Best Online Trade & Vocational Schools

Explore 50 of the top trade and vocational schools that offer programs via fully or primarily online coursework. Learn what types of degrees you can earn, how long it should take, and what careers you might qualify for.

Top Trade and Vocational Schools with Online Programs

When choosing the best trade and vocational schools for an online program, students should review program and school characteristics such as cost, residency requirements and flexibility. Fifty of the best trade and vocational schools that offer programs online are listed below.

1. Holmes Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Goodman, MS $3,110 91%

Holmes Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and is a member of the Mississippi Virtual Community College, or MSVCC. Students of MSVCC member schools are able to access and take courses from other MSVCC member schools while maintaining their home school. Holmes offers several career and technical degree programs through entirely or primarily online formats. Students may be able to pursue certificates or degrees in fields such as nursing, technology, criminal justice and billing & coding. In-state students taking fewer than 15 credit hours have a tuition rate of $120 per credit, while students taking 15 to 21 credit hours have a flat-rate tuition of $1,300 per semester.

2. East Mississippi Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Scooba, MS $3,440 96%

East Mississippi Community College has more than 450 online courses each year, enabling students in many programs to complete some or all of their coursework online. The school offers career and technical programs in nursing, health, engineering and manufacturing technology as well as hospitality and business management. In-state students have a tuition rate of $155 per credit or $1,650 per semester if taking 15 to 19 credit hours; students in some programs (such as nursing) pay a flat-rate fee per semester that includes tuition and other relevant costs. The school is accredited by the SACSCOC, and many of its programs have additional specialized accreditation.

3. Northcentral Technical College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Wausau, WI $3,553 74%

Northcentral Technical College offers more than 50 programs online and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In-state residents have a tuition cost of $137 per credit hour and out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $205 per credit hour. Online certificate programs include those in bookkeeping, business administration, early childhood education, general studies and project management. Technical diploma programs that are available online include marketing, office assistant, engineering technician and information technology. Students can also earn as associate's degree entirely online in areas such as supply chain management, accounting, early childhood education and engineering technology.

4. Northeast Mississippi Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Booneville, MS $3596 99%

Northeast Mississippi Community College participates in the MSVCC with other institutions, enabling students to access online courses from all member schools. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the school offers numerous programs for certificates and associate's degrees. Students can choose from programs in nursing, medical assisting, computer technology, accounting technology and many more. Mississippi residents taking 12 to 21 credit hours have a tuition rate of $1,655 while out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $3,145.

5. Ivy Tech Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Indianapolis, IN $4,368 74%

Ivy Tech Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and also has specialized accreditation for several of its online programs. The school offers over 1,000 courses online that can be applied to many programs, but also offers several degree and certificate programs completely online. Students can pursue 100% online programs in areas such as information technology, supply chain management, criminal justice, business, library technical assistant and accounting. In-state students have a per-credit tuition rate of $150 while out-of-state students taking online courses have a tuition rate of $175.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Georgia Piedmont Technical College Clarkston, GA $2,924 90%
7 Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins, GA $2,778 88%
8 Northwest Technical College Bemidji, MN $5,488 93%
9 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN $5,335 86%
10 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH $4,284 78%
11 Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN $5,692 90%
12 Minnesota State College Southeast Winona, MN $5,628 78%
13 Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH $4,004 81%
14 Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA $2,792 91%
15 Pamlico Community College Grantsboro, NC $1,867 40%
16 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY $3,426 94%
17 San Joaquin Delta College Stockton, CA $1,288 76%
18 Lanier Technical College Gainesville, GA $3,336 80%
19 Southern Regional Technical College Thomasville, GA $2,728 95%
20 Coastal Pines Technical College Waycross, GA $2,748 84%
21 West Georgia Technical College Waco, GA $2,838 87%
22 Southeastern Technical College Vidalia, GA $2,863 97%
23 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA $3,873 65%
24 Clovis Community College Clovis, NM $1,616 84%
25 Stanly Community College Albemarle, NC $2,673 53%
26 Rio Salado College Tempe, AZ $2,070 84%
27 Lake Area Technical Institute Watertown, SD $5,332 92%
28 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI $4,729 80%
29 Pitt Community College Winterville, NC $1,930 82%
30 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah, KY $4,248 98%
31 Albany Technical College Albany, GA $2,712 93%
32 Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN $5,416 88%
33 Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC $2,558 78%
34 Southwestern Oregon Community College Coos Bay, OR $6,077 91%
35 Owensboro Community and Technical College Owensboro, KY $4,248 98%
36 Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland, WI $4,247 74%
37 Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls, MN $5,549 87%
38 Madisonville Community College Madisonville, KY $4,248 98%
39 Oconee Fall Line Technical College Sandersville, GA $2,678 100%
40 Southern Arkansas University Tech Camden, AR $4,977 85%
41 James A Rhodes State College Lima, OH $4,085 79%
42 Gateway Community and Technical College Florence, KY $4,328 90%
43 Maysville Community and Technical College Maysville, KY $4,248 98%
44 Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI $4,565 68%
45 Trinity Valley Community College Athens, TX $4,920 80%
46 Eastern Gateway Community College Steubenville, OH $4,240 100%
47 Hazard Community and Technical College Hazard, KY $4,248 99%
48 Craven Community College New Bern, NC $2,023 80%
49 Stark State College North Canton, OH $4,070 83%
50 Tulsa Community College Tulsa, OK $3,349 88%

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions. All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition rates represent the 2018-2019 school year.

Choosing the Right Trade or Vocational School for an Online Program

While reviewing trade and vocational schools for an online program, there are several factors that you should consider in your decision.

Programs Offered

Decide what types of program is the best fit for your career objectives and narrow down your school choices. Depending on your career goals, you may need a certificate, bachelor's or associate's degree program. Make sure to ask each school if the program you're interested in is available completely online and if you meet the admissions requirements.

Residency Requirements

Depending on your chosen program, you may be able to complete it 100% online. Some programs, such as health practice and other technical areas, require some on-site components. Review your school choices to see what practical requirements, if any, are required. These may include on-campus experiences or hands-on practice hours in settings that are applicable to your program.

Flexibility

Trade and vocational schools usually offer most programs to students in a flexible format, allowing students to take as many courses per semester as they desire. However, some programs may be structured as only full-time or part-time options. Consider your time commitments and desired graduation date when deciding what level of study is right for you.

Accreditation

You should look for a school that has institutional accreditation, as this shows that a school meets specific quality criteria; institutional accreditation is also required to qualify for federal financial aid. Depending on your program, you may also need programmatic accreditation. For example, individuals who wish to become registered nurses must graduate from an accredited program to qualify for licensure.

Cost

Costs for online programs vary by student, school and specific program. Many schools separate program costs into tuition and other fees (such as technology fees and course materials fees) while other schools combine all costs into one flat rate. It's important to review and compare total program costs, but keep in mind that there are several types of financial aid available to online students.

What Type of Degree Can You Earn at Trade and Vocational Schools?

Depending on the school you select, you may be able to earn several types of degrees and certificates, each of which are discussed below.

  • Certificate Programs: These programs are generally open to students with a high school diploma or an equivalent, and take one or two semesters to complete. Students may earn a certificate in a variety of fields, such as early childhood education and bookkeeping, to show potential employers that they have a foundational understanding of that field.
  • Diploma Programs: Diploma programs are very similar to certificate programs, but typically have more in-depth courses within the curriculum. Diploma programs are more technical, and often include some hands-on practice components. Online and hybrid diploma programs are available in fields such as accounting, information technology, nursing and office assistant.
  • Associate's Degree Programs: Also open to high school graduates and students with equivalent educational backgrounds, associate's degree programs usually consist of 60 credit hours and take around 2 years to complete. Online associate's degree programs are often available in several areas, including business, nursing, education and information technology.
  • Bachelor's Degree Programs: Bachelor's degrees are the highest undergraduate degrees that students can earn, and are usually available in most areas of study. Students can often complete their bachelor's degree entirely online, excluding technical programs like nursing, social work and education. Students can complete an online bachelor's degree program in 2 years by transferring from a trade or vocational college.

Degree Admissions Requirements Typical Program Length (full-time)
Certificate High school diploma/GED 1 year or less
Diploma High school diploma/GED 1 year or less
Associate's Degree High school diploma/GED 2 years
Bachelor's Degree (transfer student) Associate's Degree 2 years

What is an Online Vocational Program Like?

Online vocational programs may consist of completely online requirements or a combination of online and on-site components. Students who are enrolled in more technical programs, like nursing and medical assisting, usually attend several hands-on learning experiences that are offered either on campus, at an approved preceptor site, or a combination of the two.

Many online programs offered by trade and vocational schools are flexible. They enable students to take courses at their own pace and consist of primarily or entirely asynchronous coursework. In other words, students can typically take as many courses per semester as they like and are able to log into their courses to complete assignments at times that are convenient for them.

The online platform that students use for their program is often separated into two key sites: the student portal and the learning portal. The student portal is the website that students might use for registration, reviewing their degree completion plan and paying their student balance. The learning portal is usually provided by a third party (such as Moodle or Blackboard) and is sort of a virtual classroom. The learning portal can be used for emails, forum posts, lectures and assignments. Depending on their program and course, students may also use outside software programs (such as Microsoft Office) as well as additional websites for activities such as online labs.

Common Online Vocational Programs

The most popular online and distance programs for undergraduate students include business and management, education, health and computer & information science. Several common programs under each area of study are discussed below, along with potential career paths for each. Keep in mind that in some of these professions, employers often prefer a bachelor's degree, which would require students to transfer from a trade college to a 4-year university.

Business and Management

The most popular undergraduate programs offered via distance learning are those in business and management. Students can earn a certificate, diploma or degree in areas such as business analyst, human resources and business management/administration. Certificate programs are also available in areas such as office assisting, bookkeeping, healthcare administration and software-specific topics. Depending on the program completed, graduates can work in a number of business and administrative positions. Some of the careers that graduates may choose to pursue are shown in the table below.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Lodging Managers $53,390 1%
Human Resources Specialists $60,880 5%
Management Analysts $83,610 14%
Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks $40,240 -4%
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $38,880 -7%

Computer and Information Science

With an increasingly technology-based society, the demand for computer and information professionals continues to grow. Many trade and vocational schools offer degrees, certificates and diplomas in computer and information science areas. Programs that are available online include information technology, computer technology, computer science and engineering technology. Many students in computer and information science programs obtain supplemental certifications to show their comprehension and skill in specific areas, such as SQL or Java programming.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Web Developer $69,430 13%
Information Security Analysts $98,350 32%
Computer Support Specialists $53,470 10%
Computer Programmers $84,280 -7%
Computer Systems Analysts $88,7409%

Education

Although many grade-school teaching positions require a bachelor's degree, there are a number of career options for graduates of lower-degree programs. Education programs are offered online and in hybrid formats in areas that include early childhood education and teacher education. In addition, students with significant experience in another field (such as mechanics) may choose to complete a basic education program in order to teach the subject that they are experienced in.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Career and Technical Education Teachers: Middle School $59,230 3%
Library Technicians and Assistants $29,640 -3%
Preschool Teachers $29,780 7%
Teacher Assistants $26,970 4%
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $57,980 3%

Health

Online and distance health program options continue to expand at trade and vocational schools and are one of the popular distance program fields in the United States. Popular programs include those in nursing, healthcare administration, medical billing/coding and medical assisting. Most programs prepare students for specific roles, and many require some hands-on practice. For example, students interested in nursing can choose from several degree levels to prepare for roles as CNAs, LPNs or RNs; all three of these programs require students to complete a specific number of hours of real-world practice of their learning objectives.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians $40,350 11%
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) $46,240 11%
Nursing Assistants (CNAs) $28,540 9%
Registered Nurses (RNs) $71,730 12%
Medical Assistants $33,610 23%

All salary and outlook data is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to Get Financial Aid for an Online Vocational Program

If you're interested in financial aid for your online program at a trade or vocational school, the first thing you'll need to do is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is free and shows you what types of aid you might qualify for. You also have the option to add your school choices in your FAFSA application, which then sends those schools a notification of your results. This saves you a step once you begin your admission and registration process. In addition to the FAFSA, you can look for scholarships offered by outside organizations through various websites.

Work-Study

Work-study programs allow you to fund all or part of their program by working part-time while in school. Work-study might be available through your employer or through your school.

Student Loans

Student loans are available through the government as well as private lenders. Government loans are typically the better choice between the two because they are based on income and have nationally set interest rates.

Loan Forgiveness

Loan forgiveness programs are offered by the government and many employers. Government forgiveness usually applies to graduates who work in certain public-service roles for 5-10 years after graduation, while employer forgiveness/repayment is offered to employees as an incentive.

Scholarships

There are many scholarships available to students pursuing vocational degrees or certificates, several of which are listed below.

  • Advantage Medical Staffing Scholarship - $1,000 is awarded to students who are pursuing an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Standard Scholarship - This scholarship awards $1,000 to students enrolled in undergraduate programs at vocational schools.
  • Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund - $2,000 is awarded to low-income female students who are at least 35 years old who are pursuing a vocational or technical undergraduate degree.
  • Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship for Women in Technology - $1,500 is awarded to female students who are pursuing a technology-related degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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