How Much Does Trade School Cost?
It's an important question for those deciding if a vocational education is right for them: How much does trade school cost? In order to answer this question, we evaluated the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics to determine average cost by state and program.
Keep in mind that the cost of trade school will vary greatly depending on which programs you're interested in, as well as where in the country you're located. Areas with a higher cost of living or a large urban population tend to have more expensive programs, and private colleges may have higher tuition compared to community colleges.
Trade School Cost by State
So, how much does trade school cost? Location can make a big difference. Average trade school tuition costs vary by state due to several factors, including the state's cost of living, state funding per student, and available public resources.
The most expensive states to attend trade school for full-time undergraduates are the District of Columbia, with an average in-state tuition of $21,129 per year, and Rhode Island, coming in a close second with an average in-state tuition of $17,546.
The least expensive states are New Mexico, with an average in-state tuition of $3,125, and Delaware, that has an average in-state tuition of $3,168.
Here are the average in-state tuition figures for eight more states where a vocational education is popular:
- New York, $10,820
- New Jersey, $9,167
- Texas, $7,291
- California, $7,610
- North Carolina, $4,815
- Maryland, $6,536
- Illinois, $11,201
- Georgia, $8,010
Note that the most expensive states also are home to major urban areas, such as Chicago and New York City, which may drive up average cost.
Trade School Cost by Program
Tuition prices also vary depending on the program, so before doing any financial research it's important to determine what type of a vocational field you wish to pursue. Here is a breakdown of costs on a program-by-program basis, based on the data.
Average in-state tuition: $2,740
There are 2,375 automotive programs offered in the United States, which makes it the most widely offered program of the ones featured here. It's no mystery why: There are 253 million cars and trucks on the road in the United States, with an average age of 11.4 years, according to a 2014 IHS automotive survey. Those vehicles need servicing and repairs, especially for older vehicles. These programs teach students how to diagnose, maintain and repair many different kinds of vehicles, and provide hand-on experience with relevant automotive technology. The wide availability of these programs, and demand for graduates, is most likely keeping tuition prices down.
Average in-state tuition: $2,798
The 1,448 programs in welding offered throughout the nation prepare students for employment in any industry that requires the fabrication and repair of metal structures. That goes well beyond construction and carpentry. The agriculture, manufacturing, and marine technology industries also require welders. Though technology is always changing, welding is a well-established field with a standard list of best practices and tried-and-tested teaching methods. This may ultimately contribute to lower training costs.
Machine Repair Programs
Average in-state tuition: $3,218
There are as many types of machine repair technicians as there are types of machines, including business machines (think printers and copiers) and industrial machines (think of those found in factories.) The 871 programs offered nationally will cover, and specialize in, the most common types of machines. There are various types of certifications that technicians can attain, including a machine maintenance certificate, a maintenance technician certificate or an associate degree in precision machining technology. Those wishing to work on the complex machinery used in manufacturing should consider the associate degree, which may be more expensive (and take longer to complete) than the certificate programs.
Average in-state tuition: $5,645
There are only 334 veterinary assistant programs offered nationally. These programs prepare graduates for a wide variety of important duties at a veterinarian's office, from surgical preparation to nursing small animals. The cost at many of these programs include an externship at a veterinarian's office, where the student can learn real-world skills before entering the workforce. Because vocational training as a vet assistant differs from the associate-level training required to be a veterinary technician, average tuition costs for this program remain low.
Average in-state tuition: $6,262
There are 1,322 vocational programs within the field of nursing. These programs most commonly result in a career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). An LVN provides basic nursing care, and assists nurses and doctors in a wide range of health care settings. Students can expect to receive hands-on clinical training in the fundamentals of patient care. Often, tuition fees cover real-world learning experiences gained through externships in hospitals, physician's offices, and other health care facilities.
Average in-state tuition: $6,967
Film degrees cost the most of the programs we assessed, most likely due to higher salaries for teachers within this field. Instructors need to be well-versed in the ever-changing technology and best practices within the field of film and television production. Higher costs may also be due to the limited number of these programs; only 389 offered nationally. Those wishing to pursue a career in film at a vocational school may train to become a film editor, or eventually be in charge of setting up the sound and lighting equipment on a film shoot.
Tuition data for this article was pulled from the National Center for Education Statistics. First, we selected schools offering programs common for trade occupations, such as electrician or a welder, or those that are accredited by one of these organizations:
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
- Council on Occupational Education
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools
Then, we found the states with the most (and least) expensive trade school tuitions. In addition to tuition by state, we looked at cost based on the program. It is important to assess tuition based on these factors, as the cost can vary so widely depending on location and subject area. A national average sticker price would not give prospective students a true depiction of actual costs.
- "253 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads; average age is 11.4 years", http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-ihs-automotive-average-age-car-20140609-story.html
- Animal Behavior College, http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/VeterinaryAssistant/
- Cabrillo College, https://www.cabrillo.edu/academics/welding/
- Concorde Career Colleges, http://www.concorde.edu/program/vocational-nurse
- "From Script to Screen: Careers in Film Production", The Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2013/summer/art02.pdf
- "How Do I Become a Machine Repair Technician," http://learn.org/articles/How_Do_I_Become_a_Machine_Repair_Technician.html
- "If you Live in These States, You Might Want To Stay Home for College," http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/11/02/higher-education-costs-vary-state-to-state
- Universal Technical Institute, http://www.uti.edu/programs/automotive;