Trade schools in Minnesota can help workers prepare for in-demand jobs in key industries such as clean and renewable energy, health care services and advanced manufacturing. Major employers such as health insurer UnitedHealth Group and manufacturer 3M need qualified workers for a variety of jobs, and those positions may not require a four-year degree either.
In fact, some of the state's fastest growing occupations need a certificate or associate degree but not a bachelor's degree. Wind turbine service technicians, MRI technologists and CNC machine tool programmers are a few examples of vocational jobs that should see strong career growth in the coming years. However, top jobs may vary by region. For instance, the trade, transportation and utilities industry hires the most people in the Twin Cities region while education and health services see the most non-farm employment in the Northeast.
Although employment opportunities can differ depending on where you live, chances are vocational schools in Minnesota will have a program that fits your interests. These colleges can typically have you out of school and into the workplace in two years or less, making them a good choice for those who don't want to wait to start earning an income.
Why is Minnesota Good For Vocational Schools?
There are both traditional and online trade schools in Minnesota, and now is a good time to consider enrolling. The National Skills Coalition found 50 percent of Minnesota jobs required middle skills in 2015, but only 45 percent of the state's workforce had this level of training. Middle skills refers to education and training past high school but not to the level of a bachelor's degree.
What's more, many of these middle skills jobs pay well. Advance CTE, an association of career-technical education leaders, says 43 percent of the state's good jobs are held by people who don't have a bachelor's degree. The group defines a good job as one with a median income of $55,000 and that pays workers younger than 45 at least $35,000 per year.
Keep reading to learn more about the best trade schools in Minnesota, what financial aid programs are available and where to find further information regarding vocational training in the state.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Minnesota
Financial Aid for Vocational Students in Minnesota
Public technical and community colleges are the cheapest way to get a higher education in Minnesota. Most of these schools charge between $5,000-$6,000 per year in tuition and fees, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Compare that to the $15,142 charged annually by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities or the $57,111 it costs to attend the private Carleton College.
Financial aid in Minnesota can help lower costs for vocational students as well. In Fiscal Year 2018, the state spent nearly $242 million on student financial assistance. That money is distributed through Minnesota scholarships and grants and may be awarded to students based on academic merit or financial need.
If you are wondering how to apply for financial aid in Minnesota, the first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Also known as the FAFSA, this form is used to determine eligibility for most government and school programs. We have more about the FAFSA in our financial aid guide.
Students who submit the FAFSA might receive one of the following:
- Minnesota State Grant: Intended for students from low to moderate-income families, this grant provides up to $7,463 per year for qualified students enrolled in eligible programs at public two-year colleges.
- Postsecondary Child Care Grant: Low income students who aren't receiving Minnesota Family Investment Program assistance may be eligible for up to $5,200 to pay for child care so they can attend classes.
- Minnesota Indian Scholarship: Minnesota residents who are at least one-quarter American Indian and have demonstrated financial need can receive a grant of up to $4,000 per year for undergraduate studies.
Initiatives for Vocational Students in Minnesota Trade Schools
Technical schools in Minnesota and their students benefit from the following state initiatives:
Funding for vocational students in Minnesota
- The Minnesota Office of Higher Education received $245 million from the state general fund in Fiscal Year 2017 and almost all that money went to institution support and student grants.
- To support students seeking Minnesota CTE certification at the high school and college levels, the federal government is giving the state $18.7 million for Fiscal Year 2019.
Minnesota policies that benefit vocational students
- The PIPELINE Program provides grants and other support to employers who offer dual-training programs that combine instruction with on-the-job training.
- Employers can also receive grants through the Minnesota Apprenticeship Initiative, which seeks to train 1,000 new apprentices in key industries.
School-specific program initiatives in Minnesota
- Fox Lake Area Schools was one of five partners to receive Youth Skills Training grants to develop paid-learning opportunities for students age 16 and older.
- Many trade schools in Minnesota offer concurrent enrollment which allows high school students to receive college credit early.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers
- For information on school accreditation, visit the Higher Learning Commission.
- The Minnesota Office of Higher Education offers students information on preparing, choosing and paying for college.
- Job seekers can learn about career opportunities and search job listings on the state's CareerForce website