Louisiana can be a great spot to find a job in a variety of industries. The state has a thriving agribusiness sector that is developing specialty foods, and its location along the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico means it's a natural place for water management and energy businesses to be based. Other key industries include automotive, aerospace and manufacturing. In New Orleans, digital media, film and international trade are also significant employers.
Within these sectors, many businesses are hiring people who don't have four-year college degrees. Manufacturing, natural resources and health services are among the Louisiana industries offering good jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree, says Advance CTE, a nonprofit group of career technical education leaders.
Why is Louisiana good for vocational schools?
Whether you're a recent high school graduate or a working adult looking to switch careers, there are plenty of reasons to consider technical schools in Louisiana. For one, the state has shown its support of career technical education at various levels. It is one of 10 states participating in the New Skills for Youth initiative, which is encouraging career readiness through the development of CTE skills.
What's more, there are plenty of good jobs available to those with CTE training. Advance CTE defines a good job as one with a median income of $55,000 and that pays workers younger than 45 no less than $35,000 a year. More than half of these good jobs in Louisiana are held by workers without a bachelor's degree.
Finally, studying at a vocational school is an affordable way to quickly get into the workforce. Rather than spending a fortune on a bachelor's degree with an unclear career path, you could earn a certificate or associate degree in two years or less and graduate with the skills needed for a specific occupation. There are even online trade schools in Louisiana that let you learn from home so you can keep your current job while completing your education.
Top Vocational Schools in Louisiana
With all the career schools in Louisiana, how do you find the right one for your education? We looked at data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard to find the schools that had low tuition rates, flexible learning options and strong student success outcomes. Based on our methodology, these are the best trade schools in Louisiana.
Open since 1940, SOWELA Technical Community College is committed to meeting the needs of students from various backgrounds and walks of life. It offers traditional classes at three different locations but also has some fully online programs for distance learners. Classes are often small, which can be great for learners looking for more one-on-on time with instructors, and students learn hands-on skills using the latest equipment and technology.
What vocational programs SOWELA offers: SOWELA offers technical degrees and certificates in a variety of subjects. Popular options include industrial instrumentation technology, accounting technology and nursing. High school students can begin college early through dual enrollment options such as the Senior Technical Education Program at SOWELA (STEPS). Returning students may be able to earn credit for previous education or work experience through a prior learning assessment option.
Fletcher Technical Community College says its priority is student success. Originally founded as a trade school in 1948, the college now offers both academic and technical degrees and certificates. It offers dual enrollment for high school students and cross-enrollment for those who want to take classes at both Fletcher Technical Community College and Nicholls State University. Online associate degrees are also available.
What vocational programs Fletcher offers: You can earn diplomas, certificates and associate degrees at Fletcher. The school makes it easy to find programs eligible for the state's TOPS Tech Award which helps pay tuition for technical education in Louisiana. Among the options at Fletcher are popular offerings in automotive technology, business administration and welding.
More than 20,000 students enroll annually at Delgado Community College. The school is the state's oldest and largest community college in addition to being one of the best vocational schools in Louisiana. It has more than 100 areas of study. Despite its size, Delgado Community College maintains a 17:1 student-faculty ratio which can mean more opportunities for personalized instruction. For those who can't study on-campus, a number of degrees and certificates are offered fully online.
What vocational programs Delgado offers: Delgado offers associate degrees and certificates through seven different academic divisions. These include allied health, nursing, business and technology and technical programs. Some awards, such as the associate degree in hospitality management and certificate of technical studies in web site design, can be earned entirely online. Credits may be given for prior learning, life experience or military service.
ITI Technical College was formed in 1973 to help area businesses find workers trained in the latest technology. The college operates under that same mission today and specializes in technical education programs. Students from across the country travel to ITI Technical College for their education which may include hands-on learning through labs, internships or externships.
What vocational programs ITI offers: At ITI, you'll find both Associate of Occupational Studies degrees and certificates. They cover fields such as automation and electronics systems technology, medical coding and drafting and design technology. Some programs are accelerated to help students get out of the classroom and into the workforce quickly. Graduates should be ready for entry-level jobs and, depending on their field, industry certification.
Both traditional students and adult learners should feel at home at River Parishes Community College. The school has a diverse student body whose members can choose from transfer degrees, technical degrees, technical diplomas and CTE certification. Louisiana students who didn't finish high school can earn their GED through the WorkReady U program.
What vocational programs RPCC offers: RPCC offers more than 20 programs. These cover training in diverse fields such as teaching, pipefitting and business office administration. The college has a CNA dual enrollment option for high school students who want to train to become certified nursing assistants. Students at the college may be eligible for financial aid through RPCC Foundation Scholarships and Workforce Tuition Assistance.
On this list of trade schools in Louisiana, Remington College is a relatively recent addition. It was established in 1998 but didn't take long to become one of the best vocational schools in the state. Instructors are experienced in their industry and teach practical skills needed in the workforce. For those who can't study on-campus, Remington College offers some online degrees and diplomas.
What vocational programs Remington offers: A dozen associate degree and diploma programs are available on Remington's Lafayette campus. For instance, you could earn a cosmetology diploma and learn hands-on skills in the college's fully equipped student salon. Or there is a medical assisting associate degree that includes preparation for professional certification. Online options include diplomas in medical office administration and computer-aided design and drafting (CAD technology).
Nunez Community College is a student-centered institution. That means it offers a curriculum and support services intended to encourage student success and personal growth. It operates under the core values of teaching and learning, caring, integrity and innovation. Nunez Community College was established in 1992 and most classes are held on its campus in Chalmette.
What vocational programs Nunez offers: Students can choose from more than a dozen fields of study at Nunez. Within these, there are associate degrees, certificates, diplomas and technical competency areas offered. Nunez is notable for having the only program in Louisiana dedicated to aerospace manufacturing technicians. While some associate degrees may take two years to complete, students only need to finish two courses to earn a technical competency area to become an emergency medical technician.
A part of the Southern University System, Southern University at Shreveport is the only historically black college in Louisiana that is also a comprehensive community college. The college serves both part-time and full-time students who come from various backgrounds and have diverse career goals. It offers dual enrollment to high school students, fully online degrees to distance learners and continuing education classes to working professionals.
What vocational programs SUSLA offers: For those interested in a CTE education, SUSLA has associate degrees, certificates and technical diplomas in the fields of allied health, business studies and technology. Programs such as the phlebotomy certificate include a practicum to ensure graduates are proficient in hands-on skills. For distance learners, fully online technical programs include an associate degree in criminal justice administration and a certificate in computer networking technology.
Known to most people as Delta Tech, the Delta School of Business and Technology can trace its roots back to 1970. It's a private institution that focuses on business, medical and technical classes. Delta Tech prides itself on teaching career skills and offers accelerated programs that can move students quickly from the classroom to the workforce.
What vocational programs Delta Tech offers: The CTE programs at Delta Tech include certificates, specialized diplomas and Associate of Occupational Studies degrees. All can be earned on an accelerated pace. For instance, the phlebotomy certificate can be earned in 12 weeks while specialized diplomas generally take 12 months. Associate degrees, such as those for medical assistants and paralegal studies, can be completed in as little as 18 months.
Delta College of Arts & Technology is another of the best career schools in Louisiana. It has small classes, experienced instructors and flexible learning options. The college operates on a four-day school week, and students can choose either daytime or evening classes. With multiple start dates through the year, you won't have to wait long to begin your education at Delta College of Arts & Technology.
What vocational programs Delta offers: The vocational programs at Delta run on an accelerated format that allows students to finish classes in as few as 7.5 months. The Baton Rouge campus offers a half dozen diplomas and associate degrees in areas such as dental assistant and graphic design. In many programs, students learn hands-on skills through externships or clinical training.
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Louisiana
Career and technical schools in Louisiana often represent a good value for students. Tuition rates at two-year schools can be less than what is charged at four-year colleges and universities. Plus, students may be able to avoid room and board charges by attending school at a nearby community college or taking classes online.
There are also a number of Louisiana scholarships and grants that can help offset the cost of a CTE education in the state. During the 2018-2019 school year, the state spent more than $293 million on TOPS Awards and another $28 million on GO Grants, and those are only two examples of the Louisiana grants available.
To be eligible for these and other financial aid programs, you need to start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is commonly known as the FAFSA, and both the government and schools use it to make financial aid decisions. For more about the FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid in Louisiana, check out the RWM Financial Aid Guide.
Here's a closer look at some of the public and private scholarships and grants available for students at trade schools in Louisiana:
TOPS Tech Award: These Louisiana grants are available to recent high school graduates who enroll in an eligible technical education program. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and an ACT score of at least 17 to qualify. The amount of the award varies by school but tops out at $3,214.15 for the 2019-2020 school year.
GO Grant: The GO Grant is offered by the state for those with demonstrated financial need. Grant amounts range from $300 to $3,000. You must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for a GO Grant.
AWS Foundation Scholarship Program: The American Welding Society awards more than $1 million annually to students studying welding technology. Among its awards is a $1,000 Welder Training Scholarship that is given to 25 students each year.
PTAC Crew HVAC Scholarship: Students planning to enroll in an HVACR program in Louisiana can apply for a $1,500 scholarship from PTAC Crew. One scholarship is awarded annually, and applicants must submit an essay to be considered.
Initiatives for Vocational Students in Louisiana
Louisiana supports its technical students in a number of ways beyond financial aid:
In Fiscal Year 2019, Louisiana received more than $20 million in Perkins Funds from the federal government to help pay for its CTE programs.
The Louisiana Legislature included more than $127 million in its 2018-2019 budget for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
Louisiana policies that benefit vocational students
Louisiana is one of 10 states selected to pilot the New Skills for Youth program. As a participant in the program, the state received $2 million to help it expand and strengthen career education pathways.
Students at Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges can participate in SkillsUSA which allows them build confidence and career skills. Participants can attend chapter meetings, conferences and even enter an annual state competition.
School-specific program initiatives in Louisiana
In July 2019, Louisiana Delta Community College received a $737,103 grant from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to support its CTE programs. The money will be used for new equipment and technology as well as professional development for instructors.
Many schools have dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college classes early. For instance, South Louisiana Community College has an Early College Academy that blends high school and college coursework.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers
While individual programs may be accredited by specialized associations, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the main accrediting body for technical schools in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Board of Regents oversees higher education in the state. On its website, you can find information about financial aid in Louisiana, workforce initiatives and more.
For links to all the public trade schools in Louisiana, stop by the website for Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges.
If you want to explore careers and job opportunities in the state, the Louisiana Workforce Commission website is a good place to start.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard, we generated a list of schools that met the following criteria:
- Institution type is less than 2 years, greater than 2 & less than 4 years
- Accredited by at least 1 agency (institutional accreditation)
- The school falls under one of the following classifications: (Carnegie Classification 2015: Undergraduate Instructional Program)
- Associate's Colleges: Mixed Transfer/Vocational & Technical
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with 30-49% of awards (degrees and certificates) in career & technical programs.
Associate's Colleges: High Vocational & Technical
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with more than 50% of awards (degrees and certificates) in career & technical programs.
Special Focus: Two-Year Institution
- These institutions awarded associate's degrees but no bachelor's degrees with typically more than 75% of awards in a single career & technical program
- Associate's Colleges: Mixed Transfer/Vocational & Technical
We ranked the resulting colleges on the following criteria:
- Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Number of Associate degree and undergraduate Certificate programs offered, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of undergraduate students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate & part-time retention rate (if full-time retention rate is not available, then use part-time retention rate), National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017-18
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017-18
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Mean annual earnings for students working 10 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Louisiana, Advance CTE, Accessed July 2019, https://careertech.org/Louisiana
- Key Industries, Louisiana Economic Development, Accessed July 2019, http://led.bbrcreativehost.com/key-industries.html
- New Orleans Industries, Choose New Orleans, Accessed July 2019, https://choosenola.com/New-Orleans-economy/industries
- New Skills for Youth: Louisiana 2018 Snapshot, Advance CTE, Accessed July 2019, https://cte.careertech.org/sites/default/files/files/resources/LA_NSFY_Snapshot_2019.pdf
- Prior Learning Assessment, SOWELA Technical Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.sowela.edu/programs/prior-learning-assessment/
- About Us, Fletcher Technical Community College, Accessed July 2019, http://www.fletcher.edu/about-us/
- Fast Facts about Delgado, Delgado Community College, Accessed July 2019, http://www.dcc.edu/about/fast-facts.aspx
- Our History, ITI Technical College, Accessed July 2019, https://iticollege.edu/experience-iti/history-of-iti/
- RPCC Scholarship Information, River Parishes Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.rpcc.edu/financial-aid/rpcc-scholarship-information/
- Remington College Lafayette, Remington College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.remingtoncollege.edu/locations/lafayette/
- About Nunez, Nunez Community College, Accessed July 2019, https://www.nunez.edu/about-nunez/index
- About SUSLA, Southern University at Shreveport, Accessed July 2019, http://www.susla.edu/page/about-susla
- About Us, Delta Tech, Accessed July 2019, https://deltatech.edu/about-us/
- Why Delta?, Delta College, Accessed July 2019, https://deltacollege.com/why-delta/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed July 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator
- PTAC Crew Scholarship for HVAC Students, PTAC Crew, Accessed July 2019, https://ptaccrew.com/scholarship
- Scholarships, American Welding Society, Accessed July 2019, https://www.aws.org/foundation/page/scholarships
- The TOPS Tech Award, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Accessed July 2019, https://www.osfa.la.gov/tops_tech.html
- TOPS OPH Annual Award Amounts For 2019-2020, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Accessed July 2019, https://www.osfa.la.gov/MainSitePDFs/TOPS_Payment_Amounts.pdf
- GO Grant, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Accessed July 2019, https://www.osfa.la.gov/go_grant.html
- Program Statistics, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, Accessed July 2019, https://www.osfa.la.gov/program_statistics.html