According to the 2018 U.S. Manpower Survey, one of the top reasons that employers have difficulty filling open positions is a lack of technically competent applicants. Training programs at the best trade and vocational schools in Arizona can teach you the skills you need to fill those technical gaps and get started on a fulfilling career.
Individual Arizona regions or cities may show an even brighter job outlook than the state at large, whether in specific occupations or throughout the job market. Construction workers or site managers might find good opportunities in suburban Phoenix, since its county of Maricopa was the fastest-growing county in the U.S. in 2018. Also in 2018, Business Insider named four Arizona cities — Gilbert, Peoria, Scottsdale and Chandler — among its five best U.S. cities to find a job.
Why is Arizona Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
Reports about the Grand Canyon State's career technical education (CTE) landscape suggest that students at career and technical schools in Arizona should have plenty of opportunity for employment once they graduate. For example, more than half of jobs that provide median annual earnings of around $55,000 are held by workers without a bachelor's degree.
On top of that, students seeking CTE certification in Arizona paid significantly less per year for their educations than their counterparts on university campuses. The average Arizona student at a two-year school paid less than $2,600 per year in tuition and fees in 2018-19, while university programs charged a yearly average of more than $11,500.
If you're thinking about applying to campus-based and online trade schools in Arizona, read on for information on the state's ten best institutions and a list of resources to help you on your search. We'll also talk about how to apply for financial aid in Arizona and introduce you to some initiatives designed to help trade school students succeed.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Arizona
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in Arizona
Earning a CTE certification in Arizona might be far less costly than getting a university bachelor's degree, but that doesn't mean that paying for college isn't still a struggle for some students. Fortunately, many financial aid programs in Arizona apply to trade school and community college programs as well as university degree plans.
The first thing you need to do on your quest for financial aid in Arizona is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only is the FAFSA the only way to see if you qualify for federal aid programs, but programs at the state and institutional level also typically use the information on your FAFSA as all or part of their own eligibility process. We've got more information on the FAFSA and other important financial aid concepts in RWM's financial aid guide.
Here's a quick list of Arizona scholarships and grants that you might be able to use to reduce the cost of your trade school training:
- Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (AzLEAP) - Grants from AzLEAP are based on financial need and awarded through individual institutions. The average yearly award is $1,000, with a maximum annual amount of $2,500.
- The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona (TRVFA) - Eligible vocational students can receive a one-time grant of $2,000 to help with the cost of college-level career training programs, provided they're sponsored by a regional Rotary Club and enrolled in a qualified program.
- Association for Career Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ) Scholarship - CTE students in high school or college can be recommended for this award by an ACTEAZ member. The amount of the award can range from $500 to $2,500.
Initiatives for Vocational School Students in Arizona
Arizona also features a range of initiatives designed to help students and institutions bridge the gap from traditional school programs to the workforce. Here are a few such initiatives active in the state as of 2019:
Funding for vocational students in Arizona
- The Arizona Community Foundation offers more than 100 Arizona scholarships, as well as grant and loan opportunities for organizations working to empower communities within the state.
- State Farm Insurance Emergency Student Assistance is a program that pledges up to $500 in one-time funds for eligible students who need help with the cost of housing, transportation, food and books at any Maricopa Community College.
Arizona policies that benefit vocational students
- The Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES) features a hub for apprenticeship programs that can provide on-the-job learning and supervised work experience for students in electrical, masonry, pipe fitting and other classical trades.
- Untapped Arizona is an independent non-profit organization that works to improve inclusion and accessibility in workplaces by assisting employers with recruitment, hiring and professional development for individuals with disabilities.
School-specific program initiatives in Arizona
- High school seniors who plan to attend a program at the Arizona campus of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) may be eligible for a $1,000 award offered in partnership with the Arizona Private School Association (APSA).
- Students at private trade schools such as Arizona College and The Refrigeration School can apply for the APSA's $500 LifeLong Learning Student Scholarship. A combination of financial need and strong career potential are used to determine eligibility.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Arizona
- If you're thinking about getting your trade school education at a public college, you can check the Arizona Community Colleges website for information on institutions in Arizona's 10 community college districts. The Arizona Private School Association has similar info on the state's private trade schools.
- Students and graduates can tap into Arizona@Work, a workforce development network that aims to connect job seekers with employment opportunities statewide.
- Regional accreditation for public trade and vocational schools in Arizona is provided by the Higher Learning Commission. Single-career schools and individual programs are typically accredited by national industry groups, such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, while the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges accredits institutions with locations in other states.
- Arizona's state page at Advance CTE is a good resource for statistics and general info on career and technical education statewide. Another great destination for information seekers is the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), which features self-paced online courses and a scholarship portal for students seeking CTE certification in Arizona.