Health care, manufacturing and information technology are three of the top industries in Nevada, according to the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development. These sectors are some of the most common landing spots for graduates of campus-based and online trade schools in Nevada, and the jobs they offer can provide the kind of career stability that's hard to achieve with just a high school diploma.
The benefits of training at career and technical schools in Nevada may be even greater in certain cities and metro areas. If you're hoping to go into carpentry, plumbing or construction management, for example, Henderson offers one of the fastest-growing residential markets in the country. Medical sonographers earn the state's highest average wages in the area around Reno — about $10,000 more per year than the statewide average.
Why is Nevada good for vocational/career schools?
Earning a degree or certificate from career technical education (CTE) schools in Nevada comes with a few advantages over a traditional four-year university education. For one, two-year trade and vocational schools typically charge far less than universities do — annual average tuition and fees in 2018 came to $5,920 for universities and just $3,075 at technical schools and community colleges.
CTE certification programs in Nevada also tend to take less time than academic bachelor's degrees. Most vocational certificates can be earned in a year or less of full-time study, and associate degrees for high-tech positions can be completed in two years in most cases.
Whether you're continuing your education to advance in your field or seeking your first CTE certification in Nevada, there's information on this page that can help you make an informed decision for your own career. Read on for a list of the state's best trade and vocational schools and some tips on how to apply for financial aid in Nevada.
The Best Trade and Vocational Schools in Nevada
We took a look at statistics on student success, flexibility and college cost at the trade and vocational schools in Nevada and scored them each accordingly. Check out our list below, compiled using data from the U.S. Department of Education and other trusted sources:
Cost-conscious students might find a lot to like at Truckee Meadows Community College. Not only did this Reno institution post the lowest aggregate cost of any of the career and technical colleges in Nevada, but graduates also reported earning the state's highest average salaries ten years after finishing their training programs. Flexibility is a bright spot here, as well, with hundreds of courses available online or in evening sessions on campus.
What vocational programs TMCC offers: Degrees and certificates here can be earned in more than 50 career areas. Students hoping to get into advanced manufacturing can study machining or production systems, and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in paralegal studies is the only such program in Nevada to earn approval from the American Bar Association.
If you're hoping to train for a new career while continuing to work at your current job, Northwest Career College might have what you're looking for. The 88 percent distance education enrollment rate at this Las Vegas institution topped the list of online trade schools in Nevada and placed it among the 15 most flexible vocational schools nationwide.
What vocational programs NCC offers: Health care programs make up the bulk of the catalog at NCC. The programs in dental assisting and medical billing and coding can each be completed in as little as nine months with the right full-time study plan. The massage therapy program here boasts a job placement rate of 84 percent and a 100 percent pass rate on the national exam.
Career College of Northern Nevada is a private institution in the Reno metro area that features the most intimate learning environment among all campus-based and online trade schools in Nevada. The total number of students enrolled here in 2018-19 was fewer than 400, and the ratio of 11 students per faculty member is one of the best among all schools in the state.
What vocational programs CCNN offers: Students hoping to work with their hands have a selection of programs to choose from at this Sparks school. The facility maintenance technician program provides hands-on training in working maintenance labs at businesses around the region, and the welding and fabrication program teaches basic design and drafting skills alongside training in the tools and techniques of various types of welding.
How to Apply for Trade School Financial Aid in Nevada
It may typically be less expensive to attend trade school than get a university degree, but financial aid can still be a big help to students hoping to change careers. Aid can be awarded on multiple levels -- federal, state and directly through your school -- but it's important to make sure you do what it takes to qualify for the funds that might be available.
The most important document for students hoping to qualify for Nevada scholarships and grants is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out the FAFSA is the only way to be considered for federal aid programs like Stafford Loans and the Pell Grant, and many state or institutional aid committees will only consider applicants who have a FAFSA on file with their school's financial aid department.
For more info about the FAFSA and tips on how to apply for financial aid in Nevada, check out our financial aid guide. Here's a quick list of Nevada programs that offer financial aid to trade school students:
Nevada Promise Scholarship - This program pays for up to three years of tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students at Nevada community colleges.
Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship (GGMS) - Graduates of public or private high schools in Nevada who attend eligible institutions can be awarded up to $10,000 per year through this merit-based program.
Silver State Opportunity Grant (SSOG) - Students at eligible institutions may qualify for this state-based program, which offers up to $5,500 per year in aid for costs unmet by other aid.
Resources for Vocational Students and Vocational Job Seekers in Nevada
The Nevada System of Higher Education offers a world of information on universities, community colleges and trade schools in Nevada.
Once you're finished with your training program and ready to head out into the workforce, check with Nevada JobConnect to help get you started.
It's important to make sure your trade school is accredited, especially if you want to continue your education to a higher level in the future. Regional accreditation of career schools in Nevada is provided by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and individual programs are accredited by industry groups such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association.
The Nevada state page at Advance CTE, an information portal for career technical education regionally and nationwide, has more info and statistics about trade and technical schools in Nevada. You can also find more general information about career training in higher education from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).
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
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
- No. 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
- Key Industries, Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development, accessed October 17, 2019, http://www.diversifynevada.com/key-industries/
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed October 17, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm
- Henderson is happening: A guide to Nevada's fastest-growing city, Las Vegas Weekly, September 12, 2019, accessed October 17, 2019, https://lasvegasweekly.com/news/2019/sep/12/henderson-a-guide-to-nevadas-fastest-growing-city/
- National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, accessed October 17, 2019, Average undergraduate tuition and fees and room and board rates charged for full-time students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution and state or jurisdiction: 2016-17 and 2017-18, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_330.20.asp; Nevada, College Navigator, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NV&ct=2+3&ic=2
- Nevada, Advance CTE, accessed October 17, 2019, https://careertech.org/Nevada
- School pages, accessed October 17, 2019: Manufacturing Technologies, Truckee Meadows Community College, https://www.tmcc.edu/applied-technologies/programs/manufacturing-technologies; Paralegal/Law Program, Truckee Meadows Community College, https://www.tmcc.edu/paralegal; Fall 2019 Class Schedule, Truckee Meadows Community College, https://www.tmcc.edu/schedule/fall-2019; Medical Billing and Coding, Northwest Career College, https://www.northwestcareercollege.edu/medical-billing-and-coding.html; Dental Assisting, Northwest Career College, https://www.northwestcareercollege.edu/dental-assistant.html; Massage Therapy, Northwest Career College, https://www.northwestcareercollege.edu/massage-therapy.html; Facility Maintenance Technician, Career College of Northern Nevada, http://www.ccnn.edu/facility-maintenance-technician/; Welding Program, Career College of Northern Nevada, http://www.ccnn.edu/welding-program/; Nevada Promise Scholarship, College of Southern Nevada, https://www.csn.edu/promise; Accreditation, Truckee Meadows Community College, https://www.tmcc.edu/accreditation; Programmatic Accreditation, Truckee Meadows Community College, https://www.tmcc.edu/accreditation/programmatic-accreditations;
- Nevada System of Higher Education, accessed October 17, 2019: Silver State Opportunity Grant, https://nshe.nevada.edu/administration/academic-student-affairs/financial-aid/silver-state-opportunity-grant-program/; Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship, https://nshe.nevada.edu/administration/academic-student-affairs/financial-aid/governor-guinn-millennium-scholarship/;