Trade Schools in Iowa

Written ByRWM Editors
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If you're thinking about a new career, don't overlook trade schools in Iowa. The Iowa Area Development Group lists renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and agriculture and food production among the state's target industries, and all three of those fields offer great opportunities for students with training from career and technical schools in Iowa.

Specific cities and regions within the state tend to have their own high-demand industries, as well. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance reports that workers with training in biotechnology, engineering and automation or educational technology should find plenty of opportunity in the Cedar Rapids area, for example, and registered nurses in the area around Council Bluffs earned about $6,600 more per year than the statewide average in 2018.

Why is Iowa Good for Vocational And Technical Schools?

The U.S. shortage of skilled workers can no longer be ignored, and career technical education (CTE) is getting attention nationwide for its ability to close the skills gap. Earning a CTE certification in Iowa doesn't just prepare you for some of the top skilled labor jobs in the state, it can also help you get your career on track faster than a traditional bachelor's degree.

University degrees tend to take at least four years of full-time study to finish, while most certificates from campus-based and online trade schools in Iowa can be completed in a year or less. Even an associate degree, the most advanced level of CTE certification in Iowa, can be earned in just two years if you study full time.

We've got more information about trade schools and vocational training on this page, including some detail on the top two-year institutions in the state and a few valuable tips on how to apply for financial aid in Iowa. Read on to learn more about how the best trade and vocational schools in Iowa can help you take your career to the next level.

Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Iowa

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in Iowa

Financial aid is understood as a regular part of college life for university students, but it may not be so widely known that trade and vocational schools also offer opportunities for students to get some help with the cost of college. If you're hoping to find some assistance with tuition and other expenses, the first thing you'll want to do is fill out your FAFSA.

Known formally as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA is a keystone document in the student aid application process. With just a few pieces of information about you, such as your student status and expected income, the FAFSA can help aid agencies determine if you're eligible for helpful federal programs like Stafford Loans or the Pell Grant.

A completed FAFSA is also usually included in the application packet for other Iowa grants and scholarships, so don't skip it even if you're not seeking federal aid. Learn more about the FAFSA and get some bonus tips on how to apply for financial aid in Iowa in the financial aid guide on this site.

Check out these state-based Iowa scholarships and grants that might be able to help you pay for school:

  • Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant - Available exclusively to trade and vocational students in Iowa, this grant can provide up to $900 per year for two years if you study full time.
  • Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant (Kibbie Grant) - Iowa residents in certain community college CTE programs can apply for this program, which awards an amount equal to half of the average Iowa community college tuition.
  • Iowa Tuition Grant - Students at private colleges or trade schools in Iowa have access to this award, which provides a variable amount of tuition assistance that's based on the statewide average rate.

Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Iowa

  • For information about the public two-year schools in Iowa, check out the Iowa Community Colleges page at the Iowa Department of Education.
  • Students looking for detailed info about Iowa scholarships and grants, including helpful tips for students and families, can visit the user-friendly site of the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
  • It's important to make sure your school is accredited, especially if you're planning to work in a regulated industry or want to continue your education in the future. The Higher Learning Commission accredits public community colleges and trade schools in Iowa, while private institutions are typically accredited by national agencies like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

There are also some hard statistics about CTE certification in Iowa on Advance CTE, and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) offers detailed info, news and explanations of vocational training concepts at the state and national levels.

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