Florida was named the top state in the U.S. for higher education in 2018, and big universities like Florida State aren't the only reason why. According to Investopedia, three of the top six industries in the state rely on trade and vocational schools as a source for the skilled labor they need. On top of that, the health care field in Florida created nearly 1 million jobs in 2015, and the construction industry is one of the strongest in the country.
Naturally, employment trends aren't exactly the same all across the state. Orlando had nearly twice the growth in construction jobs than anywhere else in the state from 2014 to 2015, for example, and Jacksonville was ranked among the top 10 cities in the country for health care workers in 2018. Matching the right training with strong workforce demand can lead to the type of rewarding and well-paying job you've been looking for.
Why is Florida Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
Job availability is high for vocational and career school graduates in the Sunshine State. The Florida Department of Education reported in 2018 that fully half of the state's fastest growing jobs require just an associate degree or career certificate -- jobs like medical assistant, dental hygienist, software developer, financial manager and veterinary assistant.
Bachelor's degrees typically take at least four years of full-time study to complete, which can make sense for students looking to go into careers that require knowledge of a broad range of subjects, but training for vocational jobs tends to focus tightly on skills relevant to your specific career. Full-time students at health care, construction and automotive trade schools in Florida can finish most associate degree plans in just two years, and many certificate plans can be completed in a year or less.
If you're looking for the right place to get your vocational training started, take a look at our list of the best trade schools in Florida and see how they measure up to your career aspirations.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Florida
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Florida
Help with the cost of your vocational or trade school degree is available in every state, but how does financial aid work in Florida? How can the Florida Student Assistance Grant help lighten the load? Take a look at this rundown of scholarships and grants for college in Florida, as well as other financial aid programs you might not have considered.
One of the most important documents for your financial aid search is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which connects you with grant and loan programs at the federal level. Make sure to fill out and submit your FAFSA as soon as you can. For more information on how to qualify and apply for financial aid in Florida, read more about the FAFSA and other common concepts in our handy financial aid guide.
Here's a list of a few school grants and scholarships in Florida:
- Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) - This statewide program works to provide financial aid to undergraduates and trade school students who have been residents of Florida for at least one year. The award is based on financial need, and individual institutions each set their own award and eligibility guidelines.
- First Generation Matching Grant Program (FGMG) - Students at participating state community colleges may qualify for this need-based program, which awards financial aid to students whose parents have not earned a bachelor's degree or higher.
- Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program - If you or one of your parents is an agricultural worker in Florida, you may qualify for an award equal to your full tuition bill for one term. Eligibility is limited to Florida residents enrolled in school full time.
Initiatives for Vocational School Students in Florida
The Florida Department of Education and several other agencies work to make career education more accessible for Florida residents. Here are just a few initiatives in place in the Sunshine State:
- The College Access and Success Initiative headed up by the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) extends grant money to community foundations hoping to improve college access for Florida residents. The $5,000 Exploratory Grant, designed to help community groups develop local college access networks, is just one of the programs funded by the initiative.
- Pathways to Prosperity, an initiative organized by CareerSource Florida, offers awards of up to $500,000 for successful joint proposals by two or more local workforce development boards. Proposals are expected to focus on removing employment barriers through skill development and other means.
Florida Policies That Benefit Vocational Students
- In January 2019, the governor of Florida issued an executive order to audit the job market alignment of the state's trade and vocational school programs. The order also asked the state's education commissioner to request $26 million from the state legislature for the development of more effective vocational study plans.
- The Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council is working to meet their goal of seeing 55 percent of adult residents with a college degree or certificate by 2025 by appropriating $85 million from the 2018 state budget to create and develop workforce training programs at public two-year schools.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Florida
- Florida Department of Education can help you better understand career clusters in the state and how its workforce training programs are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
- Florida Ready to Work is an employee credentialing program designed to help job seekers prepare for the jobs they want.
- Before you enroll in a trade or vocational school program, it's a good idea to know which accrediting agencies have certified the training that's being offered. The Council on Occupational Education (COE) and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) are two of the major trade school accrediting agencies in Florida.
These aren't the only resources that might help trade school students in Florida. Browse to Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and check out the state-specific sections to find out more.