

Private, not-for profit

Location:

Watertown, SD

Overview:

Lake Area Technical Institute was awarded the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and has a huge variety of trade specializations, all in a two-year timeline. They boast a high success rate with 98.56% of graduates employed or going on to continue their education after graduating Lake Area Technical Institute.

Trades Offered:

Automotive Technology, Aviation Maintenance Technology, Building Trades Technology, Custom Paint & Fabrication, Diesel Technology, Electronic Systems Technology, Energy Technology, Environmental Technology, Heavy Equipment Operator, High Performance Engine Machining, Precision Machining, Robotics, and Welding Technology

3. Ivy Tech Community College

Private, not-for profit

Locations:

Indiana (40 locations)

Overview:

Ivy Tech Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and a member of the North Central Association. With over 40 locations around Indiana, they are very committed to enriching Indiana’s technical field and do a great job of hosting comprehensive programs for Building Construction Management, Building Construction Technology, Diesel Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, and HVAC. Their electrical work program is rated number one in its field by collegechoice.net.

Trades Offered:

Advanced Automation & Robotics Technology, Agriculture, Automotive Technology, Aviation Technology, Building Construction Management, Building Construction Technology, Diesel Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronics & Computer Technology, Energy Technology, Engineering Technology, HVAC, Industrial Technology, Machine Tool Technology. Manufacturing Production and Operations, Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Nanotechnology, Precision Agriculture Equipment Technology, and Pre-Engineering

4. East Valley Institute of Technology

Private, not-for profit

Locations:

Mesa, AZ; Fountain Hills, AZ; Apache Junction, AZ

Overview:

East Valley Institute of Technology has a mission statement based on training a qualified workforce to meet the market-driven needs of business and industry. Right now that market demands more skilled workers in fields like HVAC, electrical work, and plumbing. They have three different locations in Arizona and a focus on trade specializations.

Trades Offered:

Classic Automotive Restoration, Collision Repair, Cosmetology, George Brazil School of Plumbing Service & Repair Technician, HVAC, Industrial Trades Academy & GED program, Precision Machining & Manufacturing Technology, Solar Maintenance & Installation Technician-PV, and Welding

5. Western Wyoming Community College

Private, not-for profit

Location:

Rock Springs, WY

Overview:

Western Wyoming Community College prides themselves on being a constantly evolving institution, responding to student feedback and market needs. They are a member of the Academic Quality Improvement Program and provide many different pathways for finding your perfect career.

Trades Offered:

Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, Electrical Technology, Industrial Maintenance Technology, Mining Maintenance Technology, Natural Gas Compression Technology, Oil & Gas Technology, and Welding

6. Center for Employment Training

Private, not-for profit

Locations:

California, Virginia, Texas

Overview:

CET is all about improving your existing skills and knowledge to give you a noticeable difference in pay and opportunity. Every program they offer lists the average pay of the people who completed the course and exactly what students stand to get from it. Their most popular field of study is Construction & Building Maintenance, with a specific program for Green Building Construction Skills that deals with more modern building technologies.

Trades Offered:

Construction & Building Maintenance, Cleaning Service & Maintenance Technician, Green Building Construction Skills, Electrician, HVAC Technician, HVAC Green Technology, Machinist Technology, and Welding Fabrication

7. Central New Mexico Community College

Private, not-for profit

Locations:

Albuquerque, NM; Rio Rancho, NM

Overview:

With Carpentry, Construction Management Technologies, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Trades, HVACR, Machine Tool Technology, Plumbing and Gas Fitting, and Welding as part of their 80+ specialized areas of study, Central New Mexico Community College offers many different avenues of technical work. Their electrical trades program is particularly notable, ranking as one of the top three such programs according to collegechoice.net.

Trades Offered:

Architectural/Engineering Drafting Technology, Automotive Technology, Aviation Technology, Carpentry, Construction Management Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Trades, Emerging Applications in Applied Technologies, Film Technician, Geographic Information Technology, HVACR, Machine Tool Technology, Plumbing and Gas Fitting, Pre-Architecture, Rapid Prototyping & Innovative Design, Surveying Technology, Truck Driving, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and Welding

8. Triangle Tech Inc

For-profit

Location:

Greensburg, PA

Overview:

With seven locations all over PA, Triangle Tech Inc specializes in construction trades (though they offer many other programs). They are a nationally accredited technical school and were listed in Forbes Magazine’s Top 30 Two-Year Trade Schools list.

Trades Offered: CADD with Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing Technology, Maintenance Electricity & Construction Technology, HVACR, Carpentry & Construction Technology, and Welding & Fabrication Technology

9. Ferris State University

Private, not-for profit

Location:

Big Rapids, MI

Overview:

Though the main campus remains in Big Rapids, MI, Ferris State University has collaborated with 20 other locations to expand their reach. I included them on this list for their notably great HVAC program, but they also have 190 other career options to choose from, including multiple arms of the field service industry with their Engineering Technology field of study.

Trades Offered:

Architectural Technology, Automotive Service Technology, Building Construction Technology, CAD Drafting and Tool Design Technology, Civil Engineering Technology, Heavy Equipment Technology, HVACR Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Manufacturing Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology, Surveying Technology, and Welding Technology

10. Austin Community College

Private, not-for profit

Location:

Austin, TX

Overview:

The total annual enrollment (including online students) figures for Austin Community College feature over 70,000 students. These multitudes have enrolled in one of the school’s 100+ specialized programs, including an HVAC program ranked among the best by collegechoice.net.

Trades Offered:

Architectural & Engineering Computer Aided Design, Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology, Automotive Technology & Outdoor Powered Equipment, Building Construction Technology, Electronics & Advanced Technologies, Geographic Information Systems, HVACR, Land Surveying Technology/Geomatics, and Welding Technology

Conclusion

Pursuing a two-year degree in a trade field is far more financially frugal decision than shelling out for a four-year degree, but you’ll still have to pay something for it.

All of these institutions offer some form of financial aid. Look into and apply for these opportunities, but don’t discount private companies or outside grants either. At Smart Service, we offer a scholarship for anyone attending or planning to attend an accredited program in the skilled trades or a related field (basically any field service occupation) either full time or part time. If you take the time to look, you might find other scholarships that specifically target aspiring electricians or HVAC technicians. Do yourself a favor and put as much time looking at scholarships as you did looking at schools. After all, no one wants loans looming while accepting a diploma.

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