TheBestSchools’ Trade School Resources

TBS Staff Writers
Updated January 8, 2024
An online vocational program blends professional knowledge with hands-on skills to train graduates for the workforce. And how should you

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Vocational and trade programs prepare graduates for vocational careers in fields like allied health, hospitality, or construction. Most programs take two years or less.

Online trade schools train learners with career-ready skills. But before enrolling in a vocational program, prospective students need to weigh the cost, earning potential, and career opportunities in their chosen field.

Our online college and career resources make it easier to learn about different online trade schools, career paths, and enrollment options. For example, learners can pursue vocational training online, in person, or in a hybrid format. We also provide the latest news impacting prospective and current trade program students.

An online vocational program blends professional knowledge with hands-on skills to train graduates for the workforce. But which trades offer online programs? And how should you choose a vocational program? Keep reading for more information on trade programs.

Deciding to Pursue a Trade Program or Online Vocational Certificate

Does it make sense to attend trade school? Should you choose trade school or college? And what’s the difference between a vocational certificate and an associate degree?

Prospective trade school students need reliable information when weighing their options. Our resources help you find the educational path to reach your professional goals. We rank the top-paying trade school jobs for students curious about the earning potential of different vocational careers. We also rank online vocational certificate programs and skilled trades programs so prospective students can make a confident decision about their education.

Exploring Online Trade Schools

Once you have chosen to pursue vocational training, how can you find the best online trade schools? Every prospective student brings different needs and goals to their online program. Understanding your circumstances, including your availability and preferred learning format, makes it easier to find a good fit.

Our resources on online colleges include advice on choosing your program and using our rankings. Researching trade schools helps applicants make an informed decision. While the top-ranked program in a particular field might work for many students, tuition discounts, specialized courses, or in-person options might benefit other students.

What Careers Require Skilled Trades Programs?

Which career paths require vocational or skilled trades programs? Many high paying fields hire professionals with a short-term certificate or an associate degree. For example, aviation careers pay above-average salaries for professionals with 1-2 years of training. Vocational training opens the door for many other career paths.

Online trade schools also train learners for the electrical trades, maintenance jobs, and transportation careers. Many emergency services professionals train in vocational programs as well. EMTs and paramedics, for example, typically complete a certificate or degree. In construction and the skilled trades, vocational programs build the knowledge and skills required for these careers.

Automotive Trade Programs

Automotive technicians and mechanics keep vehicles running smoothly. Our ranking of the best auto mechanic schools helps prospective students learn more about their choices. Online vocational certificate programs train learners in automotive technology. During an automotive technology program, students learn how to repair automatic steering systems, brakes, and electrical systems.

Learners also study customer service and auto shop management in many degree-granting programs. Most trade schools also offer certificates in areas like engine performance and brake systems. After completing a certificate or degree, mechanics can apply for certification or open their own auto repair shop.

Construction and Engineering Trade Programs

The construction and engineering trades offer many opportunities for specialization and career advancement. Learners can pursue a certificate or degree in construction and other skilled trades at online trade schools. These schools offer related programs like a CAD certificate for people interested in drafting architectural or engineering plans.

Experienced construction professionals can also increase their earning potential with an online construction management degree. These programs build the financial management, supervisory, and project management skills required for leadership roles on construction projects. Online programs incorporate hands-on experiential learning to strengthen career-reading skills.

Emergency Management Programs

Emergency management professionals play a critical role in protecting communities and natural resources. With a degree in fire science, graduates work as firefighters, arson investigators, and forest managers. They also pursue opportunities as fire inspectors.

A fire science degree trains students in fire behavior, emergency response, and wildfire suppression. Learners examine different approaches to managing fires in urban and wildlands areas. Some fire science programs offer courses in fire management for professionals seeking supervisory roles in emergency management organizations. Learn more about emergency management and fire science programs below.

Health and Dentistry Programs

The healthcare field reports the strongest projected job growth of any field, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many allied health careers only require a certificate or associate degree. Students can pursue careers as a registered nurse with an associate in nursing. Other top allied health programs include radiologist technician, respiratory therapy, and physical therapy assisting.

Our rankings also introduce the top acupuncture schools in the U.S. and the best dental hygiene programs. Students complete clinical practicums and other supervised internship programs during an online health or dentistry program.

Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Programs

The hospitality, tourism, and restaurant industries employ millions of people. Online trade schools help people launch careers in these fields. Our resources rank the best hospitality management programs for learners seeking leadership positions in the hospitality or tourism sectors.

Prospective students can also learn more about hospitality and tourism programs or check out culinary schools that train top chefs. These specialized programs help people break into resort management positions or become private chefs. During an online program in hospitality, tourism, or culinary training, learners complete distance courses while also gaining hands-on experience in their local area.

Real Estate Programs

Real estate professionals help clients buy or sell homes. Some also specialize in rental properties. Real estate brokers make a median annual salary of over $60,000 per year, according to 2020 BLS data. And online real estate schools train graduates for careers as real estate sales agents and brokers.

Learners in real estate programs take courses in business, marketing, mortgage financing, and real estate law. These programs prepare graduates to apply for their broker’s license. Some programs take only 4-6 months. Students can also earn a real estate degree.

Veterinary Technician Programs

A veterinary technician assists veterinarians as they treat cats, dogs, and other household pets. Some vet techs specialize in large animals or exotic animals as well. A veterinary technician program trains learners in animal anatomy, common veterinary conditions, and treatment methods. In addition to classroom-based training, vet techs complete hands-on training to strengthen their abilities.

Students might spend as little as nine months in school to become a veterinary assistant or around two years to become a veterinary technician, depending on the program.

Alternatives to Online Trade Programs

An online trade program helps many professionals reach their goals. However, people considering vocational careers can choose several paths to complete the required training. For example, some skilled trades offer apprenticeships either through community colleges or licensed professionals.

Learners can also pursue an online certificate or an online associate degree to launch their vocational career. Many allied health careers require a certificate or degree, including radiation therapist, dental hygienist, and ultrasound technician. Researching online vocational certificate programs, degree-granting programs, and short-term programs helps students determine the best path for their career.

Succeeding in an Online Trade Program

Trade school students build vocational knowledge and hands-on skills at the same time. But what do you need to succeed in an online trade program? First, understand the advantages of online education, from the flexible schedule to opportunities to save money. Next, learn more about course delivery formats to see what works for your schedule. Finally, build the essential online education tools you’ll need to succeed.

Before applying to programs or signing up for classes, check out our online education checklist to make sure you’re ready for distance learning.

Paying for a Trade Program

The cost of trade school varies, but many students end up spending more than $10,000 to complete their training. What are the best ways to pay for an online program? Our resources cover college finances so students can make an informed choice about their options.

For example, we provide resources on trade school scholarships and student loans. It’s important to do your research because only certain schools qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Researching financial aid can help prospective students find allied health or skilled trades programs. Learn more about paying for school with the resources below.

Recent Publications for Prospective Trade Program Students

What’s the best way to network in an online program? How can you battle burnout during school? How should you negotiate a higher starting salary? Our recent publications cover the topics that matter to prospective and current students, particularly those considering online programs.

Our articles look at the value of non-degree programs, offer career advice from specialists, and help learners find their career path. Bookmark TheBestSchools magazine to stay current on school and career news and advice.

Are Non-Degree Programs Worth It?

Frequently Asked Questions About Trade Programs

Are There Online Trade Schools?

Yes. Online trade schools train students in the skilled trades, allied health fields, and other vocational areas. Students complete any in-person requirements in their local area.

What Is the Best Trade to Go to School for Right Now?

Many vocational fields report strong job growth. Healthcare careers, specialized technicians, and personal care occupations all report positive job growth projections.

How Much Do Online Trade Programs Cost?

Some students may spend more than $10,000 to complete their training. Most certificate programs cost less than a degree. However, the cost of an online trade program varies depending on the length and the school. Community colleges typically charge the lowest tuition rates.

Header Image Credit: Michal Venera | Getty Images