According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, economic growth in the Treasure State has been outpacing the U.S. national average since the turn of the 21st century. Several top industries in Montana, including trade, education, healthcare, business services and construction, provide a range of jobs for candidates with formal training from trade and vocational schools.
Specific areas of the state offer even more opportunity to students with the right knowledge and skills. Students hoping to work in IT or transportation and logistics should consider the Billings region, where those two industries are well-established and growing. If you're hoping to land a career in business or start your own company, Forbes named Missoula among its best small cities for business and careers in 2019.
Why is Montana Good for Vocational/Career Schools?
Career technical education (CTE) in Montana is already making a difference in the lives of students. Statistics show that high school students who concentrate on CTE subjects graduate at a rate of 98 percent — fully 12 percentage points higher than the state average rate — and college-level CTE certification in Montana is typically quicker and more affordable than a university degree.
The average charge for a year of tuition and fees at career and technical schools in Montana was around $3,600 for in-state students in 2017-18. University students, on the other hand, paid nearly $6,800 for their study in the same year. On top of that, bachelor's degrees typically take at least four years of study to complete, while associate degrees require around two years of school and trade school certificates can often be earned in a year or less.
On this page, we've got a list of the best trade and vocational schools in Montana and some details about what made each one stand out. If you're thinking about earning CTE certification in Montana, read on to the end for some helpful tips about the financial aid process and info on a few Montana scholarships that might work for you.
Highest-Paying and Fastest-Growing Careers in Montana
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in Montana
Training at career and technical schools in Montana might be more affordable than earning a university degree, but that doesn't mean that financial aid can't make a big difference to a student's quality of life. If you're not sure how to apply for financial aid in Montana, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the natural first step.
Filling out your FAFSA is one of the smartest moves you can make as a student. Not only is it the only way to find out if you qualify for federal aid programs like Stafford Loans and the Pell Grant, but many institutional and state-funded Montana scholarships use FAFSA data to determine your eligibility. Make sure to talk to a financial aid adviser if you're enrolled but don't yet have a FAFSA on file.
Check out our guide to financial aid for more info about the FAFSA and other important parts of the student aid process. Here are a few Montana scholarships that might be able to help you pay for school:
- Gianforte Trade Scholarship - This award of $1,000 for full-time students and $500 for part-time students is available to Montana residents pursuing trade careers at universities or career and technical schools in Montana.
- Youth Serve Montana Scholarship - Up to 100 Montana high school seniors are selected each year for this program, which awards $1,000 in college financial aid to honor their volunteer service.
- Reach Higher Montana Scholarship - Available to seniors and graduates from Montana high schools, this award provides $1,000 in funding to students enrolled in eligible college programs at least half-time.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Montana
- Community colleges and trade schools in Montana are part of the Montana University System, which can provide further information about available destinations for career training.
- The Montana Community Foundation provides more than $430,000 in scholarships to students in the state and helps guide them through the application process.
- If you want to make sure that the training you receive will be up to the standards of employers in Montana and elsewhere, it's important to attend an accredited school. Public two-year institutions in Montana earn their accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Specific training programs may be accredited by national industry agencies like the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA).
For some statistics and other information on career technical education in Montana, check the state's page on Advance CTE. Further information on campus-based and online trade schools in Montana and nationwide can be found at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).