There's a rosy employment outlook for job candidates with the right training from trade and vocational schools in Alaska. Several of the top industries in the biggest U.S. state, such as health care, social assistance, construction, administrative support and transportation, offer a range of entry-level careers for skilled workers.
Training for certain career pathways can be especially valuable in certain parts of the state. Qualified registered nurses, for example, earn over $20,000 more per year than the national average at medical centers in Alaska's more rural regions. Students training in carpentry, plumbing or another construction trade can earn around $14,000 per year over the national average in the Anchorage metropolitan area.
Why is Alaska Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
There are a few reasons why you might choose to get trained at career and technical schools in Alaska rather than earning a bachelor's degree at a four-year university. One of the biggest reasons is the time it takes to finish your program — bachelor's degrees take at least four years to complete in most cases, but vocational certificates can often be earned in a year or less and associate degrees take around two years of full-time study.
Trade school training also tends to cost quite a bit less than a university education. Bachelor's degree students in Alaska paid an average of roughly $7,200 per year in tuition and fees in 2017, while trade school and community college students paid just over $3,800 in the same period.
Read on to learn about featured programs at campus-based and online trade schools in Alaska, and scroll to the bottom of the page for some helpful tips about financial aid and a list of resources for trade and vocational school students.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Alaska
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in Alaska
If you're hoping to find some help with the cost of your training at career and technical schools in Alaska, you'll be glad to know that there are several financial aid programs available to students at two-year schools. Whether you're planning to seek aid from federal, state or institutional sources, there's one very important document that you'll want to fill out.
Known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), this financial aid master document gathers information about your family income and student status to help determine your eligibility for need-based programs. Most Alaska scholarships and grants require a completed FAFSA for all applicants, and federal aid programs like the Pell Grant can only be awarded to students who have a current FAFSA on file.
We've put together a comprehensive guide to financial aid for anyone who wants to know more about the FAFSA and the financial aid process in general. Here's a short list of Alaska scholarships and other programs that might be able to help with your trade school tuition bills:
- Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) - Alaska residents who graduated from in-state high schools in 2011 or later may be eligible for as much as $4,755 per year if they hit certain GPA and test score targets.
- Alaska Education Grant (AEG) - This need-based program awards between $500 and $4,000 per year to Alaska residents pursuing a degree or career certificate on at least a half-time basis at a qualifying in-state institution.
- Alaska Supplemental Education Loan (ASEL) - Eligible students who need extra help paying for school can apply for these state-based loans, which offer fixed interest rates comparable to federal loan programs.
Resources for vocational students and vocational job seekers in Alaska
- The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education administrates state-based aid programs and the Alaska Career Information System (AKCIS).
- Find out how Alaska CTE programs are making a difference for students in the state at the career and technical education page at the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
- Only accredited schools can be counted on to provide training and education that meets the quality standards expected by employers and advanced programs for further training. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accredits community colleges and public trade schools in Alaska, while national industry groups like the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) provide accreditation for individual training programs.
Take a look at Alaska's page on Advance CTE for some nuts-and-bolts statistics about Alaska CTE programs and how they're improving outcomes for students in the state. Also check the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) for in-depth information about policies and initiatives that benefit career schools in Alaska.