Best Online Vocational Trade Schools 2022

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Attending an online vocational school is a great way to enter the workforce quickly. Here, we outline courses and degrees available.

Online vocational trade schools train learners for specific careers. Students learn through traditional instruction and hands-on experience. Applicants may need a high school or GED diploma. Online trade schools offer majors leading to many careers, such as electrician, HVAC technician, and welder.

Graduates may work in the mechanical, construction, or industrial trades. They may also work in the medical or culinary fields. Salaries vary for different trade school careers.

This page lists some of the most affordable online trade schools. Read on for answers to frequent questions and to learn about costs and potential degrees.

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FAQ About Vocational Trade Schools

What jobs can you get with a vocational degree?

Vocational school careers include automotive technician, dental assistant, and electrician technician. Academic and career advisors can help students choose a professional path.

What kind of degrees do you get from a vocational school?

Online vocational trade schools may offer certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. The latter appeals to learners planning to enroll in a bachelor’s-completion program.

What are some of the highest-paying trade jobs?

Some of the highest-paying trade school careers include elevator technician, boilermaker, and electrician. Plumbers also earn wages that exceed the median national salary for all jobs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Earn a Vocational Degree?

Online vocational schools offer many advantages over four-year colleges. These schools’ programs train learners for specific careers. Some programs feature many annual start dates. Hands-on training helps enrollees develop in-demand skills. Some schools also accept learners without a high school or GED diploma.

Many trade careers pay above-average salaries. Elevator and escalator installers earn a median annual salary of $88,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters earn $56,330. Workers can increase their salary potential by working for a specific employer or moving to a state with a higher median salary.

How Much Does a Vocational Degree Cost?

Online vocational trade schools charge different tuition rates. Enrollees typically spend less than degree-seekers at four-year colleges. This advantage helps learners lower their student debt.

Students not only save money but also enter the workforce faster than traditional college learners. Full-time students can complete most vocational programs in 1-2 years. Part-time associate degree-seekers may need an extra year.

Students can lower their out-of-pocket expenses by applying for scholarships and grants. They should also submit the FAFSA.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online vocational trade schools charge students more than just tuition. For example, students may need to pay graduation or technology fees. Online learners may need to buy a computer that meets their school’s technology requirements. Students should also budget for commuting to work sites.

Some workers need more than a trade school education to achieve their career goals. They can improve their resume by earning a professional certification. A certification shows mastery of specific skills. Students should budget for certification fees. Career advisors can help learners select the right certifications.

Example Courses at an Online Vocational Trade School

Online vocational trade schools feature specialized curricula. Learners take classes specific to their chosen career. Associate degree-seekers also complete general education classes in the humanities, sciences, and other subjects. They can transfer these classes to a bachelor’s-completion program.

Students in a certificate in welding program often take the following three classes. Please note that not all trade schools offer this program online or in a hybrid format. Students should research potential schools’ graduation requirements before applying. They can also contact an admissions advisor for details.

  • Introduction to Welding, Safety, and Careers

    Students take this class before starting hands-on training. Coursework covers standard welding tools, methods, and protective equipment. Other class topics include popular careers and the most in-demand certifications. These lessons provide the academic foundation learners need before developing their skills in a welding lab.

  • Gas Metal Welding Arc I

    Learners study how to set up and inspect equipment. Students use this equipment to learn basic welds. Learners show their skills by creating different welding joints. Other coursework involves replacing worn-out parts, such as the wire spool.

  • Welding Applications I

    This class lets students uniquely show their skills. Learners work with an instructor to develop a project. Requirements include planning, blueprinting, and execution. Students use welding equipment throughout the process. The final product must include different welds an instructor grades with a rubric.

Example Degrees at an Online Vocational Trade School

Online vocational trade schools feature many fully online and hybrid degrees. Local junior and community colleges may also offer vocational certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. Learners can complete some programs in 12 months or less. Degree-seekers complete local in-person labs or internships. Some of these experiences prepare students to earn an industry certification.

The three programs below train learners for specific occupations. Please note that programs vary by school. Students should check with their prospective schools’ admissions department for information.

  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

    This program trains aspiring HVAC technicians and systems engineers. Classes focus on the techniques professionals use to install, maintain, and fix HVAC equipment. Learners master the latest industry standards throughout coursework and labs. Top programs prepare graduates to earn Environmental Protection Agency certification. Most entry-level jobs require this certification.

  • Physical Therapist Assistant

    Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) help people regain function and mobility. Coursework covers rehabilitation best practices, patient/client relationships, and data recording. Other class topics include patient management and special populations. Top PTA programs hold accreditation from the American Physical Therapy Association. Graduates may work in hospitals or private physical therapy offices.

  • Pharmacy Technicians

    Pharmacy technicians work at drugstores, hospitals, and grocery stores. Top programs train students in customer service, laws and regulations, and medicine preparation. Learners also master common management software. Programs qualify graduates to earn the national certification needed for entry-level positions.

Best Online Vocational and Trade Schools 2022

  1. San Juan College


    Farmington, NM

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    San Juan College offered only evening classes when it opened in 1956. Today, SJC educates more than 15,000 students every year. Learners can take classes on four campuses, including the main location in Farmington, New Mexico.

    San Juan College delivers nine fully online associate degrees. Online students can earn an associate degree in business administration, psychology, health information technology, occupational safety, physical therapist assistant, or veterinary technology.

    Many of the online trade school’s distance programs offer accelerated pathways that save students time and money. Accelerated options are ideal for working professionals who intend to transfer to a four-year school or change careers. For example, students can earn an associate in business administration degree with an accompanying business management certificate in 16 months.

    Online students can access career services, including resume assistance and career assessments. SJC maintains an open admissions policy and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. New Mexico Junior College


    Hobbs, NM

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    One of the best online technical schools in the Southwest, New Mexico Junior College delivers two-year degrees and career training programs. Learners can study online or at the flagship 243-acre campus in Hobbs.

    Ideal for working professionals, NMJC offers fully online associate degrees in business, computer information science, criminal justice, and energy technology. Before beginning an online program, students can take a self-assessment to determine whether distance learning is right for them. Academic counselors help students design individualized academic plans.

    Online learners complete 31 general education credits in subjects including composition and rhetoric, communication, fine arts, math, and laboratory science. Transfer students must complete at least 15 credits through NMJC to receive an associate degree.

    The New Mexico Junior College Foundation offers a variety of scholarships to applicants with a minimum 2.0 GPA. NMJC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Metropolitan Community College


    Omaha, NE

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    Metropolitan Community College, one of the top online technical schools in Nebraska, delivers more than 100 programs. The school maintains eight locations and enrolls more than 25,000 students.

    The college’s online degrees and certificates are ideal for working professionals who need flexible scheduling options. MCC’s online offerings include associate degrees in accounting, business, computer technology, criminal justice, health information management, and office technology.

    Learners can also pursue academic and career certificates in customer service representative, financial studies, and general management. Academic advisors and counselors help online learners plan their educational pathways. MCC maintains transfer agreements with four-year schools to help graduates enroll in bachelor’s programs.

    Learners pursuing an associate degree complete 40 general education credits. Students can apply for more than 125 scholarships. MCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. State Fair Community College


    Sedalia, MO

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    Founded in 1968 with 436 students, State Fair Community College maintains seven locations and a virtual campus. Today, SFCC enrolls more than 4,700 learners. The college delivers online programs through Canvas and offers more than 260 online classes.

    Students can earn a fully online associate degree in business management, health information technology, or healthcare specialist. Each program comprises 60-64 credits and prepares students to enroll in a four-year program or immediately enter the workforce. One of the leading online trade schools for healthcare students, SFCC offers online certifications in pharmacy technician, nurse aide, and medical coding.

    Learners can complete their program fully online or in a hybrid format. Students who choose to take some in-person classes can study in Boonville, Clinton, Eldon, Lake of the Ozarks, Sedalia, or Warsaw. SFCC also delivers courses at Whiteman Air Force Base.

    The college provides online technical support and tutoring, and distance learners can access more than 500,000 digital library resources. SFCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Southwest Virginia Community College


    Cedar Bluff, VA

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    Established in 1927, Southwest Virginia Community College is one of the best online trade schools for busy learners. The college offers more than 80 programs and delivers on-campus and online classes.

    Learners can pursue affordable, fully online associate degrees in administrative support technology, accounting, administration of justice, business management, early childhood education, and psychology. The college also offers online certificate programs in fields including medical records, health sciences, and legal studies.

    SVCC delivers online courses asynchronously through Canvas, allowing learners to access assignments and discussions at their convenience. Some students, such as those who live in Tazewell or Buchanan County, may qualify for tuition-free learning.

    Online students can communicate with advisors through email, phone, and chat. Learners can also access online tutoring and digital library resources. SVCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.